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Brad and Sherry Steiger

Please Visit his Official Web Site ~ edwardshanahan.com

Conscious Channeler Edward Shanahan







Supernatural Dangers of Paranormal Investigations
and Other “Ghost Hunting” Activities

“Ignorant psychic experimentation may prove injurious when dabbled in by those who neglect the necessary precautions and lack understanding of the laws which govern the subject, just as ignorance and disregard of the laws governing everyday life may prove dangerous.”

Dr. Carl A. Wickland, 1924


Scenario:  As a paranormal investigator you have been called to the scene of a probable haunting.  If the source of the problem involves any negative occurrences, it is essential that you learn as much as you can about the activities of the people for whom you are about to place yourself at serious risk.  This statement implies that paranormal investigation and other “ghost hunting” activities as practiced today can be dangerous.  Actually, I state this unequivocally.  These activities can be extremely dangerous not only to you and other investigators or researchers but also to your family and every aspect of your daily life. 

In many, many instances the activities of the people involved in the haunting have a profound influence upon the circumstances.  But equally as important are the activities and experiences of people who have dwelled in the location prior to the current occupants.  Similarly, in situations where the haunting location is outdoors – a cemetery comes to mind – it is vital to learn as much as possible about what may or may not have gone on at these locations before commencing any type of investigation.

Certain activities, especially those of an occult nature, and most especially if these activities have been undertaken by anyone other than an adept, will leave residual traces that can exacerbate any supernatural occurrences in the location, sometimes for years to come.  Occult practices, even those of the most amateur kind, resonate in the etheric fabric of the unseen world long after the work has been abandoned or the people who practice them are gone.   Because of this, one of the most important preparations paranormal investigators can undertake is an assessment of the supernatural dangers that are attendant to all haunting, large and small.  Care must be taken to ascertain at the outset whether any of the following are present or have been present at the location involved.


A history of IGNORANT PSYCHIC EXPERIMENTATION can pose a definite threat to the novice or unprepared.  Activities such as experiments with the Ouija board and automatic writing; use of divination tools such as tarot cards or pendulums; indulging in activities such as those seen on TV, i.e. attempts at communication of any sort and/or provoking all send a charge into the etheric atmosphere of a place that literally acts as a beacon, sending out vibrations into the spiritual realm.

Conversely, it is often found to be the case that a suspicion of paranormal activity in a location will lead the residents there to act on their curiosity and undertake perfunctory “ghost hunts” of their own.  Invariably, this only complicates the situation and makes the job of the genuine investigators even harder.  In other words, some people just stir up the activity and make it bad enough where only a real paranormal team can diagnose the problem.

Enough cannot be said in warning against the use of the OUIJA BOARD.  Now, probably some of you will say, “So what? I’ve used it and nothing happened!”  Well, you’ve probably often gone fishing, too, and come back with no catch.  I often compare use of the Ouija board, and to a lesser degree the practice of automatic writing, to deep sea fishing, especially trolling.  Think about it:  You go out there, maybe you’re baiting your line for lemon fish or amberjack, but you also put out the trolling lines that go deep into the water and drift as the boat slowly moves along.  So who knows?  While you’re trying to hook your fish, your troll lines are floating down there, liable to get hit by anything – maybe a sea bass or a tarpon, and just maybe, possibly, a shark or a sea monster!

This is Ouija board in a nutshell, especially when ignorant playing and using it without a specific purpose are involved.  Only instead of trolling in water the users are trolling in the lower etheric regions that lie adjacent to the material world.  This is outlaw territory where all manner of spirits and entities linger near the earth sphere, drawn by the magnetic aura of the living.  Yes, you may be trying to contact Uncle Joe, and you may actually get hold of Uncle Joe.  More likely, however, you will get an evil-minded human discarnate with its own bevy of elemental attachments and it will lie to you, pretending to be your Uncle Joe or another familiar entity to fulfill its own nefarious purposes.

The same dangers exist in random attempts by novices or the untrained to contact what are presumed to be ghosts in an allegedly haunted environment.  With the popularity of television ghost hunting shows, practically anyone who has even a passing interest in the paranormal can describe how to obtain EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena.  As long ago as the early 1970’s, when Hans Holzer was still making the lecture circuit, I came home from school one day to find my own mother sitting in a silent house with a cassette recorder trying to capture spirit voices.  So, obviously anyone can do it, and in the current environment, with the paranormal such a hot commodity, almost everyone IS doing it.  As an investigator it is important for you to know if anyone in the location has been up to this sort of activity because EVP can act as a strong magnetic conduit to the lower etheric.  Random conversing with the spirit realm by untrained individuals has led to everything from basic hauntings and poltergeist activity to obsession and full-blown possession by discarnate entities.


