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  Columnist: Melissa B. Newman

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Halloween - A Scary Season Rooted In Reality


Posted on Tuesday, 18 September, 2018 | 0 comments
Columnist: Melissa B. Newman


Every year, amidst the excitement of Halloween-related fun, conversations commonly turn toward scary and unnerving talk of the mysterious world of paranormal and supernatural phenomena. Unlike the entertaining ‘safe scares’ that Halloween brings, for those who encounter ‘real paranormal phenomena’, the encounters can be truly terrifying, even life-changing. And while these otherworldly phenomena have been a part of the human experience since the dawn of ‘humankind’, and incidentally, is where Halloween originates, not even western society’s modern-day cynical culture of scientific analysis could dismiss and suppress the existence of these elusive phenomena. On the contrary, whether you are a believer or a hardened skeptic, an avalanche of experiences involving paranormal and supernatural phenomena continues to be reported worldwide.

According to several polls and surveys conducted around the world, belief in the paranormal and supernatural is at an all time high and shows no evidence of decline. In the U.S. alone; a Gallup poll showed that 75% of Americans have some sort of ‘paranormal belief’, a YouGov study showed that at least half of all Americans believe in ghosts, a Harris poll shows that 68% of Americans believe in life after death, a CBS poll showed that one in five Americans have seen or physically encountered a ghost, a Chapman University study found that nearly every 3 in every 4 Americans believe in some kind of paranormal phenomena and still another survey taken from over 400 college students with the highest GPA’s found seniors and grad students more likely to believe in the paranormal then their ‘uneducated’ freshman counterparts. ‘Paranormal beliefs’ include such phenomena as extraterrestrial and UFO close encounters, all types of psychic phenomena, miracles and demonic possession, ghosts and poltergeists, witchcraft and the after-life, and encounters with extraordinary life forms, including Bigfoot and the notorious chupacabra.

Thanks to the Internet, encounters with the paranormal and supernatural are more easily reported, communicated and documented around the world. Here are a few recent accounts:

- While walking home from the store at twilight, Mrs. Wajda of Poland, and her three children were attacked by several creatures that emerged from the ground. “They looked like monkeys, but their skin was rough and prickly like some sort of lizard. We fought them off until one of them let out a high-pitched shriek and they quickly crawled back into the ground”. Local authorities were dumbfounded by the report and the injuries that were sustained by the family, as well as the strange animal-tracks that were left behind. Exploration of the fissure that the creatures originated from showed that it had recently collapsed or been sealed from within.

- During a hike in the mountains near Tibet, Mr. Ferguson of Australia, and friends, were jolted awake by a huge luminous craft that hovered over their campsite. “I woke to screams, a blinding light and a rumbling noise that sounded like static. I tore through my tent to see what it was, but it was so huge and brilliant, we couldn’t make out any detail. The light that came from it burned and prickled our skin like it was raining boiling water. It lowered to about fifty-feet above our campsite then suddenly shot straight-up into the night sky and disappeared”. Mr. Ferguson, his friends and guides cut short their trip and returned to the nearest village and after receiving medical attention, discovered that they were all suffering from a mild case of radiation burns. While Chinese authorities stated that nothing appeared on radar and air defenses, several reports were made over a wide area claiming to have seen a brilliant light performing phenomenal aerodynamics.

- “At first we rationalized-away the strange events happening around our home, until we all began to witness ghostly figures moving through our house and they began to physically injure us in clear view of others”, states Terry, a 35-year-old wife and mother of two from upstate New York. “While I’m open-minded, my husband is an atheist and a skeptic and insisted that there must be some sort of rational explanation for the incidents. He refused to listen to others about ‘ghosts’ and ‘poltergeists’ and tried to dismiss-away the incidents. Then one Saturday morning, he woke me up frantic with a black eye and bloody nose and insisted that they all get out of the house”. Terry and her family were claiming to be under attack of what is referred to as ‘poltergeist phenomena’. While thousands of haunts and poltergeists are continually reported around the world, the actual number that are as violent as Terry’s case is unknown since the majority of people who have these experiences prefer to keep them private.

