Clarissa Johal

Friday, October 19, 2018

Frightening Friday-The "Real-Life" Case Behind The Exorcist: Fact vs. Fiction

Photo courtesy of Michal via Flickr
There was a lot of conflicting information concerning the "real life" case and inspiration behind The Exorcist. The general (compiled) story goes something like this:

Roland Doe (a pseudonym) was born 1935 into a German Lutheran family. An only child, Roland depended upon adults in his household as playmates. It was his Aunt Harriet who introduced him to an Ouija board and it seems they used it on numerous occasions. When Roland was thirteen, she died of multiple sclerosis. Several reports suggest that Roland tried to contact her spirit with the Ouija board. Eleven days after her death, supernatural events began to occur--marching feet, strange noises, and household objects allegedly flew or levitated. After being placed near the boy, a container of holy water smashed to the ground and a picture of Jesus rattled on the wall, as if being hit from behind. When hearing of the numerous Ouija board sessions, the family became convinced that evil had possessed their 13-year-old son and consulted with Father Albert Hughes of St. James Catholic church for further assessment.

Roland was observed overnight and it was reported that in addition to scratching sounds on the wall, a pallet of blankets moved across the room and a heavy armchair tilted and tipped over on its own. The boy went home the next morning only to have the activity worsen. Scratches and sometimes words began to appear on his body, a kitchen table turned over, and objects flew around the room. At school, Roland's desk vibrated across the floor and he was sent home. Father Edward Albert Hughes decided to perform an exorcism. During the exorcism, it was alleged that the boy escaped from the restraints and broke off a bed spring from under the mattress, using it to slash the priest's arm from wrist to shoulder. As a result, the exorcism ritual was stopped. The incident reportedly had a traumatic effect on the priest and Father Hughes went into a long seclusion.

The family sought further help from Rev. Raymond J. Bishop and Rev. William S. Bowdern. The priests claim the boy had an aversion to anything sacred. Strange welts would appear on his body and he would speak in a guttural voice. They also claimed that objects flew around the room and the boy's bed would shake. Bowdern sought permission from the archbishop to perform an exorcism. His request was granted with the requirement that a detailed diary be kept. The exorcism was performed at the psychiatric ward of the Georgetown University Hospital. The priests stated that during the exorcism, words such as "evil" and "hell," along with other various marks, appeared on the boy's body. Outbursts, including cursing, spitting, urinating, vomiting and the use of Latin phrases, were also reported. The exorcism ritual was performed thirty times over several weeks. When the final exorcism was complete, witnesses reported loud noise going off throughout the hospital. Afterwards, the boy went on to lead a normal life.

That's the story you'll read on various sites concerning this case.

Author Mark Opsasnick tells a different story. In his meticulously researched article for Strange Magazine, Opsasnick states that "Roland Doe" was actually Rob Doe; a troubled teen growing up in an overly strict and religious household. Rob and his best friend would continually try and "outdo" each other when it came to pranks and other shenanigans. The best friend states that, "(Rob was) smothered by his obsessively religious mother and grandmother who held deep interests in spiritualism and Ouija Boards, shunned by his classmates at school, prone to tantrums and even violent outbursts towards his family and his few friends, and exhibiting cruel and at times even sadistic behavior towards other children and even animals." Mark Opsasnick's research uncovers that there was indeed an exorcism, though most of the activity reported in the "real life" case behind The Exorcist wasn't confirmed by any of the priests involved. Father Hughes was never attacked with a bed spring, nor did he experience a breakdown due to an attack. Father Halloran states the boy mimicked their Latin rather than spoke it fluently, and with no guttural changes in his voice. There was no vomiting or urinating, and the scratches were questionable. The list goes on.

If you're interested, I encourage you to check out Opsasnick's article. It's quite fascinating. What do you think? Was Rob Doe's behavior a result of demonic possession, or merely a troubled teen acting out? 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#FolkloreThursday - The Headless Nun #Canada #ghosts

Photo by Eric Huybrechts via Flickr
In the town of Miramichi, New Brunswick, an 18th century nun by the name of Sister Marie Inconnue (surname unknown) was murdered. One version of the tragedy recounts that Sister Marie was beheaded by a madman who hid her head in the woods. Another version states it was two sailors who committed the murder. According to that story, the sailors were looking for treasure and heard that Sister Marie had buried a stash of money to assist needy families. Regardless of who was responsible for the murder, Sister Marie was returned to France but her head was never found.