No greater dangers can lay in wait for the paranormal investigator than the remnants and residual effects of OCCULT AND RITUAL MAGICAL PRACTICES that may have been performed at the location in question.  For example, say you are called in to investigate an exterior location where anomalous lights and sounds have been observed, like an abandoned tunnel or a derelict building.  On your initial walk-thru you observe evidence of magical activity – maybe a makeshift altar or an inverted pentagram drawn on a wall – in red – with drippings that look curiously like … blood.  It doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out that probably you should take into consideration the possibility that magic has been practiced in the location, then make your assessments and plan your activities accordingly. 

But what if you’re called to someone’s home by reports of shadowy apparitions and eerie sounds and you arrive to find a heavy negative feeling in the clammy atmosphere?  You would be correct to suspect that something negative is at work, but in this case there won’t be a bloody altar or painted pentacle as a giveaway.  What then?  Sure, you may cast a suspicious gaze or two in the direction of the family’s gloomy 14 year old son, but odds are he’s not going to outright confess that he’s been in the closet with Crowley’s “Goetia” or the “Heptemaron.” In many such cases no one involved may fit your expectations of what a person involved with occult works might look like; this is why you should discard any preconceptions when assessing a possibly supernatural situation.   You are going to have to use a tremendous amount of discernment, particularly in the interview process, where, guaranteed, the neophyte magician will speak volumes by what he’s NOT saying.  This is why a thorough prep process is essential to any investigation.


Used by the inept, the untrained, or the emotionally unstable, magic of any kind is extremely dangerous.  Whether the work done was the equivalent of a dud firecracker on the etheric plane or the successful full physical manifestation of a bonafide demon (in which case, get the hell out NOW), magical practice forms a potent link between the person(s) doing the work and the LOCATION used for the magical workings.  But magic, even the seemingly innocuous, can also entrap other people who may live there as innocent bystanders.  It is up to you to determine what kind of magic has been practiced at any given location; this is just as important as identifying, at least to your confidential satisfaction, who the practitioner may be.  There are many forms of magical workings and some that should never be allowed into the hands of neophytes or amateurs.

EVOCATION TO PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION, the conjuring of demons into physical forms (unfortunately a very popular form of magic among adolescents, teenage boys, and other rebellious youth) will ALWAYS leave residual remnants in the environment where the work has been performed.  Whether the magic has been performed by a master or an amateur, the very process of evocation can pollute the atmosphere of a place for months or, in some instances even years afterward.  These residual traces will then attract other denizens of the etheric realm such as spirit larvae – the feeders that are so often mistaken for orbs in photographs and that many believe are the building blocks of elementals and shadow people – and discarnate human entities, the kind that pose the greatest danger to unsuspecting clients and investigators, and often even a very perturbed Demon who shows up wondering what all the etheric fuss was about.

Unlike other spirits and entities that have never had human or material form, human discarnates are familiar with the physical world because they once existed here.  Most human discarnates pass into the ether and through the death process easily.  Many, many others, however, either do not know they have passed on and linger in confusion or ignorance, or are fully aware that they have passed on and absolutely hate it, refusing to move any further, trapped in the earth sphere by their old desires, habits, beliefs, addictions, and needs.  Some of these spirits, evil in life, will continue in this manner after death and will do everything they can to continue their evil ways by influencing the living.  These human discarnates are often responsible for a large share of intelligent hauntings.

During an investigation the danger of ATTACHMENT by discarnate humans present in the haunted environment cannot be overemphasized.  There are many volumes of recorded instances where discarnates have abandoned the original location and followed investigators home, wreaking havoc in the new environment or possibly obsessing or even possessing individuals there.

You must be especially cognizant of these dangers in two instances, (1) when previous investigations have taken place at the location with limited or no success, or with negative results for the previous team, and (2) when prayers, exorcisms, or ritual banishings in the haunted location have failed to provide relief. 


Many lesser demons actually will respond to even minimal attempts at exorcisms or banishing rituals because by their very nature they are averse to anything good or holy or having to do with the opposite (or positive) aspect of their own beings.  Sometimes these lesser demons can be driven away and will stay away because the atmosphere has been made less friendly to them, although in most cases the efficacy of this positive affect only lasts for a short time.  In the case of human discarnates, however, the usual cleansing and banishing practices will have little to no effect on the entity or the haunting activities.  This is because the inherent “humanity” present in the human discarnates in question will see these tactics as what they are, part and parcel of the material world it has departed and easily ignored.  In many cases, the human discarnate at the root of the haunting will not be moved by anything except conversation (usually through a trance medium) in which its true state is made known to it; in this way it can also be encouraged to move on.  It is important to note that these efforts will work best in situations when the entity is harmless or confused.  At times when the haunting entity is evil or causing frightening phenomena and dangers to the people involved, participation from those very haunted people in the removal process is essential to overall success.  Sometimes, just being made aware of the presence of a haunting or obsessing entity is a huge step for some individuals; but the process is arduous.  This is why John Zaffis has stated he would rather deal with a demon than an attached human discarnate or walk-in!

