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A Ghostly Trio of Haunted Posts for Halloween

A Ghostly Trio of Haunted Posts for Halloween

image: West Point magazine Fall 2011 (link), with added specter from Wikimedia commons (link).

The important annual holiday of Halloween is upon us, and if you have not already done so, you may wish to go back to the post from a few days prior which discusses the spiritual meaning and symbolism of this annual autumnal festival.

Newer visitors to this blog may not know it, but there have been several ghostly posts from the past which explored the phenomenon of phantoms. Here are some links to a few of them for your All-Hallow's Eve enjoyment!

1. "Scary Ghost Story (West Point)" October 31, 2011.

Perhaps the spookiest of them all, especially because I can well remember some of the first-hand or second-hand stories I heard from other cadets while at West Point of the eerie experiences that would sometimes take place at night in "the Divisions" -- specifically the 47th Division (pictured above). Some of these included awakening in the middle of the night to the feeling of someone or something pressing down on their chest with enough force to make it difficult to breathe.

2. "The Cheltenham Ghost" December 03, 2012.

Account of the apparition seen by numerous witnesses over a period of several years during the 1880s at a house in Cheltenham, England. Guaranteed to send shivers up your spine.

3. "Is the Cavalier Hotel really haunted?" July 12, 2012.

I've been to this hotel myself (a couple of times), and it certainly feels haunted! There have been numerous accounts recorded over the years, which you can explore and evaluate for yourself.

Bonus selection: "Don't miss the intriguing interview with Sheldon Norberg on New Dimensions Radio" November 05, 2011.

This post features an amazing interview from 2011 with Sheldon Norberg, but unfortunately the public link to that interview is no longer free. However, you can still listen to it (and download it) for just $1.99 at the New Dimensions Radio website here, and if this is a subject that interests you, it is well worth the price! You can also check out a short TV feature from 2011 in which Sheldon Norberg discusses his work here.

Also, along with its discussion of the concept of houses which seem to have some supernatural presences attached to them, this same post discusses some of the other haunted locations on the old post of West Point, including an old house on "Colonels' Row" which I was told on very good authority has a very strong presence in the upper rooms of the house.


The Cheltenham ghost

Previous posts have discussed the pervasive belief in strict materialism that has taken hold of much of "western society" in the past hundred to one hundred fifty years (see for instance "The ideology of materialism," from June 13, 2012).  

This ideology is aggressively taught in schools and universities, and reinforced in "nature shows" and films and news stories from the conventionally-approved sources.  We are constantly told that strict materialism is "scientific," and that any doubts about the absolute truth of the materialistic dogma are "unscientific."  Those who question it can face professional criticism, censure, and ridicule. 

However, there is extensive evidence calling this materialist ideology into question, evidence which critical thinkers should at least consider before blindly accepting the conventional materialist teachings.  Some of this evidence has been discussed in previous posts, such as 
This is an important subject with connections to many fields of inquiry which might at first seem unrelated to it.  

I personally believe that an adherence to a strict materialist dogma can lead to rejection of the evidence showing extremely advanced scientific knowledge in extremely early civilizations, because alternative historical paradigms involving "lost civilizations" with advanced knowledge threaten the Darwinist timelines that many materialists cling to like a lifeline.  Some examples from the massive pile evidence suggesting an extremely advanced lost ancient civilization are discussed in this and this previous post, although many more could be offered.

The materialist ideology, with its teaching that consciousness is a product of the material organs of the body and that consciousness cannot therefore exist apart from the body, can by this teaching stifle the pursuit of "higher consciousness."  If the materialist ideology is in fact wrong, than this stifling of consciousness among the masses of people who are beaten down with materialist propaganda is pernicious.  There is ample evidence that the ancients knew that consciousness can exist apart from the body and that they placed tremendous importance on this fact (see for example the line of discussion in the posts surrounding the possible "shamanic tradition in ancient Egypt").

Because he systematically and thoroughly examines various types of evidence that human consciousness can exist apart from the body, and in fact may well survive the death of the body (in contradiction to the strict materialist paradigm), the works of Chris Carter become all the more noteworthy in light of the discussion above.  I previously discussed his latest outstanding work, Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness, and provided a short description of one of the most memorable pieces of evidence in his book for the survival of consciousness (the full account in the book itself is even more memorable, and well worth reading at the source).

