On a whim earlier this evening, I ventured out of the hermitage to see the new film "Paranormal Activity".

My purpose here is not to give a lengthy review of the film. I will say that my palms never ceased to sweat throughout. It's pretty effective, utilizing the type of handheld camera-shaking, in-your-face cinema verite approach that we saw in "The Blair Witch Project" some ten years ago. It's fun. Not recommended for little kids, heart patients, or anyone else who's afraid of the bogeyman. It will mess them up.

I haven't experienced a 'lot' of that kind of activity, myself. Nothing that makes for a really good story. Except for one.

Although I'm not an overly "psychic" individual myself, I've always attracted those who are. One friend I had in Texas was named Sarah. Sarah referred to herself as a "big satellite dish," always receiving signals that she usually didn't understand, but often discovered the meaning of after the fact. Like the night she couldn't sleep and was plagued all evening by four pairs of lost, pleading eyes. The next day, she picked up the paper and discovered that four teenagers had been killed when their car struck a bridge support. But this story isn't about Sarah, either.

It's about Randi. Sarah introduced me to Randi.

Sarah and her daughters had known Randi and his family "down in the valley" in south Texas. Now, he and his brothers had come north, a few years later. From the time they arrived, Sarah had sensed something not-too-pleasant had arrived with them. She also sensed that of the three boys, Randi was somehow the source. She wanted my opinion of the guy.

He answered the door when we arrived at his apartment. Tall and fair, with longish blonde, wavy hair and what I thought were black eyes at the time. Musician. Dressed in black.

As we sit, the evening progresses and we begin to talk about why we came. Randi explained that he had a "friend" of sorts, that had been with him since he was a child, and that was known about by his family and everyone else who'd spent any time with him at all. He said that he'd had it since at least the age of ten. He also said that it wasn't particularly nice, and could get angry, but never really 'did' much of anything but bits of minor destructive household mischief to show its annoyance, which was usually jealousy-related.

He said that it would do things like break mirrors, pull out all the drawers, open all the cabinets and suchlike. Its appearance was actually scarier than its habits, mostly because of its size. He said that it appeared as a very tall, perhaps 7-foot shadow. Not a distinct person, but clearly humanoid in shape.

Sarah and I sat on the floor side-by-side. We were looking across at Randi, who had the kitchen and dining room area behind him as he described the activities and appearance of this entity, speculating about what type it was.

Just as he uttered the phrase, "creature from another dimension," it stepped for a moment into ours. WE SAW IT.

It moved from the edge of the small apartment kitchen through part of the dining area, a space of only a few feet. It was just as he had described. It was huge.

It only lasted for a few seconds, and it was gone.

Now, some may say that was simply the power of suggestion. But considering the fact that Sarah's head and mine whipped around to face each other at exactly the same moment, speaking the same words -- "Did you see that?" -- I would tend to believe it was something a bit more.

There's not much more to tell than that. It didn't 'do' anything, and that was the only time we saw it that evening. We didn't run screaming, and in fact stayed for quite some time talking, but it definitely, um....put a bit of a charge in the atmosphere, I guess you could say.

So, what with Samhain (All Hallow's Eve) on its way, I thought I'd ask this question: Have you ever had an encounter with the paranormal, or do you know anyone who has?

More like this:


SDaniels Oct. 17, 2009 @ 2:25 a.m.

Once, I was sleeping at an aunt and uncle's house, in their wood-paneled, cabin-like spare room. My sleep was heavy and dark, and I slept with a hand pressed flat on the cool wooden wall against which the little cot bed was cozied. I had one of those fevers of childhood that hold on viciously, and dry out a little body faster than juice or cold milk can replenish. Something roused me, and I felt eyes boring into me from behind, near the room's door or the bookcases leaning on the adjacent wall. Holding my breath, I turned my head on the damp pillow, and found standing in three-quarter turn before the thin line of light from under the door, a life-sized, cartoon-like, but perfectly drawn figure, like an illustration from a book.

It was a centaur. I knew what they were from mythology stories. He had a full beard like my young uncle, a bare chest, and the body and sturdy musculature of a chestnut horse. Across his chest was slung a strap, and I could see sheath of arrows. There may have been a bow affixed to the strap, too. The centaur had a beautiful male face, and bright blue eyes, with long wavy dark hair, like those calm-eyed portraits of a very Caucasian Jesus. The centaur stared with such a calm, and I stared back, my head feeling as light and dry, and echo-empty as a balloon trailing out its helium. If I breathe or blink, he will go, I thought, with perfectly reasoned intuition. The centaur stared and glowed, seeming to agree with this conclusion. Don't go, I ventured silently. I will count to ten, but then I'll have to breathe or blink, and you will stay. I counted, and felt my lungs squeeze and my eyes stretch and begin to tear up. I blinked. The centaur vanished.