In homes or environments where a tremendous amount of negativity has piled up over a long period of time or as a result of recent fallout from a breakup, divorce, grief, depression or similar situation, you will find entities that specifically thrive on the negativity.  These entities can pose a serious threat to people living or working in this environment, and also to you as your investigation brings you into contact with them.  This is why, although it seems immodest, it is important to ask questions in the interview process that will shed some light on the family or couple dynamics going on in a particular place.  It is also wise, when dealing with family homes that have housed generations, to make inquiries into the relationships of previous individuals who may have inhabited the location.

The first of the negative entities you must be on the alert for has already been mentioned briefly and they are SPIRIT LARVAE.  Spirit larvae are the little “disposal bugs” of the etheric plane.  They can be found anywhere there is a dissipation of etheric energy into the atmosphere.  Larvae are very common in hospitals and nursing homes where sickness and the fading life force can provide a feast of etheric energy for them to feed on.  But larvae are also common in environments charged with the negative energy expelled during arguments, domestic violence, or cluttered environments such as those found in urban areas, and also where any type of decomposition can be found, especially in cemeteries.  Larvae will appear in photographs generally as misshapen or blob-like orbs, and have even been seen with the naked eye in some environments.  Larvae are generally mindless, but whether they remain that way has been debated, and regardless, their presence serves to attract other entities which is why they should be cleared from a location as soon as you are aware of them.

I personally subscribe to the growing belief that the strongest spirit larvae are capable of evolving, especially in situations of prolonged exposure to a sustained negative energy source, into ELEMENTALS – or entities of base and unbalanced powers.  These entities can be very unnerving to deal with as they are a coalescence of raw energy, lacking an intelligence, and reactive to any stimuli in the environment.  Elemental energy has been associated with poltergeist activity, power surges and interruptions, and other fluctuations in the kinetic energy of the environment.  Although elementals will not possess or obsess, they are sensitive to the magnetic energy of the individuals present and will respond according to that person’s moods. 

Elementals can also be the result of magical workings, and multiple elementals can, and have, been drawn together by the more powerful among them into a single, purposeful being, the very frightening SHADOW ENTITY

This is the point when the base elemental energy has advanced enough to take on shape and form, usually human or humanlike.  Although some schools of thought describe shadow entities as the mindless products of elementals attempting to mimic human beings,  in many instances shadow entities have demonstrated the ability to develop a disturbing intelligence and “personality” all their own.  More troubling still, many of these shadow beings often display an agenda all their own, too.  When encountered, shadow entities are always a source of abject fright, possibly because of the mass of negativity that has animated it.  Shadow entities can and have been known to threaten and even harm humans in some situations, and they are famous for following people home from investigations.

Generally speaking, the presence of any one of these types of entities in an environment will more than likely, over time, attract the attention of other, more intelligent and mischief-minded entities – the LOWER DEMONICS.

Now when I say “lower demonic” I mean specifically “very devolved and very malevolent human discarnates.”  These entities have successfully avoided the passage through the death process and ignored or escaped the intervention of other, more highly developed spirit intelligences for so long that they no longer have any memory of their human lives or their spirit personality.  There is a saying, “Death does not make a saint of a sinner,” and this couldn’t be more true than in the case of these devolved human discarnates.  We are, at any given time, surrounded by the thought influence, manifested in spirit form, of millions of discarnate human beings.  Just as in life, not everyone means us well.  The same applies after death.

The Jewish historian Josephus said that, “Demons are the spirits of wicked men,” and the Roman Minucius wrote, “There are some insincere spirits, degraded from their heavenly vigor, who cease not, now that they are ruined themselves, to ruin others.”  In the early 20th century Wickland wrote, “These earthbound spirits are the supposed devils of all ages, devils of human origin, by-products of human selfishness, false teachings, and ignorance, thrust blindly into a spirit existence.”

These spirits impart upon susceptible humans their own emotions and addictions, their own fears and evil inclinations.  They can cause all manner of mental illnesses, physical illnesses, depraved habits, obsessions, compulsions, and depressions, and can inspire their victims to commit suicide or bring about their death through other means.  So divorced are these entities from their former humanity that they have become, in essence, pure evil.  And they are everywhere.

These discarnates pose the greatest threat to novices in the paranormal field, as well as to those with neurotic tendencies (expressed or latent), and to trained individuals who have allowed their ego to take control or have become arrogant and conceited in one way or another.  Skeptics, too, are an easy target for these types of discarnates.  In fact, the more hardcore the skeptic, the more susceptible he or she is to attachment or oppression since spirit interference will be the last thing suspected when problems begin to appear.