Another spine-tingling case study presented in Chris Carter's book (which again deserves to be read in full in the book itself, and is only briefly summarized here) is the case of the Cheltenham ghost.  This involved an apparition seen by numerous observers on numerous occasions in a large residential stone house in Cheltenham, England, between the years 1882 and 1889.  

In addition to the family members and visitors to the house who reported seeing the ghost (and the dogs which appeared to react with nervousness or fright at its appearance), the haunting was investigated by at least two members of England's Society for Psychical Research during the period of the sightings, including one described as "one of the SPR's most skeptical investigators," and they tried various tests to see if it could have been some kind of hoax or have some other non-supernatural explanation, but eventually rejected most of these possibilities.  

The apparition at the Cheltenham house was described as a tall woman in black.  The first to see her, Rosina Despard, was a member of the family who lived in the home, and was a nineteen-year-old medical student in 1882, when she first saw the ghost.  Chris Carter presents her description on page 94:
The figure was that of a tall lady, dressed in black of a soft woolen material, judging from the slight sound in moving.  The face was hidden in a handkerchief held in the right hand.  This was all I noticed then; but on further occasions, when I was able to observe her more closely, I saw the upper part of the left side of the forehead, and a little of the hair above.  Her left hand was nearly hidden by her sleeve and a fold of her dress.  As she held it down a portion of a widow's cuff was visible on both wrists, so that the whole impression was that of a lady in widow's weeds.
The book presents numerous other first-hand accounts, and they are enough to send shivers through the reader.  Rosina also tried experiments, possibly suggested to her by the investigators from the SPR, such as gluing fine strings across the stairway that the lady in black would often descend, but wrote that on at least two occasions the figure passed right through them and that they were later found to be intact upon examination.  Later sightings were also reported by servants who had not been told about the apparition (the family apparently wanted to keep these sightings somewhat private at first, fearing for Rosina's medical career and reputation, and for the value of the property itself). 

They reported that the sightings were most numerous in the months of July and August of 1884, but that they became less frequent and the figure itself less distinct by 1886, and that reports were infrequent after that, ceasing entirely after 1889 or so.

Chris Carter's book provides various possible "materialistic" explanations for this series of events, some of which were offered at the time and some of which have been proposed later, but he points out numerous problems with all of them.  The reader can decide for himself or herself how convincing the evidence is in this case and in the others that are offered in the book.

While I am generally of the opinion that no single data point should be decisive when reaching conclusions about complex and momentous questions, such as the existence of an advanced ancient civilization that upends conventional historical models, or the survival of human consciousness after the death of the body, it is certainly important to examine as much evidence as possible, and the eyewitness accounts of the Cheltenham ghost are a very important series of "data points" in the debate over materialism.

I would again recommend all of Chris Carter's books on the question of consciousness, and that readers keep an open mind about the strong likelihood that our consciousness exists on a plane that is beyond the strictly material. 

Chris Carter's Science and the Afterlife Experience

I recently had the unforgettable experience of reading Chris Carter's Science and the Afterlife Experience for the first time, and cannot recommend it highly enough to every reader who is interested in the subject of our existence here in this body and whether that existence continues after the death of the body.

If you have not read it yet yourself, you are in for a treat.  

This newly-released examination of the evidence for the survival of consciousness and personality after the death of the material body is the powerful concluding volume in Chris Carter's three-volume examination of the evidence for "super-natural" (or "super-material") aspects to human consciousness (with some evidence for similar super-material aspects to animal consciousness as well).  I have discussed the previous two volumes in previous posts, "Chris Carter's Science and the Near-Death Experience" (the second in the series) and "Chris Carter's Science and Psychic Phenomena" (the first in the series).

The evidence in this third book -- and the carefully-documented accounts underlying that evidence -- is even more gripping than that presented in the first two books.  The cases themselves are unforgettable, beginning with the first section on reincarnation, continuing into the second section on apparitions, and finally the third and longest (and perhaps most compelling) section on communication from those who have crossed over into the great beyond.