Children have hallucinations all of the time, and this was not my first (another time during a fever, I had seen a large "space worm" in a silver uniform, posed in front of a console full of buttons and gauges in my open bedroom closet). Though I ate little for dinner on the night of the centaur, there was relish on the table, and sodium and fat-filled boiled franks, foods known to cause nightmares and vivid dreams. The house was unfamiliar to me, which fuels a young imagination. I was sick. In the wood-paneled spare room, there was a pencil sketched portrait of Jesus. The most remarkable aspect of my vision was the sharpness of outline and detail of this figure. Perhaps he'll return tonight, this time with something to say, less picky about blinking ;)


CuddleFish Oct. 17, 2009 @ 5:38 a.m.

I told you all in another thread that I took a psychic quiz on MSN and failed miserably. I was curious about it because all my life people have told me that they think I have some sort of "extra" sense or knowledge. People have dreamed about me. One woman dreamed that I was a healer; she told me this after I had had a vision about her daughter, well not a vision. I heard something, related to her.

As to visions, I will recount one story. My grandparents used to have friends over all the time from Tijuana and Mexicali, from all over California and from Texas. In those days, people routinely drank a lot and had house parties. We traveled a lot to see people ourselves. Two or three ladies would often be in the party, one from Los Angeles, my "aunt" Chela, one from Mexicali, my "aunt" Maria, and one named aunt "Vicki" she may have been from Mexicali or Tijuana. I remember these people very well, and I remember the parties. My grandparents would host them or they would host my grandparents, and it would be all day and night drinking, eating, playing cards, music, talking, laughing. Me and my brother would get money to go and play! LOL!

Anyway, one night, there was a house party at my grandparents' home and they had been drinking and playing cards all night. My grandmother got tired and went to lay down on the sofa. Above the mantel in their home was a large picture of the Virgen de Guadalupe, I'd say the picture was 3' x 5'. My grandmother says that while she was sleeping, the Virgen pointed at my aunt Vicki and shook her head. My grandmother woke and immediately went back to the table and wouldn't let them go to bed; she was afraid something bad was going to happen. Less than two months later, Vicki was dead.

When my grandfather died, my grandmother said that he would routinely come to visit her. She said she wasn't afraid; she was happy to see him.


SDaniels Oct. 17, 2009 @ 5:59 a.m.

Cuddle, would you say that it is common in your family, and even cultural, such occurrences? Visions portending doom or luck, for example? Are they usually religious in vehicle, such as the premonition of the portrait?


CuddleFish Oct. 17, 2009 @ 6:18 a.m.

I don't think common in the family, and don't know enough to say it is cultural, by that I take it you mean within or of the Hispanic community. The little I know suggests that Mexicans are more comfortable with death, with witchcraft, and with religious visions. The Virgen de Guadalupe tradition, for example, was taught as a vision that appeared to Juan Diego.



SDaniels Oct. 17, 2009 @ 3:22 p.m.

It cracks me up when there is a title for wiki entries stating it "has multiple issues." So I think refried wrote about some of the witchcraft shops with religious notions, a blend of the paranormal with Christian/Catholic tradition--would like to see more writing on this. Just a description of one of these shops would make for an amazing blog...


CuddleFish Oct. 17, 2009 @ 3:39 p.m.

My "aunt" Graciela has a stall at the swap meet near her home in Bellflower, it does really well. She goes down to Mexico to get her supplies. When she used to stop at our house on the way north, I used to go through her stuff, was amazing. Amulets, dead hummingbirds, candles, potions, powders. I have a silver amulet she let me have, used to wear it all the time. I asked her once if what she did didn't conflict with her being a Catholic, she said a true believer could not be touched by the devil or devilish things if they prayed and went to church.

Two doors down from my grandmother there was a store that sold the same sort of things, the store was called "La Santisma Muerte." The lady would leave candles burning all night. The candles caught her shop on fire, it burnt the restaurant next door, then caught my grandmother's house on fire. This was last year in October. Bad things always happen around my birthday. I figure I'm cursed.


nan shartel Oct. 17, 2009 @ 4:56 p.m.

i believe in ghosts...because as a child i saw their effects...i had an Auntie who own a huge home that cover a quarter of a block on Sunset Cliffs

it was a Spanish construction and was very old

one wing had 10 upstairs bedroom and 10 downstairs bedrooms

every nite some unseen entity walked along the corridors and checked to see if the bedroom door were locked both upstairs and downstairs...we all slept upstairs and my Aunt made sure they were all locked

there were doors on the inside between each bedroom and u could walk into each bedroom and follow the spirits progress...watch the doorknobs turn

sometimes a spirit played the Grand Piano just below the staircase and u could stand above and listen and watch the keys moving

we weren't frightened tho...at least my sister and i weren't...i was about 8 at the time

my Auntie only lived there for 2 years tho


SDaniels Oct. 17, 2009 @ 5:02 p.m.