These devolved spirits are themselves preyed upon by higher intelligences of evil intent that compel them to all sorts of malevolent and evil acts against humanity.  It must be remembered that the analogy of “outlaw country” whenever we thing of the etheric regions close to the Earth sphere; in it all sorts of spirits are hiding, deliberately avoiding the light of the higher planes, focused intently on the magnetic aura, energy exchanges, and other activities of the living in the physical world.  In that region the rules of the physical world no longer apply and the entities existing there can affect the living in supernatural ways that will defy categorization in the material world.

Which brings us to what I like to call the “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, LEAVE TOWN, AND CHANGE YOUR RELIGION” DEMONS.

Without going into extensive detail about the origins and natures of genuine Demons, or what I commonly call the Lords of Imbalance and a subject I cover at length elsewhere, suffice to say that, despite popular opinion, genuine Demons are usually NOT the source of hauntings, obsessions, possessions, and other malevolent activity commonly found in investigative situations and blamed on them.  What we have already covered about larvae, human discarnates, elementals, etc., should be enough to prove this.  On the other hand, however, if in your work in this field you ever encounter a genuine Demon of the magnitude to which I now refer two things should become immediately obvious to you:  (1) This is like nothing you have ever encountered before, and (2) you are in extreme danger and should GET THE HELL OUT!

We’re not talking any longer about some angry, pissed off discarnate human or even lower demonics in their own objective reality.  We are talking about powerful hypercosmic beings of inestimable supernatural strength that have no comparison to anything else in the supernatural realm (with the exception perhaps of angelic beings), that have no business whatsoever on the physical plane, and that hold mankind in complete contempt. 


So, how do the Lords of Imbalance get here and how might you encounter them?

Demons of this magnitude appear in the physical as a result of the practice of ceremonial and ritual magic – most especially the arts of necromancy and evocation to physical manifestation.  Ritual magicians who can practice these arts successfully are actually few and far between.  Unfortunately this has never kept other, less qualified individuals from attempting these dangerous operations.  In fact, evoking demons – or I should say attempting to evoke demons - is one of the most popular forms of magic indulged in by adolescents, some of whom are not even old enough to drive or buy alcohol.

Even when performed successfully, the act of evocation to physical manifestation takes a toll on both the magician and the Demon because it is the act of forcing a being of the astral plane to take on physical form in the material plane.  It can endanger the health of the practitioner – the preparation alone is Draconian – but also it is a torment to the Demonic entity who must pass through untold misery to manifest a physical form and maintain it through the magician’s ritual, the delivery of the Command or the purpose that is the intent of the magician (and often this is something selfish that could have been obtained through other means or, worse, just for the sake of “fun”), and the release of the License to Depart.

To say that the Demon is not pleased in these situations and that there can be, and very often have been, serious consequences to these activities is a dramatic understatement.  And when we take into consideration that an awful lot of this type of magic goes drastically wrong, either by virtue of omission by the practiced magician or stupid experimentation by the untrained amateur, then the existence of dangerous aftershocks in the environment are a given.  Even successful magicians who regularly perform such work will, when the evocation ritual goes wrong or has to be aborted, seal up the place of working and completely avoid it for a period of not less than 30 days – typically a cycle of the moon – or even more, depending on the nature of the failure.  The danger of fallout is that severe.  And when the practitioner finally does enter the place of working again, it will be subjected to extreme ritual banishings and cleansing before it can again be useful.

Do you think for one minute our suburban, neophyte magical stupids will take the time to do any of this?  To them, a ritual simply didn’t work and “nothing” happened.  Nothing, that is, until their lives go to hell, they begin to feel the oppressive supernatural evil in their environment, and begin to notice unusual occurrences with varying degrees of, usually escalating, danger to those involved.  At this point, they will probably call you, the paranormal investigator.

The moral:  No ritual magical working in the realm of the Demonic ever ends innocently.  Either the result is obtained in a controlled environment by an adept magical practitioner, or, and sadly more often, the ritual implodes and the effects – though not immediately evident - will permeate the environment and pose a danger to anyone entering.  As an investigator, if you wander into such a situation you are opening yourself up to dangers so far removed from what passes as reality that only someone else who has experienced it will believe you if these things happen to you.

No matter how trained you think you are, you are not prepared to deal with these beings.  In fact, I can tell you plainly that no priest of any faith will be capable of even making a dent in beings of this sort – and I’m a Roman Catholic.  Possibly, and I say this with caution, possibly a very enlightened shaman will be of some use, but by far and away the only person qualified to deal with a Demonic haunting of this nature will be an adept practitioner of ritual magic who can identify the Demons in question and probably the type of working that summoned it, and who will also be able to perform the necessary rituals to bind the Demon and command it with a License to Depart.  Remember this, if you are ever confronted with this situation.