Throughout, Chris Carter builds a carefully-reasoned and sober case for the conclusion that human consciousness consists of something more than the strictly material, and that it survives the death and dissolution of the material body.  

He does not ignore the fact that such an assertion is tremendously controversial, and that many respected and well-educated analysts vehemently deny such a possibility.  He states right up front that such contrary arguments are important and that honest critics must be given an opportunity to provide alternative explanations for the evidence at hand, saying on page 11 that "Genuine skepticism is an important part of science."  Throughout the book, as he has in previous volumes, he examines at great length the alternative explanations that have been put forward, and the strengths and weaknesses of each argument for and against the survival hypothesis.

It is the evidence that is provided to counter the most determined skeptics that really astonishes the reader, proving the point that skepticism is important (without it, some of the experiments described might never have been attempted).  Among the cases that appear most well-documented and publicly-accountable -- and which leave perhaps the deepest impression on the reader -- are the "cross correspondences" of Frederic Myers, and the remarkable chess game between Grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi and the deceased Grandmaster Geza Maroczy.

That chess match was arranged to demonstrate that that the "medium" supposedly channeling the consciousness of a deceased individual would have great difficulty mimicking a skill which the medium did not possess -- in this case, a level of chess-playing skill that only a few individuals in the world ever achieve (other examples cited in the book with evidence of eyewitnesses include speaking in languages unknown to the medium, while supposedly in contact with individuals who during their life had spoken such languages).  Chris Carter explains that in the mid-1980s, 
asset-manager and amateur chess player Dr. Wolfgang Eisenbeiss decided to initiate a chess match between living and deceased persons.  Eisenbeiss had been acquianted with the automatic-writing medium Robbert Rollans (1914-1993) for eight years, and trusted his assertion that he did not know how to play chess and had no knowledge of chess history.  Rollans was not paid for his services, and his stated motive for participation was to provide support for the survival hypothesis. 

Eisenbeiss was able to persuade the world-famous chess champion Viktor Korchnoi, then ranked third in the world, to participate.  Korchnoi was ranked second in the world for more than a decade, and was described in Chessbase (April 4, 2002) as "unquestionably one of the great chess players of all time."

Eisenbeiss gave Rollans a list of deceased grandmasters and asked him to find one who would be willing to participate in a game.  On June 15, 1985, a communicator claiming to be the deceased Hugarian grandmaster Geza Maroczy confirmed his willingness to play, and then opened the game by making the first move.  Geza Maroczy was ranked third in the world in 1900, and was known for his remarkably strong endgame.  204-205.
This amazing event makes fascinating reading, and is very difficult to explain away by the skeptics.  It is difficult to argue that Korchnoi or some other living chess grandmaster was somehow in on an elaborate scheme to fool the public.  For one thing, Korchnoi never actually communicated with Rollans in person -- the entire game was played with Eisenbeiss as the intermediary.  Abundant evidence surrounding the case and discussed in detail by Chris Carter in his examination of the match make it very difficult to argue that the thoroughly-documented and highly-scrutinized game was a ruse.

Further, the style of the play was consistent with that of Maroczy during life, and would have been extremely difficult to imitate (especially when the game progressed and his reputation for brilliant endgame play surfaced in moves that no mere amateur could have thrown at Grandmaster Korchnoi). At the twenty-seventh move of the match, Viktor Korchnoi commented on the quality of the play of his opponent, saying:
During the opening phase Maroczy showed weakness.  His play is old-fashioned.  But I must confess that my last moves have not been too convincing.  I am not sure I will win.  He has compensated the faults of the opening by a strong end-game.  In the end-game the ability of a player shows up and my opponent plays very well.  206.

There are other pieces of evidence surrounding this match that Chris Carter brings out which make it quite a compelling case in support of the survival of consciousness after death.  And there are many other similarly-compelling cases in the book -- cases which should be more widely-known because they provide such important perspectives on this critical subject.  Every human being should have access to this evidence and be allowed to examine it for himself or herself.

