Friday, October 13, 2017

The Number 13, Friday the 13th, and the 13th Floor

Except for the number 666, no other number gives rise to more superstitions than does the Number 13. So how did evil become associated with Number 13?

In The Tarot, the Number 13 is associated with the Death card. Anyone getting a reading, after seeing the Death card, might assume that somebody, maybe even the person receiving the reading, will soon die, but that’s not necessarily true. Enlightened readers know that while the death of something or someone is inevitable, death also means rebirth or rising from the ashes – the ending of one thing; the beginning of something else.

In Numerology, the Number 13 becomes the number 4 when the two digits are added together. What does the number 4 mean in numerology? The numbers of the houses in astrology can give us a glimpse. House 4 is associated with family and home, and it strives for security. What are you supposed to learn about home – discipline, cooperation, and love. Scary? No!

Number 13, the first movie directed (and produced, but never shown) by Alfred Hitchcock in 1922 is a bit of a mystery. The obscurity of the movie alone casts a shadow over the number and adds to its intrigue.

Number 13, a TV movie made in 2006, assumes that a lack of the number 13 contributes to the superstition about the number 13.

The 13th floor, often missing from many high rises, contributes even more allure to the mystery of the number 13. Numerous movies include the 13th Floor in their title and the 13th floor is a staple in many haunted buildings just waiting for visitors to explore.

The date itself, Friday the 13th, is filled with predictions of catastrophes. However, nobody has ever proven the validity of such predictions. It’s just another day. So far!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Falling Water Controls Dreams

The new television series, Falling Water, created by Henry Bromell (deceased) and Blake Masters, appears on October 13, 2016, on the USA Network. I have to admit I’m intrigued already, because of my own experience sharing dreams – and also because of a bizarre and mystical dream shared with me by somebody close to me. 

On February 14, 2011, I wrote about that dream when I posted the following blog, When You Dream The Same Dream As Somebody Else. In that blog I relate the story of two sisters (whose names I changed for reasons that will be obvious if you read the blog), who, unknown to each other, dreamed the same dream, but from their own perspectives. It was a frightening dream that will have you reconsidering the idea of reincarnation, if you don’t already believe in it. Neither sister knew the other’s dreams so when I heard about the second sister’s dream years after learning about the first sister's dream, my mouth fell open. I think you’ll be awed as well. 

The premise of the movie sounds eerily similar to what is happening in my own writings, especially when I factor in the coincidence of a screenplay I wrote back in the 1990s (written, but never produced), entitled Flies on the Wall, a story about a group of teenagers who dabble in the paranormal, specifically, astral projection, astral travel, and remote viewing. Begun January 22, 1998, reworked throughout the entire first decade of the new millennium, and forgotten during the last 6 years, FOTW reentered my mind when commercials for Falling Water first appeared. Thanks to Falling Water, I’m revamping that screenplay!

People dreaming the same dream is probably not all that uncommon. A couple of times my oldest daughter and I dreamed the same dream. On one occasion, for example, she walked into my bedroom when she was only 2 years old and asked me why I was dreaming about bears. I had nightmares about them as a child and continued to have nightmares about bears into adulthood. I never talked about them, though, because I didn’t understand their significance in my dreams (I think I know now). 

So how did my daughter know that I was dreaming about bears? Was she psychic? Was she experiencing the same dream? In one dream I was outside my home. An already heavy mist became so thick I could see only a couple of inches in front of my face. I kept calling for my daughter and reaching out in the darkness for her, because I had seen her round the corner of the house, and I panicked that I would lose her, because she was no longer visible. As I ran after her through the mist, holding onto the outside wall of my house so I wouldn’t lose my way, I called her name just as she appeared in my room by my bed. She said she was scared, because she got lost in her dream and couldn’t find me.

In the TV series, Falling Water, three unrelated people, played by David Ajala, Lizzie Brocher√©, and Will Yun Lee, share parts of the same dream and, like my screenplay in which a group of people try to control experiences for my characters in the ether world, dreamers in Falling Water find themselves being controlled by others who reach them through their dreams. 

I’m looking forward to watching this series in October. From Falling Water: “If you can control people’s dreams, you can control the world.” 