This is one good reason why PROVOKING SPIRITS is something that should be avoided. 

As obviously most of you know, provoking is the new “flavor du jour” in the paranormal field.  Some investigators think provocation gets entities stirred up and makes them respond out of anger and frustration producing better evidence in the form of clear, even audible EVPS or manifestations on camera or in the environment.  Provoking is very often practiced in places where there is a history of violence, anger, or suffering such as abandoned prisons, mental institutions, and orphanages, or in places where haunting is suspected by a particular entity that may have been unsavory or downright dangerous in life.

Some groups argue against provoking because they claim it is disrespectful to the spirits in a given place.  After all, they say, these were once human beings, often found in the places where they once lived, and they should be treated with respect.  And I agree with that.  However, the vast majority of cases that require investigation usually involve dangerous or extreme elements and this should be the tip-off that the entities you are dealing with can be dangerous – even if it is old Uncle Joe, he’s not happy NOW!  Worse still, if you find yourself in an environment where ANY kind of magic has been attempted or worked, provoking is, in my mind, like smearing yourself with blood and taking a walk among wolves in the wintertime.  The words puny, stupid human readily come to mind.

CEMETERIES ARE DANGEROUS.  It always annoys me to hear people planning investigative excursions to cemeteries and describing this as “not dangerous” or “harmless” and even “fun.”   This erroneous assumption is based, I suppose, on the obvious fact that cemeteries are full of dead people and there is some reasonable certainty that you’re not walking into a revival of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.  But in fact, cemeteries are one of the most supernaturally dangerous places you can be. 


Leaving aside the obvious physical dangers in the environment such as open graves, subsiding headstones and tree roots, the propensity cemeteries have of attracting people with criminal intent on their mind, the other dangers you may encounter in a cemetery might surprise you.  The least of these is the ghost of a dead human being.

Western magical tradition holds a place for the common graveyard specter, and these are the ghosts most investigators are usually looking for – the ghosts of departed people.  Investigators often will present photographic evidence and EVP evidence to support their contention that they are communicating with the dead.  Truth is, however, unless the investigation is taking place in a cemetery or burying ground that is actively receiving burials on a regular basis, and in an area among the most recent of these burials (recent in this case meaning anywhere from 6 months to 1 year),  very likely any evidence obtained is NOT of the recently dead.

It is a commonly-held belief that the spirits of the newly dead will sometimes linger close to the physical plane.  Whatever might be holding them here – unfinished business, reluctance to accept their state – these spirits will generally be moving between places familiar to them in life and their burial location, until finally they come to an understanding of their situation and follow more evolved spirits through the final stages of the death process.  The length of time varies, but again, if you want to talk to old Uncle Joe, you had better do it quickly because as time passes the window of opportunity grows smaller and smaller until it becomes non-existent.  After this, communication with Uncle Joe will be initiated by him, from the astral, when or if the need occurs.

So, whose voices are on those cemetery EVPs every ghost hunter worth his or her salt has collected?

Discarnate humans who, as described previously, were evil in life are not generally improved by death and their evil ways continue to persist in the etheric regions.  They can be resentful of their state, fearful of the consequences taught by dogma about the states of heaven and hell, they may have practiced ritual magic in life and deliberately evade the death process, or frankly, they might be just too damned mean to die!  Whatever their state, they are trapped in the condition between the death passages and there they are victims of their own preconceptions and beliefs, as well as prey to higher developed, ill-intentioned entities out there with them.  
Devolved human discarnates, naturally-occurring elementals, and some lower demonics abound in cemeteries for a number of reasons but primarily because it is a source of the type of energy upon which they like to feed.  Cemeteries are rife with spirit larvae because the feeding is good.  Decomposition of flesh and growing things like flowers, and the emotions of grief and sadness are food sources to larvae and other lower entities, and where the feeding is good, others will be attracted.

In addition, there are other dangerous spirits and phantoms that frequent cemeteries because they have been invited there or conjured by humans.  With regard to these more dangerous beings, let me just share with you the following – and this gives you an idea of what can go on in cemeteries when only the dead and the phantoms are awake.

The following ritual, called the TOAD RITE, originates in Old Style European magic.  It is still practiced today by magical adepts and practitioners of the Left Hand or Luciferian Path, but also – partly because it has been disseminated through books and publications on the Internet – it is practiced by stupid, angst-ridden, rebellious suburban youths to whom magic and cemeteries – and “ghost hunting” – is “cool.”  It is a cruel rite, no doubt, and in American hoodoo traditions a black cat is often substituted for the toad.