“From a psychological and physiological standpoint, these people (those who have encountered phenomena) have been deeply affected by their real or perceived experiences”, states Christopher Chacon, one of the world’s leading experts on paranormal and supernatural phenomena. Chacon adds, “In some cases, they are seriously traumatized by these experiences, so it is imperative to first and foremost address the well-being of the ‘experiencers’ before further exploration of the claimed phenomenon”. In addition to being a highly regarded Parapsychologist and a professional magician and illusionist, Chacon is one of the world’s top Anomalists, formerly a scientific investigator with a global scientific think-tank that specialized in anomalous phenomena. He is also one of the foremost authorities on ancient supernatural practices and the occult. He has almost forty years of experience having conducted thousands of cases all the world dealing with every type of phenomena imaginable. Amongst the phenomena he has dealt with includes; haunts and poltergeists, UFO close encounters, miracles and experiences of divine-intervention, possessions and exorcisms, encounters with extraordinary life-forms and all manner of psychic phenomena, from reincarnation and remote-viewing to psychokinesis. Chacon has also participated on countless highly sensitive expeditions dealing with ancient rituals and artifacts, mysticism and obscure occult discoveries.

While he has no doubt encountered phenomena that the majority of us cannot even fathom, Chacon approaches every situation with an open mind, typically refraining from defining it until otherwise determined. “It would be irresponsible to conjecture on the true nature of any specific phenomenon that is being experienced until I am at least able get a first-hand assessment of it myself”, responds Chacon. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of belief-systems when dealing with these phenomena.” Chacon reiterates that the ‘mindset’ and method of approaching these phenomena is as crucial as every other element and dynamic involving the experience itself. “Belief systems, both yours and the experiencer’s are certainly a pivotal key when exploring any phenomena. From the analyzing of how beliefs affect the perception of such claimed experiences or exploring the possible connections to origins in quantum physics.” Chacon points out that belief systems can also blind the observer from the true nature of a situation, stating, “Just as the complexities of predispositions and beliefs can cause a believer to perceive experiences that are not there, they can equally cause the nonbeliever to perceptually deny that an experience is taking place.” Chacon further adds that the inclination and overemphasis to logically separate the ‘normal’ from the ‘paranormal’ could very well cause one to unknowingly lose sight on the real issue. “This might be a matter of semantics, but one could certainly argue that there is no ‘true’ supernatural phenomena, there is only natural phenomena (things we can comprehend) and preternatural phenomena (things we have yet to grasp). Of course whether we call it supernatural or preternatural, paranormal or anomalous, it doesn’t take-away the fact that people of all walks of life, of all ages and belief systems are having these ‘experiences’ and it would be illogical and irresponsible to simply focus entirely on the phenomena, without tending to the state of the ‘experiencer’.” Chacon certainly has his work cutout for himself, with a backlog of hundreds of cases and requests for his assistance coming in daily from all over the world. These inquiries are as wide-ranging as the phenomena themselves and vary from an ordinary family on a South Pacific Island, to an industrial company in the Middle East, from high-ranking religious officials in Europe to a law enforcement agency in South America.