The headless ghost of Sister Marie is reputed to haunt the area, looking for her long lost head so that she may rest in peace. Late night travelers report they've been approached by the headless spirit. Other travelers have said that the ghost carries her head with her, imploring them to bury it with her body.

French Fort Cove, New Brunswick 
Public Domain photo 

Official records of Sister Marie's murder are difficult to track down. Was this a tragedy lending to a restless spirit or merely an urban legend? Join the Headless Nun Tour in French Fort Cove, New Brunswick and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#Paranormal Wednesday - #Ghost Hunting Equipment

I watch a lot of ghost hunting shows before bed because (oddly) I find them relaxing. I know, I know. My teens think it's a bit weird but c'est la vie, it chases them off to bed and I get the television to myself. There are many shows to choose from, both reruns and newer ones. I judge them with a critical eye because sometimes, I feel the entertainment factor outweighs a genuine goal to gather "evidence." That said, and on my watch list for different reasons; Dead Files (all ghosts are bad and freaky as f*&k), Ghost Adventures (all ghosts are demonic), Kindred Spirits (ghosts are probably people you knew and just trying to get your attention), and Tennessee Wraith Chasers (bring on the ghosts 'cause we have special equipment we made ourselves). I miss Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters; which were two of my favorites. The investigators were low-key with little drama, which would be my approach.

Most of these shows use equipment, save for Dead Files which uses a medium, and some of the equipment gets pretty darned complicated. Personally, if I was going "ghost hunting" the less equipment the better. I'm not technologically inclined and would probably break something.
However, if you're interested in the equipment side of ghost hunting, here's a rundown of the basics and not-so-basics. I won't try and explain the science behind these tools, simply because it's complex, debatable, and I'm not a scientist. I will, however, give my opinion because I've watched several different paranormal teams (in person and on television) use/misuse the same equipment with different results.
Ready? Here we go:

POV or General Camcorder: This camcorder is full spectrum and able to "see" in complete darkness. It is used to capture shadows and other disturbances when nobody is present in the room.
My opinion: Can't argue with visuals as long as the team is out of the field of vision and not polluting it in any way.

3D Mapping Camera or Kinect: This piece of equipment is used to give shape to a spirit’s energy, which shows as a visible stick figure on camera.
My opinion: I don't know enough about the specifics of how this works but it's fascinating to see a stick figure show up and respond to questions.

K2 - EMF Meter: Easy-to-use tool that detects spikes in electromagnetic energy. A normal room will register between 0mg and 1.5mg while a room said to be inhabited by ghosts will read between 1.5mg and 8mg.
My opinion:  If the room has other electrical disturbances (wiring issues or household appliances) these may cause the readings to be higher than normal.

EVP - Digital Voice Recorder: Generally used to record questions directed towards paranormal spirits. The recording is then played back in the hope that sounds the human ear was unable to detect were recorded.
My opinion: I've seen this used in a way where voices are clear as a bell. I've also heard random noises that in no way sound like words. Example: (Playback) "Pfft."  (Investigator) "Did you hear that? It growled and said, "I'm a demon!"" You get it.

Spirit Box: This tool is used for attempting communication with paranormal entities. It uses radio frequency sweeps to generate white noise which supposedly gives entities the energy they need to be heard. When this occurs, the user can hear sounds and voices coming through the static.
My opinion: I hate this piece of equipment. It's so noisy, plus I feel (in most cases) it picks up random radio words which can be interpreted any way that fits into the equation.

Thermal Imaging Camera:  A "point and shoot" tool used to record temperature changes in the environment. This tool enables the user to easily differentiate between hotspots (usually human) and cold spots (possible ghosts) in a room.
My opinion: Electrical and environmental factors would need to be monitored very carefully in order to rely on this piece of equipment.