Sounds deliciously mysterious, doesn’t it? If you’re not already as excited for this new series as I am, read these 11 Reasons to Get Excited About USA's New Series Falling Water!

And watch the trailer HERE!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sleep Paralysis or Spirit Visitation?

You lie in bed awaiting sleep, but just before you fall asleep, you feel the air around you become heavy. It grips you in such a way that every pore in your body feels smothered by it. You hear whispers you can’t decipher. Your heart pounds like a herd of horses trampling a field. And the heavy thumping waves of whoosh whoosh whoosh thunder in your ears. 

Oh no! It’s happening again! 

But what is IT?

You decide it must be a spirit, because you feel a presence in your room. You cry out for help, but no words escape your mouth. Fear engulfs you, and though you try to get up, you can’t move. You are awake in your own nightmare.

I have relived that horrible nightmare over and over again, and only recently did I learn that it had a name – Sleep Paralysis. But is that really all it is, a feeling of being paralyzed? That simple answer doesn’t address the feeling of a presence in the room. 

In the moments before we fall asleep, when the air around us closes in like a vice, can we really attribute that feeling to Sleep Paralysis? From what I’ve read and heard, everyone’s experiences seem similar, and many people attribute these events to spirit visits, alien abductions, or nocturnal visits from beasts (incubus, succubus). In my case, because one of these events ties in so closely to the death of a friend who promised to contact me when she died (read The Pact), I tend to think more in terms of spirit visits than anything else. 

Explanations for this phenomenon exist in documentaries, on YouTube, and in articles on the web. The best explanation I’ve read about Sleep Paralysis is Karen Emslie’s article, Awake in a Nightmare, written for The Atlantic

For me, Sleep Paralysis events appear just before I fall asleep. The transition between being awake and falling asleep is the most vulnerable time for me. Perhaps my fear that IT will happen again is why just the process of falling asleep often awakens me. Insomnia rules many of my nights. 

Because I attribute my experiences to spirit visits, especially because of the close ties I had with my friend, Katherine, I think that the veil between the worlds of life and death lifts during that transition. Loved ones long gone try to reach us in those moments when we drift into sleep. When their attempts to reach us fail, they appear to us in dreams. I prefer dream visits to the ones attributed to Sleep Paralysis.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ghost Virgins

Are YOU a Ghost Virgin?

originally published October 12, 2010, on a site that no longer exists

A three-year-old girl walks out of her bedroom where her baby sister sleeps. Their mother is in the living room and wants to know why her little girl is not in bed. "There's a man in my closet," the child explains. 

The mother panics. They live on the south side of Chicago in an old dilapidated building that is in such disrepair that one day it will be demolished. She cannot just grab her daughter and leave – she has to rescue her baby.

The mother, her whole body trembling, grabs a knife with a serrated edge and tiptoes into the bedroom. She cautiously maneuvers her way to the closet and reaches out to it with the knife twitching in her hand. 

Her heart pounds in her chest and thumps in her ears. The door creaks slowly open and she adjusts her eyes to the darkness.

What she sees is – an empty closet – the man is not there. The likelihood that he jumped out of the window is slim. They are three levels up.

I don't remember that day. My mother does. Vividly. I was the three-year-old who claimed to have seen the man in my closet. Was it a dream – or was it a ghost?

Even before that experience, and especially after I experienced a ghostly presence one night as an adult (explained in this article, Touched By a Ghost – click the link if you want to read it), I have believed in ghosts. Never once did I discount the possibility that spirits existed, because once I discovered in a science class that energy never died, and that we all move, breathe, think, and exist due to energy, I have believed that a part of me – a part of all of us – never dies.

Because our spirits live on, who's to say that some of us don't continue to live – on Earth?

Even so, I know of several people who, at one time or another, did not believe in ghosts, among them some ghost hunters who run their own ghost hunting television programs. They didn't believe in ghosts – until – they encountered them. 

If you have never believed in ghosts and have never had experiences with ghosts, you are a ghost virgin. Oftentimes, not until somebody experiences ghosts do they become believers in ghosts. 

So many people disbelieve what they watch on ghost hunting programs, because they think the only reason these shows are on television is for the ratings. I understand how they feel. Sometimes those of us who view the programs barely detect the words the ghost hunters claim to hear, and the ghostly apparitions appear to be nothing more than smoke. 