The Toad Rite is a working which, when done correctly, guides the practitioner into the “in between land” or, more specifically, the lower etheric regions.  It is not the TOAD that is the center of the working, but the spirits which are summoned by the focus and will of the practitioner.  The rite is sacred to the Goddess Hecate Trevia, or Hecate of the Triple Crossroads, and is performed over three nights when the astrological and planetary auspices are correct.  The Rite is one of the most dangerous to the mind of the practitioner and should not be attempted by novices, as such, only an overview relevant to our subject will be provided here. 

After the initial part of the ritual – the appearance of the toad and its ritual preparation – the practitioner must seek out a lonely, haunted place to complete the process.  A cemetery is preferred BECAUSE IT IS AN ACTIVE LOCATION OF THE PHANTOMS OF THE NIGHT. Over three nights the practitioner will complete the remaining rituals in the cemetery and phantoms, drawn by the ritual activity, will appear on each night and through various means will attempt to take the ritual Toad Bone.  The sorcerer is admonished NOT to relinquish the bone at any cost.  To do so is madness.

The sorcerer is also encouraged in the ritual to find a sunken grave and sleep in it where overnight a female corpse of green and grey flesh (literally a ghoul) will seek him out for sexual intercourse.  Despite the rank smell of decomposing flesh, which with enough mental preparation can be overcome, the sorcerer is encouraged to copulate with this phantom and “she will use the emissions . . . to BREED DEMONS and GIVE STRENGTH TO THE SHADES OF THAT PLACE.”  The practitioner must, at all costs, keep this most awful phantom from stealing the bone.

The rite produces a supercharged ethereal double of the practitioner – an animated spirit elemental – that moves about on the spirit plane doing the will of the practitioner and assisting him in further magical works.  The practitioner gains this, but loses much as, in the classic Faustian bargain, his success with the Toad Rite will guarantee him a violent death at an unforeseen time in unlooked for circumstances.  Not worth it, right?

Although having to learn about these types of rituals may be offensive or troubling to some, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for the paranormal investigator to be aware that activities of this and other sorts can, and regularly DO, go on in cemeteries.  For this reason, there is no such thing as a “harmless” cemetery.  Further, knowledge about these forms of magic also provides the investigator with insight into the types of entities, phantoms, and yes, ghouls, that can inhabit these places.

The residue from these workings – again, whether performed correctly or by a novice – will POLLUTE the location for a very long time.  Remember:  IF A CEMETERY IS NOTORIOUS OR INFAMOUS THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR IT!  This fact guarantees that as a place of successful magic it is well known among those who need to know such things and means that it has probably been frequented by many sorts of practitioners, from traditional magic and witchcraft to Santeria and hoodoo.

The paranormal community is larger and more active, and more informed, than at any other time since it appeared at the forefront of the common zeitgeist in the 1960’s.  This current trend is thanks in no small part to the popularity of ghost hunting and other paranormal-themed TV shows permeating the airwaves in such large numbers these days.  The growth in the number of active, self-styled “ghost hunting” groups across the US, and indeed the world, has exposed people of all ages to the burgeoning new incarnation of the paranormal as entertainment.  What is often lost, however, even among seasoned “professionals” in the investigative field, is that working in the realm of the paranormal is not a harmless indulgence, nor is it really a hobby, as so many people like to declaim.

There are very real dangers involved in seeking out the unknown and trying to explain the unexplained.  Far too often, in the current “para-tainment” environment, this sobering fact is overlooked, to the detriment of all involved.

I have described only some of the supernatural dangers that can impact investigators and nascent hobbyists who don’t take working in the paranormal field as seriously as it should be taken.  There are many more, and many dangers yet to be discovered or devised by the community existing, waiting to be explored completely, on the other side.

Be wary, be safe, and always err on the side of caution.  Your life and spirit, and the lives and spirits of those around you, could be at stake! 


Folklorist and occultist Alyne Pustanio is a New Orleans whose roots go deep into the local culture; it is from that proverbial “gumbo” that she draws her inspiration for most of her tales of terror and fascination.


A descendant of Portuguese and Sicilian immigrant families who trace their ancestry to European Gypsies, Alyne was exposed to the mysteries of the occult at an early age.  Two great-grandmothers were gifted and sought out mediums and another relative is a verified psychic, however, Alyne credits her mother – an avid spiritualist – with inspiring her lifelong interest in the supernatural and unexplained.  When still a schoolgirl, Alyne accompanied her mother to spiritualist meetings and panels where she met some of the early paranormal greats such as Hans Holzer, Ed and Lorraine Warren, and Jeanne Dixon.