REM Pod: Uses a mini telescopic antenna to radiate its own independent magnetic field around the instrument itself. Any shifts in temperature or electrical energy approaching these stationary pods will cause the LED lights to go on/off and an alarm.
My opinion: Probably my favorite instrument if I had to pick one. It seems to have consistent results--especially if the paranormal researcher utilizes it to ask questions.

Laser Grid: This high powered laser emits a grid of green dots useful for detecting shadows or visual disturbances. It is set in front of a running camera to catch potential evidence. Any solid object or mist will disturb the laser beams.
My opinion: Again, can't argue with visual evidence.

Boo Buddy: Used to communicate with child spirits. This piece of equipment, which looks like a teddy bear, asks questions in order to trigger a response. It detects changes in EMF, temperature, movement, and vibration and responds to those changes in a kid-friendly voice.
My opinion: As long as the paranormal team stays out of the bear's field, I see this as being a data gathering tool.

Ovilus: This piece of equipment converts environmental readings into words to enable communication with paranormal spirits.
My opinion: The words can either be spot-on regarding the questions asked, or interpreted way off-base, much like the EVP recorder and Spirit Box.

Overwhelmed? There are many more devices and the cost can sky-rocket. I don't endorse any of these (linked) products but wanted you to get an idea of the cost and what they looked like. If you're inclined to purchase, please do your research. If you use the instruments, please do your research on the proper way to do so. There are many investigative teams who gather solid evidence but just as many who seem to let their imaginations go wild.
Me? I'll rely on my sixth sense and the blessing of silence. I expect the ghosts will come to me and make their presence known, no equipment needed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tangled Tuesday - A Visit to the Clown Motel and Old Tonopah Cemetery by Stan Hampton, Sr.

Please welcome my guest author,  Stan Hampton, Sr.

A Visit to the Clown Motel and Old Tonopah Cemetery  
by Stan Hampton, Sr. 

And Then…

            The thing about things that go bump in the night is that they can go bump in the daylight too. And it doesn’t matter what the season is, though I suspect Halloween adds to the possibility.
            Recently I had a chance to go with the Nevada Camera Club of Las Vegas, of which I am a member, to photograph the International Car Forest of the Last Church just outside of Goldfield, Nevada. Because it was an overnight trip, my youngest son, his wife, the three grandchildren, and I decided we would stay in nearby Tonopah, Nevada. Both towns were boom mining towns from the early 20th century, and both, especially Tonopah, are noted for hauntings.

            The world famous Clown Motel—only happy clowns make up the some 600 clowns in the lobby—sounded like a fun place to stay. Besides, as the front office assured me, usually there was no paranormal activity in the office or the rooms. Only when a lot of people visited the Old Tonopah Cemetery next door, otherwise known as the Haunted Graveyard, was there some activity. 

            My grandkids were excited about staying at the Clown Motel even if it wasn’t of “It” fame. They sort of gave me a suspicious look though when I told them that if they wanted to look out the window at the graveyard, make sure their mom or dad looked first—no telling what might be looking back. My son kind of groaned and I felt kind of, well, I guess not. When we stayed at the Clown Motel my 9-year old grandson turned on all of the room lights and the bathroom light.
Though my grandkids and I visited the Haunted Graveyard that night and in the morning, nothing untoward occurred. I guess all of the happy clowns kept—other things—at bay.

Photographing at the Car Forest was fun. There are some 40 cars, trucks, and buses partially buried on several acres of land just south of Goldfield. The Car Forest is visible from Highway 95, the road to Reno, Nevada. It is an ongoing art project; and artists are welcome to visit and decorate the vehicles. It does make for a different and exciting art project in the Nevada landscape.
As the twilight descended on us we began working on photographing a pair of vehicles beneath the Milky Way that rose into the night sky. I had photographed at night before, but it was always something of a hit or miss affair. That night I took enough notes and learned enough that I’m certain that with more practice, someday I’ll become pretty good at photographing beneath the stars. And when I had enough photographs, we headed for Tonopah and the Clown Motel to spend the night.

            As I had told my son before we journeyed to Tonopah, we probably didn’t have to worry about taking any anti-ghost precautions. We would only have to take precautions if something followed us back from Tonopah. My son looked at me and I felt—well, actually, no. I laughed.