With all of the digital alteration programs available, modifying videos is not only possible, it's probable. Why should anybody believe anything they see anymore?

Eager to hear or see proof, though, we tune in to these programs and listen carefully. We watch like hawks the images that appear before us. Like pregnant couples who attend the ultrasound of their first baby and stare at the monitor saying, "Yeah, I see it," then leave and cry in each other's arms because they didn't want to admit to the technician that they couldn't recognize their own baby, we cannot always decipher what appears before us. 

What would it take for you to believe in ghosts? A hand on your shoulder when you are alone? Whispering in your ear when nobody is near you? I have experienced both, and I guarantee you that just because you can't see spirits doesn't mean they aren't all around you. 

Until the day you first hear a ghost, see a ghost, smell a ghost, or feel a ghost, you will remain a ghost virgin. I'm sure some (if not most) of you would prefer it that way.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Haunting in Beverly – I DO Believe In Ghosts – I DO, I DO!

In the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago's south side, old, massive homes line some of the streets in a spooky Halloween-type setting where tree branches look as if they might reach out to grab unsuspecting motorists and plunge them into depths unknown. One of those homes on one of those streets belonged to my friend, Clare. 

On the day I met her, I sat in front of her home for the first time, staring at the structure from inside my car. Something about the house caused my heart to palpitate and I felt instantly uncomfortable. The discomfort was so palpable, in fact, that I had to force myself to brush off my uneasiness just to make it up the sidewalk to the steps. With much trepidation, I climbed the stairs and tried to convince myself that my fearful perceptions sprouted only from my overactive imagination. 

"Want to see the rest of the house?" Clare asked after we drank tea at her dining room table.

No, not really, I wanted to say. But I accompanied her from room to room, anyway, the uneasiness following me with every creak on the floor and through every doorway. As Clare showed me around her spacious house with its giant rooms, she asked me if I wanted to see her basement. 

I didn't, but having never met her until that day, I didn't want to admit to her that basements have always frightened me. As I peered around the eerie underground space, I thought about Wes Craven. Was Clare's basement a model for his A Nightmare on Elm Street movies? Would I find Freddy Krueger lurking in the shadows? 

1984, the year I first met Clare, was the same year the first Nightmare movie appeared in theaters. Combining my feelings and observations with Clare's admission that she and her family shared their home with a ghost, I absolutely, with no hesitation, believed that a ghost lived in her home.

I met Clare through my oldest daughter, Keeley, who had been friends with three of Clare's children. Escaping the rants of her stepfather, Keeley moved in with Clare and had no apprehension at all about moving into Clare's home despite the fact that Clare AND her children had clearly stated that the house was haunted.

Unlike her mother, Keeley believed in nothing paranormal, so it was no wonder when, on her first night living in their home, she ignored admonitions not to intimidate the ghost – Keeley thought everybody was joking about him. 

Since Keeley was the only one tired enough to sleep that first night, everybody but Keeley remained downstairs. All of the bedrooms were upstairs, and if Keeley wanted to go upstairs by herself, she would be alone. Clare and her children were concerned about how Keeley would react if the ghost decided to appear to her in some form, so they reminded her again and again about the ghost.

In addition to the original Nightmare movie, Ghostbusters had also made its debut that same year, and after Clare and her children reminded Keeley again about their "houseghost" and asked once again if she would be OK going upstairs by herself, Keeley climbed the squeaky steps and flippantly remarked, "I'll be fine – if he bothers me, I'll just call the Ghostbusters." 

Clare and her children exchanged knowing glances, thinking her remark would be just enough to set off the ghost, and warned, "He's not going to like that," but Keeley was so certain that no ghostly activity whatsoever would occur, she dismissed their warnings, ascended the creaking stairs to the room they had assigned to her, and jumped on the bed, ready for a good night's sleep.  

Nonbelievers generally don't believe in ghosts until they experience their own ghostly encounters. Some former nonbelievers, after having had experiences with ghosts, now run their own ghost hunting companies. Some of them even televise their findings. Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel and Paranormal State that used to appear on A&E are two ghost hunting programs that come to mind. 

I sometimes wonder what would convince a nonbeliever of a ghost's authenticity, because while I have had my share of ghostly encounters (read Touched By a Ghost if you want to read about one of them), I have always believed in them.