Cuddle: "Bad things always happen around my birthday. I figure I'm cursed."

We'd better do some kind of exorcism blog--maybe Pike can find a good deal on craigslist for some supplies! :)


SDaniels Oct. 17, 2009 @ 5:04 p.m.

"watch the doorknobs turn...sometimes a spirit played the Grand Piano just below the staircase"

This sounds like a benign spirit--and an entertaining one! :)


antigeekess Oct. 17, 2009 @ 7:36 p.m.

Daniels, I love your centaur. What a cool one! I'm sorry you think he was a hallucination. He assures me he was not. ;)

Cuddle, thanks for your Virgin de Guadalupe story. It's been my understanding that visions of any famous virgin you'd care to name are fairly common in the Mexican culture. Here's the story of the Virgin de Guadalupe, attached to a festival promo:


Sounds like a GREAT time! Can you imagine the photos you'd get?

As for the shops you mention ("Botanicas"), I visited some of those in the early 90s. Here's the big one in San Antonio, which specifically focuses on Voodoo, and a bit on Santeria:


For such an interesting store, the website's pretty boring, unfortunately.

Oh, and Fish? MY legal birthday is April 22 (although it may be the 21st or 23rd. Don't ask). Here are a few events from the days before/after:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_city_bombing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Tech_massacre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waco_siege



The only person who gets to gripe more than me is my cousin, whose website is right here (country music volume warning): http://bryancline.com/

His birthday is 9/11. Poor baby.


antigeekess Oct. 17, 2009 @ 7:42 p.m.

nan, your auntie's house had 20 bedrooms in ONE WING? Holy smokes. That's beyond a mansion. Who are you, nanners, a Vanderbilt or something?

"there were doors on the inside between each bedroom and u could walk into each bedroom and follow the spirits progress...watch the doorknobs turn

sometimes a spirit played the Grand Piano just below the staircase and u could stand above and listen and watch the keys moving

we weren't frightened tho...at least my sister and i weren't...i was about 8 at the time"

Wow! Now that's some first-class haunting, right there. Definitely a benevolent ghostie-type. You could never see a figure or identify who it might be?

Shoulda known it would be nan that would come through, big time. What a life.

Thanks, nan. (Also, I posted something for you on your Shards blog, so hopefully you saw that.)


antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 12:29 a.m.

Back in #8, Daniels wrote:

"We'd better do some kind of exorcism blog--maybe Pike can find a good deal on craigslist for some supplies! :)"

So a little later, I started wondering: What WOULD come up if I checked a couple places using "exorcism supplies" as keywords?

First, I found these:


These are actually legit contact lenses. You have to tell them the power and base curve when you order them. How cool is that? I'm almost sorry I got that lasik surgery now.

Then, I found this stuff:


Apparently, you can 'wash' demons away with a good bath. Who knew? I mean, might as well try, right? Couldn't hurt.

Finally, I hit paydirt. The real deal. Where else?


Gotta love that user ID.

So, for the bargain price of (currently) 99 cents, someone is going to get themselves a generous 1.75 ounce container of Demon-Be-Gone. I wonder how many demons that's good for, and if there is any portion advice on the back, kinda like the feeding instructions on a bag of cat food.

I think I'll ask the seller. Stay tuned.



SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 2:40 a.m.

"nan, your auntie's house had 20 bedrooms in ONE WING? Holy smokes. That's beyond a mansion. Who are you, nanners, a Vanderbilt or something?"

...or perhaps a Winchester, as in Sarah? :)



SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:08 a.m.

The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe reminds me of Bernadette Soubirous and the Lady of Lourdes. Very similar narrative, except that this one uses the metaphor of the spring appearing out of the ground, and of course, the blooming garden on the spot where the apparition first manifested to Bernadette:



SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:21 a.m.

Wow, AG--at least one good thing happened in April, around 29 years ago :)

The author of the Columbia Dispatch article asks earnestly, if grammatically incorrectly:

"Is there's something about the month of April?"

To which T.S. Eliot replies:

"April is the cruelest month..."


CuddleFish Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:45 a.m.