First-hand experiences with the world of the unseen (she has lived in haunted houses and around haunted people all her life) and her own intuitive nature caused her fascination with the paranormal to grow, and for more than half her life she has been a student of the occult.  These interests, combined with her avocations in folklore and history, result in a validity and passion that is immediately obvious in all her writings.  Some of her most colorful pieces, “The Zombie Child of New Orleans” among them, owe much to the rich supernatural heritage that steeps New Orleans; others, such as her essay on “Psychic Vampires” published in Doorways Magazine, are the product of harrowing real-life experiences.  Essays such as her “Defense of Demons” are breaking new ground in the realm of paranormal investigation, changing pre-set notions and concepts about the real dangers of the supernatural realm.

Alyne has used her extensive knowledge of the occult, in particular the traditions of Western Ritual Magic, in her work as an Occult Analyst and Case Manager for groups such as Louisiana State Paranormal Research (LSPR) Society, Seekers of Unexplained Louisiana (SOUL), and New Orleans Paranormal and Occult Research Society (NOPORS).  She is also frequently called upon by individuals across the United States, victims of attacks from the realm of the unseen, for information and guidance in cases of extreme hauntings or suspected demonic activity.  In addition, Alyne coordinates the Paranormal and Unexplained track for Babel Con, a popular multi-genre convention held annually in Baton Rouge, LA; she also lectures on the paranormal and occult at Babel Con and other conventions in the South.

When she is not writing, developing material, or investigating, Alyne enjoys participating in Renaissance festivals and medieval faires throughout the South; she is the founder of her own tribe of Gypsies, “The Vitsa Hokano Baro,” which she describes as her own “living experiential discovery” of her Gyspy heritage.  A November child, she loves dark, brooding, grey days, cold weather and thunderstorms; anything to do with the British Isles, the American Civil War and New York City; reads the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Christina Rosetti, and Tolkien, admires Milton, Blake and Machiavelli, and is a student of modern occult writers John Michael Greer, Michael Ford, and Dr. Joseph Liewsienski.  Her favorite holiday is Halloween, her favorite color is black and she lives in New Orleans with her teenage daughter, two dogs and several cats.


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Bardo Thodol ("Tibetan Book of the Dead")

"Tibetan Book of the Dead"

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The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State (Tibetan: bardo "liminality"; thodol as "liberation", sometimes translated as Liberation Through Hearing or Bardo Thodol is a funerary text. It is often referred to in the West by the more casual title, "Tibetan Book of the Dead", a name which draws a parallel with the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, another funerary text.

The first complete translation of the classic Buddhist text

One of the greatest works created by any culture and overwhelmingly the most significant of all Tibetan Buddhist texts in the West, The Tibetan Book of the Dead has had a number of distinguished but partial translations. Now the entire text has not only been made available in English but also in a translation of remarkable clarity and beauty. Translated with the close support of leading contemporary masters, this complete edition faithfully presents the insights and intentions of the original work. It includes one of the most detailed and compelling descriptions of the after-death state in world literature, practices that can transform our experience of daily life, guidance on helping those who are dying, and an inspirational perspective on coping with bereavement.

According to Tibetan tradition, the Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State was composed by Padmasambhava, written down by his primary student, Yeshe Tsogyal, buried in the Gampo hills in central Tibet and subsequently discovered by a Tibetan terton, Karma Lingpa.

The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State is recited by Tibetan Buddhist lamas over a dying or recently deceased person, or sometimes over an effigy of the deceased. The name means literally "liberation through hearing in the intermediate state".

The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State differentiates the intermediate state between lives into three bardos:

The chikhai bardo or "bardo of the moment of death", which features the experience of the "clear light of reality", or at least the nearest approximation of which one is spiritually capable.

The chonyid bardo or "bardo of the experiencing of reality", which features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms (or, again, the nearest approximations of which one is capable).

The sidpa bardo or "bardo of rebirth", which features karmically impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth. (Typically imagery of men and women passionately entwined.)

The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State also mentions three other bardos: those of "life" (or ordinary waking consciousness), of "dhyana" (meditation), and of "dream" (the dream state during normal sleep).

Together these "six bardos" form a classification of states of consciousness into six broad types. Any state of consciousness can form a type of "intermediate state", intermediate between other states of consciousness. Indeed, one can consider any momentary state of consciousness a bardo, since it lies between our past and future existences; it provides us with the opportunity to experience reality, which is always present but obscured by the projections and confusions that are due to our previous unskillful actions.


Death is an important part of the process of natural selection. Organisms that are less adapted to their current environment than others are more likely to die having produced fewer offspring, reducing their contribution to the gene pool of succeeding generations. Their genes are thus eventually bred out of a population, leading to processes such as speciation and extinction. It should be noted however that reproduction plays an equally important role in determining survival. For example, an organism that dies young but leaves many offspring will have a much greater Darwinian fitness than a long-lived organism which leaves only one.