Keeley, on the other hand, had never believed in them. So on her first night at Clare's house, after she had found her room and sat down on the bed, in less than a minute, one single event challenged every belief Keeley had ever held. Because in that minute, as she sat down on the bed, with Clare's family awake and only one floor below her, the bedside table lifted off the ground beside her, and hung in mid-air, rocking.

Something strange happens to the throat of a person who is frightened beyond comprehension – a voice chokes into silence and any attempt to make sound becomes thwarted. Though she tried to scream for help, no voice erupted;  though she tried to thrash her arms and legs around, no movement ensued.

Like the Cowardly Lion who holds his tail, closes his eyes, and cries, "I do believe in ghosts" (in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz), Keeley would now admit to believing in ghosts.

So what about you? Do you think that not believing in something means it doesn't exist, or are you open to the possibility that beings exist beyond our abilities to perceive them through any of our five physical senses and that they roam among us on this planet? If you don't believe in ghosts, what would it take to make a believer out of you?

Just wondering.

One more thing: consider the house's history when purchasing a home in any old neighborhood. Why? Because when Clare sold her house and I asked her if she told the new owners about the occupant she left behind, she responded, "Nobody told me when I moved in and nobody asked me when I sold it." 

I can tell you with certainty that if I ever move into an older home, I'll find out about its history BEFORE I move in.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Astrological Synergy Between The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr

Energy moves our bodies, wires the synapses in our brains, and lights up our world. Synergy is the combined effect generated by the interaction between or the cooperation of two or more organisms that results in something greater than what each individual alone could expect to accomplish.

Individually, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were/are amazing musicians. Together, however, they were exceptional, sensational, phenomenal, and inspirational.

The exchange of energy begins when two creative geniuses (Lennon and McCartney) connect. When others of like mind join forces (Harrison and Starr), they contribute their creative energies as well. 

That energy exchange between hard-working, committed people with a common goal is often palpable. The energy involved in the dynamics of those types of groups is so powerful, in fact, that it can profoundly impact an entire world, as it did with The Beatles. 

Though energy can be measured, it can't yet be analyzed. For instance, what constitutes success in group dynamics? If one person in a group is taken out of the group, how does the group change? Would The Beatles have been THE BEATLES if even one member had been replaced by someone else?

When John Lennon and Paul McCartney met, they connected on a level that allowed them to support and encourage each other while they merged their unique talents and their individual styles. Some part of each of them was drawn toward the other through some invisible force that created musical harmony. They became a team with a purpose. 

When George Harrison joined The Beatles, another element was added to the duo – another dimension where more energy interacted with the already established duo and the relationship changed to include George. By the time Ringo Starr became a member of The Beatles, all of the elements necessary for an electric and eclectic mix of poetry, magic, and music combined to create the phenomenon known as The Beatles.

The dynamics of any group, however, are complicated. In the case of The Beatles, those relationships included not only the relationship between the four of them, but also John's relationship with Paul, John's relationship with George, John's relationship with Ringo, Paul's relationship with George, Paul's relationship with Ringo, George's relationship with Ringo, and a still different dynamic when only three of them were together.

Combine talent with skill, innovation with music, and personality with passion, and you get The Beatles. The Beatles affected people of all ages around the globe. Would it be possible to duplicate that kind of success in the music world again?

Energy in a horoscope is found through aspects – the way the planets and signs relate to each other. Can the merging of the energies with The Beatles be shown astrologically? 

Astrologers look for many factors when trying to determine relationships between people. One of those factors is harmonics, or the mathematical relationship between various aspects in two or more horoscopes. 

An astrology chart is divided into twelve houses. Beginning on the left side of the circle, just below the horizon, sits the first house. Going in a counter-clockwise direction, the next house (the second house) sits next to the third house, and so on until the chart ends at the twelfth house. The astrological chart is a mathematical computation that takes into account the longitude and latitude of the birth place, the exact time of birth, and the date of the individual's birth.

Once the math has been computed (in the "old days" astrologers computed everything by hand and it sometimes took hours – today computer horoscope programs take only seconds after inputting the information), the astrologer (or program) assigns planets and signs to individual houses and interprets the relationships between those planets and signs.