My amulet has a triangle around the eye of God on one side, and a five point star and the word tetragrammaton on the other side.


SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:53 a.m.




the Hebrew word for God, consisting of the four letters yod, he, vav, and he, transliterated consonantally usually as YHVH, now pronounced as Adonai or Elohim in substitution for the original pronunciation forbidden since the 2nd or 3rd century b.c.

Compare 'Yahweh.'

Origin: 1350–1400; ME < Gk tetragrámmaton, n. use of neut. of tetragrámmatos having four letters, equiv. to tetra- tetra- + grammat- (s. of grámma) letter + -os adj. suffix

c.1400, from Gk. (to) tetragrammaton "(the word) of four letters," from tetra- "four" + gramma (gen. grammatos) "letter, something written." The Hebrew divine name, transliterated as YHWH, usually vocalized in English as "Jehovah" or "Yahweh."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper


SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 5:04 a.m.

I thought you knew, dear. :) I guess it is a 14-letter word for a four-letter word for the highest authority we can conceive. "Adonai" is interesting; I think of Adonis, but thought he was just a beautiful mortal, not a god. A good book for tracing out a lot of Western folkloric and religious meaning is The White Goddess by Robert Graves. I have it, but have not looked at it in years. AG may be more knowledgeable on this kind of thing...


CuddleFish Oct. 18, 2009 @ 9:22 a.m.

I thought you knew, dear. :)

That's just plain mean!!!


nan shartel Oct. 18, 2009 @ 9:58 a.m.

i would like to see a centaur...I'd make that sucker glow!!!

the mansion..it was only one of many over time with my Aunt Maisie...she had been Mary Pickford's double when she was younger and met and fell in love with Mary's Landscape Architect for Pickfair...he was a Punjab Indian and had come here to the states in the early 30's as a political refugee...his name was Charon Singh Sunder and was loaded money wise...owned tons of property in San Diego...but no biggie AntiM...my mothers family were Grapes Of Wrath OKies..my mom only had a 4th grade education...she was one of 12 children...and my grams had 3 sets of twins

Maisie however was completely educated as a nurse...but didn't work as a nurse for long when she got the job with Mary Pickford....and she married money...we however limped along like most post depression ppl

i do have one other ghost story but i'll tell it closer to Halloween


nan shartel Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10 a.m.

i had a very dear friend who lived under a mushroom in April because it was "the cruest month"


nan shartel Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10:03 a.m.

Trout...the only thing ur cursed with is shimmering shiny fins and a winning personality!!!


CuddleFish Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10:06 a.m.

I wish that were true, nan!!! But bless you for saying so!!!

Amazing that your grandmother had three sets of twins, wow!

What does that mean, "lived under a mushroom?"


nan shartel Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10:06 a.m.

the Mexican Halloween (day of the dead) rituals are the best of all...and i love to eat them little skeletons!!!


nan shartel Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10:16 a.m.

i mean for the month of April he was just happier as a fungus...he was a Viet Nam vet and a Marine...his first wife was a Vietnamese woman who he'd married in a Buddhist ceremony in spite of military rules against it

she was killed in a roadside bombing not 25 feet from him in Saigon...it happened in April

he loved her like a hammer!!!

each only breathed if the other did...she died in his arms...he was undone


antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10:20 a.m.


Love the Winchester Mystery House. It's been about 10 years since I visited it. I appreciated the stained glass more than anything else.

Familiar with the Lourdes story as well. Madonna named her first kid Lourdes after that, remember?



Spitting image, ain't she? Just rockin' that unibrow and 'stache, without a care in the world. I guess it's a European thing. :)

"Wow, AG--at least one good thing happened in April, around 29 years ago :)"

Thanks for that, Daniels. Yes, 29 years ago was a very good year, producing millions of great women every single month. Truly unprecedented, and unrepeated since.

Gonna hafta revisit that T.S. Eliot poem now. I don't remember how the rest of it goes. More familiar with his really serious works, such as this one:




antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 10:37 a.m.

Cuddle queried:

"What does it all mean????"

Now THAT could take you the rest of your life to study, Cuddle. :)

I'm no expert occultist or Kabbalist, by any stretch...


But I can tell you that the tetragrammaton refers to the "hidden name of God," which was why it was forbidden to speak it. To speak it is to profane it. Same thing as the commandment about "taking the Lord's name in vain."

Although, with the intricacies of language and difficulties of translation, I also wonder if a more correct translation of that concept is what you find in Taoism, which tells us that "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao" -- that is, it's not that it's forbidden, but rather that it's impossible. It can't be put into words. It's ineffable.