Chris Carter has done his readers an invaluable service by collecting this evidence and presenting it in such a clear and sober manner.  He guides us through it with lucid comments and insightful analysis, and brings in the possible alternative explanations and the arguments of those opposed to the survival hypothesis whenever appropriate.  

The conclusions at the end, and the discussion of a theory that ties all of this evidence together, have far-reaching implications.  This is a profound and important subject, and one with tremendous potential to impact on many levels the way we live our lives.

Readers of this post may also want to check out previous posts discussing other evidence relevant to this subject (from cases not found in the above book), such as:


Chris Carter's Science and the Near-Death Experience

Below is the text of a review I recently published regarding Chris Carter's remarkable book, Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death.

Chris Carter's examination of the documented accounts of near-death experiences -- and his analysis of the implications of this corpus on our understanding of human consciousness -- should be essential reading for everyone with a mind and a body. His analysis is sober and decisive, which makes the remarkable conclusion that the evidence appears to suggest all the more compelling. He carefully examines the evidence and thoroughly presents the various theories that have so far been advanced to explain this evidence, including those of the most committed skeptics. He gives full weight to the various objections and probes those objections to see whether they have merit, demolishing most of them in the process (and giving them their due if to the extent that they present valid alternative ways of understanding the evidence).

The book's calm and dispassionate presentation of the descriptions of NDEs themselves is gripping, and the accounts (often in the words of the survivors and occasionally in the words of attending surgeons and physicians) are unforgettable. This aspect of the human experience should not be hidden from the general public and this book belongs in everyone's home library (and should be translated into as many languages as possible).

Finally, Chris Carter's analysis of the implications for the question of "consciousness" is both important and fascinating. He is eminently qualified for the task, and characteristically thorough and articulate in his discussion. This analysis actually is arranged in the first half of the book, so those who hunger to read the moving accounts and discussion of NDEs could go to them first and then dive into the question of consciousness, while those who choose to read it straight through may want to start right back at the beginning after reaching the end the first time, because the weight of the evidence offered by the NDE discussion makes the discussion of different theories of human consciousness seem all the more vital.

This book truly possesses the potential to advance our understanding of what it means to be human.
This really is a book that everyone possessed of a body and a brain should have an interest in examining. Furthermore, its subject is by no means off-topic to the general subject matter covered in this blog, as the boundary between the worlds of life and death is absolutely central to much of the ancient cosmology of the celestial world, discussed for example in this previous post.

Chris Carter's book is an intriguing analysis of the subject of the NDE and its implications. Part I of the book provides a fascinating and important analysis of the question, "Does consciousness depend on the brain?" He points out that NDEs provide some of the strongest evidence refuting the strict materialist dogma that consciousness depends on the brain. Some of the most fascinating discussion in the book concerns the possibility that, rather than somehow producing or manufacturing consciousness, the brain actually functions as a receiver or a transmitter of consciousness, or even perhaps that "the brain functions as a selective inhibitor of consciousness" (100).

The descriptions of actual NDEs, which begin in earnest in Part II of the book (chapters seven through seventeen) are stunning all by themselves. During this portion of the book, Chris Carter provides scholarly and thorough analysis, and then examines various theories which have been proposed to try to explain the NDE evidence while still asserting that consciousness depends upon the physical mechanism of the brain. He provides a clear assessment of the strengths of each the various materialistic explanations, and points out ways in which the weight of the evidence from NDEs appear to undermine those materialistic explanations.

This subject, as well as one of the most famous NDEs on record (which is discussed thoroughly in Chris Carter's book) was visited earlier in the blog post entitled "The ideology of materialism."

Finally, the book concludes with an amazing discussion of deathbed experiences from both recent history and older records, in which persons who actually did not recover reported experiences and visions quite similar to those documented in thousands of NDE accounts. Chris Carter's analysis of the similarities (and differences) -- and the implications of these similarities and differences -- is original and important.

This is a book that demands the serious attention of everyone who is interested in the question of consciousness. Furthermore, it is the second in a trilogy by Chris Carter discussing scientific evidence bearing on the question of consciousness, following the first book in the series entitled Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics (which is discussed in this previous post).