As supernatural and paranormal occurrences continue to be reported in more frequency, there has been much conjecture about the true cause behind the massive popularity of these phenomena. A few skeptics have claimed that the media and Hollywood’s most popular movies on the ‘paranormal’ are solely responsible for proliferating many of the beliefs in such phenomena. And while the media can certainly have an effect on reinforcing beliefs and the propagation of them, sociologists and psychologists disagree, stating that Hollywood’s creations are not responsible for ‘originating’ beliefs, but rather have created an environment that allows for a more open dialogue for discussion of them. One only needs to look at the origin and source material that inspires paranormal-themed media to see that the overwhelming belief of these phenomena is based in actual experiences rather then what is later experienced on the big or little screen. Many of the most successful Hollywood ‘paranormal’ blockbusters, like “Poltergeist”, “The Exorcist” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, are actually inspired by pre-existing research and ‘real life’ accounts taken from hundreds of sources. The phenomena in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for example, was inspired by a mountain of research, both anecdotal and scientific, and then dramatically spun by Spielberg into his phenomenal smash hit. Spielberg himself had given special thanks to Dr. J Allen Hynek whose research inspired the majority of the movie, giving Hynek a cameo in the film. The evidence that the ‘media’ is solely responsible for paranormal belief is weak at best. This is additionally supported by the millions of people around the world, some in third world countries, who have never seen a Hollywood movie or ‘western television’ for that matter, and yet have substantial belief systems and experiences associated with ghosts, extraterrestrials, strange creatures and psychic phenomena. This goes to show that we certainly don’t need TV or movies to instill a belief or maintain the fascination in the paranormal and supernatural.

Whether a believer or a skeptic, Halloween in the U.S. might be the one time of the year that both stand united in simply having a goodtime in the shadow of such reported phenomena. The origins of Halloween itself lay in supernatural beliefs and an ancient Celtic festival that dates back some 2,000 years. Originally called, Samhain (pronounced sow-in), the festival originated amidst the region now known as the United Kingdom and celebrated the one night each year that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became indistinguishable. On this night, the Celts believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth for good or for bad and allowed Druid priests to additionally interact with them for the wellbeing of them all. Over the course of hundreds of years, early Christianity would attempt to suppress and replace the Celtic festival with All Saints' Day that was celebrated on November 1st, a holy day of obligation to honor saints and martyrs in the Christian faith. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. But even the powerful influence of the church was unable to squelch the ‘supernatural’ festival and Halloween endured and flourished over the centuries to become the sensationalistic celebration it is today in the U.S..

In many ways, Halloween has become an outlet and a celebration of the paranormal and a creative way of putting a ‘fun spin’ on mysterious phenomena that might usually invoke fear. During Halloween, which is now a multi-billion dollar industry that comes second only to Christmas, the demand for entertainment, merchandise and assorted supernatural-horror themed supplies have sky-rocketed. In addition to the traditional movie and TV entertainment that features spine-tingling chills, live-event haunted attractions have become the biggest rage, commonly selling-out. Several metropolitan areas in the U.S., including New York City, Chicago, San Francisco bay area, Miami and Los Angeles area, all possess hundreds of horror-themed mazes and attractions, several of them major theme-parks that have been transformed into fully-integrated ‘scream attractions’.

While Halloween is still mostly an American ‘commercial phenomenon’, little-by-little every year, evidence that the spooky holiday is being embraced globally is being seen more and more. UNICEF itself has a special “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” program aimed to empower kids, not just in the U.S., but in other countries as well, by trick-or-treating for donations to help their counter-parts in need all over the world. The reluctance to embrace Halloween in other countries has been primarily due to the seriousness that the supernatural and paranormal is taken in other cultures. While the western world can make light of beliefs, both religious and metaphysical, other old-world cultures are very sensitive-to and deeply immersed in their beliefs and find such ‘playfulness’ like the Amercanized-version of Halloween to be considered as ‘taboo’ and in some cultures even ‘sacrilegious’.

Whether or not you are believer in otherworldly phenomena, one thing is for certain, with every passing year, the popularity of this ‘scary season’ grows to new heights along with the global year-round fascination in the paranormal and supernatural. And while the majority of us will be reveling in a fun-filled Halloween season where ‘scarier’ is often considered better, the knowledge that Chacon will be dealing with real-life paranormal phenomena somewhere in the world is an eerie reminder of what this ‘scary season’ is based on.

Article Copyright© Melissa B. Newman - reproduced with permission.



 
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