That is, Cuddle, I wonder if a lot of what are perceived as "commandments" and "orders" by the God of the Bible aren't rather more like what you generally see in Taoism -- just observations about The Way Things Are, as Benjamin Hoff might say.


(I've studied Taoism with a so-called "expert" at ASU, and this adorable, entertaining little book is STILL a better education on the subject than what I received there, as far as I'm concerned.)

But back to your tetragrammaton. Are you sure that's a FIVE-pointed star you have around your neck?

Most curious.


antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 11:30 a.m.

Re #22:

"i would like to see a centaur...I'd make that sucker glow!!!"

nan!!! We'll have no interspecies nookie on this site! LOL.

Your aunt must have been beautiful if she was Mary Pickford's double. For those unfamiliar with Pickford...



(This last one clearly narrated by Whoopi, although the sidebar doesn't say so.)

nan, do you know what type of double your aunt was for Pickford? Was it for blocking, lighting and such? I was trying to find a vid that might possibly have included her.

She wouldn't have been a stunt double, I don't believe. Men did that, even for female actors, all the way until at least the 70s or 80s. (Besides the fact that I don't think her characters would've been doing a lot of stunts.)


CuddleFish Oct. 18, 2009 @ 12:02 p.m.

Yup, there you go, AG, and anybody else that wants to see my amulet.


antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 1:38 p.m.

Interesting one, Fish. Good pics, too.

Where did you acquire it? Any Freemasons in the family? Shriners, in particular?


SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 2:59 p.m.

"I thought you knew, dear. :)

That's just plain mean!!!:

I said this in all innocence and a bit of wryness--you mentioned it was on your amulet.


CuddleFish Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:08 p.m.

Just yanking your amulet, SD!! xxxxxx

AG, as I mentioned, my "aunt" Graciela has a stall where she sells all kinds of this sort of thing. On one return from Mexico, I went through her stock and saw the amulet. The design was so intriguing and attractive, I wanted it.


SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:16 p.m.

The swimming pool at Pickford Fair is mentioned in my book on the history of the swimming pool. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford used to row on it like a lake!

Will have to look up and see if name of landscape architecht is mentioned...

Speaking of things that spread, what is UP with Lourdes's stache and brows?? Not exactly a Euro thing--a socially inept thing to be sure! Madonna probably wanted her to look like Frieda Kahlo--oh dear, you look just like her--let's be proud as you are! Meanwhile, everyone is laughing behind her back. Sad. All it takes is a good eye and a pair of tweezers.


SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 3:17 p.m.

just woke up--apologize for multiple typos...


antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 5:48 p.m.

Turns out it's a pretty popular amulet, Cuddle:





Okay, so the symbolism on that amulet has multiple associations, including Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), Freemasonry (eye in pyramid, Shriner's scimitar), and Wicca (pentagram). NOT that any of the above are 'exclusively' associated with the groups mentioned, but I'd say those are the most frequent ones.

It would also seem that the pentagram is the main feature of the amulet.


My guess would be it was cast for the Wiccan market. Wicca is modern paganism, and it's an eclectic hodgepodge of older occult elements. They don't much seem to care who they borrow from. What looks like a Shriner's scimitar could also be something called a boline.

On the other hand, Freemasonry is so inclusive of everybody -- including Wiccans, that I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see one of them wearing that.

It's all positive and all very cool, Cuddle. If anybody gives you grief and calls that pentagram "Satanic," by the way, you can educate them to the fact that it is the INVERTED, upside-down pentagram that's associated with Satanism.


Unfortunately, the media gets this wrong all the time.


SDaniels Oct. 18, 2009 @ 6:11 p.m.

"Contested Waters" looks like a fun read--will have to check it out.

"The Springboard in the Pond" is the one. Written by a Dutchman, not me--and coincidentally, could have been MUCH better written by me ;)

Thanks for your usual research prowess on the amulet. Looks like Cuddle's got some readin' ta do...


CuddleFish Oct. 18, 2009 @ 7 p.m.

I had tried to read about it before, SD, and couldn't make heads or tails out of it's significance. All my aunt told me was that it was an Eye Of God Amulet. The carvings on the back were intricate and interesting; as you can see from the pictures, mine has even more stuff, numbers and symbols, in the amulet than the ones in AG's links. I have in on a chain with a Saint Joseph medallion that has an insert of some sort in the back. I got that from her as well. Both are heavy silver. My grandfather gave me a large Virgen de Guadalupe made of a silver coin. I also have his gold Virgen de Guadalupe medallion that he wore all his life. Interesting combination of things ...


antigeekess Oct. 18, 2009 @ 7:25 p.m.

Sounds you're well protected, Fish. :)


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