The third book in this trilogy is due out at the end of this month. It will be called Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness. While it appears that it will spend quite a bit of time discussing apparitions (which I find somewhat scary to read about, as I mentioned in this previous post), I'm sure I will be sitting down to see what Chris Carter has to say in the third book of this outstanding series soon after it hits the market.

Paranormal Pizza Kitchen?

There are plenty of videos on the internet featuring people who claim to have experienced paranormal activity and showing the room or hallway where they describe what they saw or felt, but what is somewhat unique about the video above is the fact that it contains footage from a security video showing objects moving, apparently without explanation, in an ostensibly empty restaurant.

Another uncommon aspect of the above video, which was posted recently on the website of a local Louisiana television station,  is that the alleged paranormal activity took place in the kitchen of a friendly little corner pizzeria, rather than an old Victorian mansion or aging beachfront hotel.

Skeptics may say that the two large ice scoops that can be seen flying through the air to the floor in the security footage might have been pulled by someone off-camera using monofilament fishing line, or some other trickery in order to gain attention and possibly increased business, and that is certainly a possibility to investigate further.

However, the worker who claims to have found the scoops on the floor the next day and then gone back through the security footage to find the video evidence also claims to have been hit in the back by a flying bottle of Tabasco sauce and to have experienced other strange events involving moving objects while working.

Skeptics may then wonder what Tabasco sauce is doing in a kitchen where pizzas are prepared, but keep in mind that the scene of the alleged activity is in Louisiana, the home state of the flavorful hot sauce created by avid gardener Edmund McIlhenny in the 1860s.  Perhaps the pizzeria in question has a secret sauce that contains Tabasco (if so, it may be worth a visit).

While it is of course important to apply critical analysis and "due diligence" to any evidence which appears to contradict the well-entrenched models or paradigms which form the foundation for our understanding of the universe, it is also true that just because these frameworks are well-entrenched or long-standing does not necessarily mean that they cannot be incorrect or incomplete.

As more and more "data-points" of evidence turn up which appear to call the conventional model into question, it is only reasonable to keep an open mind rather than resort to dogmatic dismissal and ridicule (which, unfortunately, appears to be the first response of many defenders of the existing paradigm in many fields of human experience today).

Is the Cavalier Hotel really haunted?

I recently had the opportunity to revisit Virginia Beach, Virginia and to see the historic Cavalier Hotel again, a famous old hotel which opened in 1927.

Known as the "hotel that made Virginia Beach famous" and "the aristocrat of the Virginia seashore," the hotel has hosted several US presidents and once was the largest hirer of big bands in the world, entertaining the guests of its Beach Club with artists such as Glen Miller and Cab Calloway.

As is the case with many icons of past glory -- especially those with one or more tragic events in their past -- the hotel is reputed to be haunted.

Here is a link to a section of the book Haunted Virginia Beach by Alpheus Chewning which describes the many ghost stories associated with the "Grand Dame of the Shore," many of them involving lights, noises, and other activity in the upper storeys during the months that the hotel is closed (it is only open to guests during the period between June 15 and Labor Day).

Here is a link to an eerie photograph and account from a recent visitor who was in the area in April of 2011 and decided to have a look around, even though the hotel was closed for the off-season.

You can decide for yourself what to make of the many descriptions of paranormal encounters at the old hotel.  At the very least, these sorts of accounts, which are found the world over, raise questions about human consciousness and whether consciousness survives the death of the body -- a proposition which is denied by the "ideology of materialism."

A few previous posts which have touched on this important question include:
Recent posts have also explored the work of Jeremy Naydler, who finds evidence that the ancient Egyptians knew that consciousness could move into a realm beyond the material and who deliberately participated in rituals designed to enable out-of-body travel into the spirit world.

If you ever find yourself in Virginia Beach, you may be interested in paying a visit to the historic old Cavalier Hotel.

The ideology of materialism

Materialism is an extremely pervasive philosophy which asserts that nothing exists beyond the material universe, which is composed of matter and energy (with matter and energy, of course, related as described by the work of Albert Einstein, who was not necessarily a materialist). 