Conjunctions (planets and signs that align with each other) and trines (planets and signs that are four houses away from each other) show "easy" relationships. Squares (planets and signs that are three houses away from each other) and oppositions (planets and signs that are six houses away from each other) show friction or "hard" aspects.

In the case of the Beatles, the relationship between the four (see graphic with all four names) shows lots of conjunctions, but also enough oppositions and squares to make life for The Beatles very interesting and challenging. 

What astrologers might find particularly interesting is what appears in the second house of money and assets. Uranus, the planet of the unexpected, aligns nicely with all four musicians. Any astrologer looking at this combined chart could see, in retrospect, why The Beatles saw an unexpected rise to fame. 

Also, the sign Leo, a common sign for entertainers, shows in the fourth house of home and family. These four felt at home with each other in the early years when their stars shone brightly.

So the question is, could The Beatles success be duplicated in our lifetimes? Never say never.


Photo of the Beatles is from wikimedia commons.

The four natal (birth) charts of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

The combined chart shows (from inner circle outwards) the charts of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison. A combination chart always starts with the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Touched By a Ghost

(previously published in September, 2010 on a site that no longer exists)

Dennis sat in my driveway after he dropped off his cousin, Marilyn. Our eyes met, and I could tell instantly that he was as attracted to me as I was to him. But our situations were complicated. We were both separated but still legally married and we each had a child.

I had met Marilyn when I joined the same company where she and her best friend Jeannie worked. We all became friends and every day the three of us took breaks and lunches together. When Marilyn told me the day after Dennis dropped her off that he wanted to know if I would go out with him, I told her that absolutely I would.

I was living with my parents at the time, and though Dennis and I dated for a couple of months, my parents were upset that every time he came to pick me up, he brought along his entourage of motorcycle buddies. She refused to babysit anymore if I continued to see him.

When Dennis called the day my mother refused to babysit any longer, I told him to spend time with his daughter, and I would work something out for the weekend.

The next morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling, but I went to work anyway. Marilyn hadn't shown up for work that day, but Jeannie was there and I told her that I had a bad feeling about something. I couldn't eat and I couldn't get rid of the feeling that something was terribly wrong with somebody I deeply cared about.

The first phone call I made was to my babysitter to find out if my daughter was OK. She was fine. I then called my mother, my sisters, and even my friends. It didn't occur to me to call Dennis, because we hadn't really been dating that long. 

Despite the fact that everybody I called was fine, I couldn't shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong somewhere. As the morning passed into the afternoon and I still couldn't eat, I told Jeannie I was really worried.

After watching me suffer all morning from worry, Jeannie finally pulled me aside to tell me the reason Marilyn wasn't at work that day – Dennis might have been killed in a motorcycle accident the night before, the night I was supposed to be with him. The rumor was that he had been hit by a Pepsi truck and that his head had been severed from his body.

Instantly I knew that the reason for my feeling of dread was because the rumor was true. Dennis had died. I asked Marilyn to verify the information for me, because I was shaking and crying too much to talk to anybody on the phone. 

When I made it home, still in tears, my mother reminded me of how lucky I was that she had refused to watch my daughter for me. The thought that I too might have died hadn't entered my mind.

That night, as I rolled over in bed, still crying, still thinking about Dennis and about how sad it was for his daughter to have lost such a loving dad, I attempted to fall asleep.

But whispers in my ear prevented that from happening. I immediately jumped out of bed and turned on the overhead light, my heart pounding inside my chest. 

I had been studying Harold Sherman's, How to Make ESP Work For You, and I had been implementing his strategies. His methods were working and I amused and amazed my friends at work with my predictions. But now that I "heard" whispering from the other side, I wasn't so sure I wanted to develop my ESP any further. I was, in a word, frightened by my ability.

The next night, thinking the whispering was a fluke, I turned off the light and sat on the bed. Out of somewhere I felt a hand touch my shoulder and I immediately leaped out of bed to turn the light back on.

Terrified, I acknowledged that maybe I didn't really want to learn ESP after all and that I couldn't handle ghostly encounters.

I've heard it said that when people die from traumatic events (in this case, a head severed from a body), their spirits remain earthbound for a time while they adjust to the fact that they're dead. 

To this day nobody will convince me that it wasn't Dennis saying a final goodbye.