Extinction is the cessation of existence of a species or group of taxa, reducing biodiversity. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species (although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point). Because a species' potential range may be very large, determining this moment is difficult, and is usually done retrospectively. This difficulty leads to phenomena such as Lazarus taxa, where a species presumed extinct abruptly "reappears" (typically in the fossil record) after a period of apparent absence. Through evolutional theory, new species arise through the process of speciation — where new varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche — and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition.

After death the remains of an organism become part of the biogeochemical cycle. Animals may be consumed by a predator or a scavenger. Organic material may then be further decomposed by detritivores, organisms which recycle detritus, returning it to the environment for reuse in the food chain. Examples of detritivores include earthworms, woodlice and dung beetles.


Microorganisms also play a vital role, raising the temperature of the decomposing matter as they break it down into yet simpler molecules. Not all material need be decomposed fully, however. Coal, a fossil fuel formed over vast tracts of time in swamp ecosystems, is one example.

Death and evolution

Enquiry into the evolution of aging aims to explain why almost all living things weaken and die with age (a notable exception being hydra, which may be biologically immortal). The evolutionary origin of senescence remains one of the fundamental puzzles of biology. Gerontology specializes in the science of human aging processes.


A death erection or terminal erectionis a post-mortem erection, technically a priapism, observed in the corpses of human males who have been executed, particularly by hanging.

Death as a sentient entity is a concept that has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, death is often given the name the "Grim Reaper" and from the 15th century onwards came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood.

In some cases, the Grim Reaper is able to actually cause the victim's death, leading to tales that he can be bribed, tricked, or outwitted in order to retain one's life. Other beliefs hold that the Spectre of Death is only a psychopomp, serving only to sever the last tie from the soul to the body and guide the deceased to the next world and having no control over the fact of their death.

In many languages Death is personified in male form (English including), while in others it is perceived as a female character (for instance, in Slavic languages, e.g. in Polish).

Scholars and the Angel of Death

Talmud teachers of the fourth century associate quite familiarly with him. When he appeared to one on the street, the teacher reproached him with rushing upon him as upon a beast; whereupon the angel called upon him at his house. To another he granted a respite of thirty days, that he might put his knowledge in order before entering the next world. To a third he had no access, because he could not interrupt the study of the Talmud. To a fourth he showed a rod of fire, whereby he is recognized as the angel of death (M. K. 28a). He often entered the house of Bibi and conversed with him (Ḥag. 4b). Often he resorts to strategy in order to interrupt and seize his victim (B. M. 86a; Mak. 10a).

The death of Joshua ben Levi in particular is surrounded with a web of fable. When the time came for him to die and the angel of death appeared to him, he demanded to be shown his place in paradise. When the angel had consented to this, he demanded the angel's knife, that the angel might not frighten him by the way. This request also was granted him, and Joshua sprang with the knife over the wall of paradise; the angel, who is not allowed to enter paradise, caught hold of the end of his garment. Joshua swore that he would not come out, and God declared that he should not leave paradise unless he was absolved from his oath; if not absolved, he was to remain. The angel of death then demanded back his knife, but Joshua refused. At this point a heavenly voice ("bat ḳol") rang out: "Give him back the knife, because the children of men have need of it" (Ket. 77b; Jellinek, l.c. ii. 48-51; Bacher, l.c. i. 192 et se

Many cultures have incorporated a god of death into their mythology or religion. As death, along with birth, is among the major parts of human life, these deities may often be one of the most important deities of a religion. In some religions with a single powerful deity as the source of worship, the death deity is an antagonistic deity against which the primary deity struggles. The related term death worship has most often been used as a derogatory term to accuse certain groups of morally-abhorrent practices which set no value on human life, or which seem to glorify death as something positive in itself.

List of death deities

* North America: Grimm Reaper (also known as death)
* Aztec: Mictlantecuhtli
* Babylonian: Ereshkigal, Nergal
* Brazil: Afro-Brazilian religions such as Umbanda and Candomblé worship Babalu Aye, god of disease and illness, who carries away the souls of the deceased.
* Buddhism: Yama
* Canaanite: Mot
* Celtic: Morrigan
* Chinese: Yanluo (transliteration of Yama)
* Ancient Egypt: Anubis and Osiris
* Finnish: Tuoni, his wife and children
* Greek: Thanatos and Hades
* Haitian Vodou: Ghede
* Hindu: Yama
* Igbo: Ogbunabali
* Islam: Azrael
* Japan: Enma (transliteration of Yama) (See Also: Shinigami)
* Maori: Hine-nui-te-pō
* Maya: Ah Puch
* Mexico: Santa Muerte
* Norse: Odin, Hel, and Freyja
* Roman: Mors, Pluto, Orcus, and Dis Pater
* Slavic: Morana



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