The tenets of materialism flatly deny the existence of the supernatural, as well as the possibility that consciousness can exist separately from its material source (materialists assert that consciousness in humans and in anything else possessing consciousness is the product of electrochemical or other physical products of a material organ such as the brain).  Non-physical beings (such as angels, perhaps) are impossible in such a philosophy, as is life after death.

In two essays available on the internet, philosophy professor Dr. Neal Grossman argues (citing an assertion by philosopher Robert Almeder) that not only does the overwhelming scientific evidence support the possibility that a rational person could reject materialism, but that the overwhelming scientific evidence supports the assertion that it is irrational to continue to accept materialism.

In the essays (entitled "Who's afraid of life after death?" part one and part two), Professor Grossman presents compelling evidence that consciousness can exist separately from the material organs that materialists would argue are the engines of consciousness.  He cites, for example, the case of a patient described in cardiologist Dr. Michael Sabom's Light and Death:
In this case, the patient had her NDE while her body temperature was lowered to 60 degrees, and all the blood was drained from her body. “Her electroencephalogram was silent, her brain-stem response was absent, and no blood flowed through her brain.” A brain in this state cannot create any kind of experience. Yet the patient reported a profound NDE.

Those materialists who believe that consciousness is secreted by the brain, or that the brain is necessary for conscious experience to exist, cannot possibly explain, in their own terms, cases such as this one. An impartial observer would have to conclude that not all experience is produced by the brain, and that therefore the falsity of materialism has been empirically demonstrated. Thus, what needs to be explained is the abysmal failure of the academic establishment to examine this evidence and to embrace the conclusion: Materialism is false, and consciousness can and does exist independently of the body.
Professor Grossman has also written the foreword to Chris Carter's Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death, which delves into this issue in great detail and examines many other pieces of evidence suggesting that the core materialist denial of consciousness apart from physical causes cannot be correct.  This book is the sequel to Mr. Carter's excellent Science and Psychic Phenomena, which was discussed in this previous post

Several other previous posts also present evidence and discussion that is relevant to the question of whether one can honestly continue to maintain a strict materialism in the face of the evidence, such as "Moving report of elephants mourning the passing of 'Elephant Whisperer' Lawrence Anthony," "Titanic, premonitions, and the nature of consciousness," "A heartfelt portrait of John Blofeld, from Daniel P. Reid," "Don't miss the intriguing interview with Sheldon Norberg on New Dimensions Radio," "Scary ghost story (West Point)" and  "Rupert Sheldrake and Morphic Resonance."

Aside from its tremendous importance to our day-to-day lives, and its inherent interest, what does this subject have to do with the topic of ancient civilizations and theories that contradict the conventional academic historical narrative?  Quite a lot. 

First, of course, much of what the ancient civilizations were about seems to involve consciousness and the survival of the soul after death. 

Beyond that connection, however, is the fact that the "conventional academic historical narrative" is firmly founded upon a strict materialist paradigm, one that is currently dependent upon the Darwinian theory of origins to explain the existence of humans at all, and therefore one which paints a picture of human history that involves slow and gradual progress from primitive towards greater and greater levels of sophistication and technological advancement.  Theories which demonstrate that the further back we go the greater sophistication and technological advancement we seem to find present a profound challenge to this materialist paradigm and are generally rejected out-of-hand.

Professor Grossman's article (and his introduction to Chris Carter's book) demonstrate that proponents of materialism vehemently reject any evidence that suggests consciousness can exist independently of physicality.  He notes that there is a category of belief in materialism in which "materialism as an ideology, or paradigm, about how things 'must' be, which is impervious to evidence (this is the hallmark of an unscientific hypothesis—that evidence is not relevant for its truth)." 

I would argue that this same "ideology of materialism" he is describing prevents many adherents of that ideology from an honest examination of the evidence regarding ancient civilizations, and the evidence regarding a catastrophic global flood.

The implications of materialism are thus quite profound.  We swim in an ocean that is so heavily informed by materialist assumptions that we do not often even think about them, let alone recognize their impact on our lives.  Articles such as those linked above by Professor Grossman, and books such as those by Chris Carter, are an extremely important reminder that we should be extremely suspicious of this pervasive ideology.