PS: The next day we stopped at Gemfield near Goldfield, where the grandkids looked for gems near the abandoned mine. And further south we stopped briefly at the ghost town of Rhyolite, near one of the entrance roads to Death Valley.


                                                                       * * * *                                       

TAG LINE: You can run, but what if you find yourself aboard a space faring Flying Dutchman?

BLURB: Luther Raynor is a son of one of the world’s wealthiest and politically influential families. When the Etava Virus appeared and spread across the world, mankind’s very survival was in question. Luther used his family’s wealth to construct a sleeper spacecraft to take the family into space, to orbit in safety around Jupiter for a thousand years while in suspended animation. At the last minute he changes the plan after calculating that upon awakening, survival supplies for one would last far longer than for two dozen or more people. He flees into space alone except for the Mobile Artificial Intelligence Image—May, responsible for operation of the spacecraft. But, Luther had no idea of what awaited him out there.

EXCERPT: The dream was always the same. He was floating alone in an unknown darkness until a pale dot emerged in the distance. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of burning wood and something else, something that smelled like sizzling bacon. His hand opened, fingers spread wide toward the dot that became a blue-green world, blanketed with dirty white clouds that sailed across a starry blackness. Dark, smoky clouds with a flickering yellow heart trailed the world whose colors were fading as if losing their vitality. An unfamiliar low, deep keening sounded from an unexplored deep…

* * * *
            “This is the Deep Space Sleeper Spacecraft Hope. Can anyone hear me?” After several moments of silence he closed with the by-now routine, “Hope out.”
In the cramped dimly lit cockpit cabin Luther Raynor covered his mouth with a trembling hand. Beyond the surrounding windows above the numerous instrument panels was a primordial night deeper than that of an unlit cave.
He listened intently. Beyond the dull hiss of circulating air he knew a stealthy creak issued from the narrow corridor through the open hatchway behind him. The sound would have been more at home on a haunted wooden sailing ship drifting aimlessly on a mysterious ocean rather than in a brightly lit spacecraft of which he was the only occupant. He was sure, after several frantic searches, that he was the only one aboard. But still…
Luther swallowed uneasily and ignored a faint groan. He touched the screens set in the control panel before him to activate another sensor and visual scan.
He was lost in the depths of unknown darkness, but knew he was a long way from Jupiter and the four moons discovered by Galileo Galilei - Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, and Io. After a months long journey the Hope was supposed to slide into position behind Europa, the moon with a possible planet wide ocean beneath an icy crust, and thought to have the best possibility for life outside of Earth. From there the gas giant, almost 700,000 kilometers distant with its myriad of misty blue, gray, orange, white and purple pastel bands, would fill the windows of the spacecraft. He would have a bird’s eye view of the mysterious Giant Red Spot, the hurricane-like storm that always was and always would be, as it grew and shrank according to its whim.
For a thousand years the five Galileans would circle that failed sun, after which the automatic flight systems would activate the return sequence and with a flare of rockets the powerful Zama Drive, descendant of the early 21st century Cannae Drive, would fling Hope away from its companions. Because of the speed generated by the Zama Drive, the world of his birth would soon appear in the spacecraft windows again.
            At least, that was what was supposed to happen.

* * * *
The darkness was fading before a kaleidoscope of spinning colors. A biting cold made moving difficult and painful.
Luther opened his eyes and after several moments of blinking against dim, yet painful lights, and blurriness, he realized he was still firmly secured within the titanium alloy suspended animation chamber.
            Elation filled him—he was alive! The emotion was replaced by confusion—where was he? But then, there was elation again—at least he was alive.
Luther examined the inside of the chamber with its maze of monitoring wires, electrodes, suspension fluid tubes, chemical nutrient tubes and waste tubes—the Personal Environmental Control and Life Support System—all connected to him through a layer of protective clothing by implanted plugs. There was a thick glass window above his face and one to either side of his head. Through the window all he could see was the ceiling of the cargo bay.
Luther frowned at a dim memory of being thrown around violently, but perhaps it was only a dream.
He had no idea how long he lay in the chamber lit by tiny lights from small instrument panels. When no one peeked through the chamber windows, he fumbled with the communication switch and in a hoarse voice painfully whispered, “Hello?”


            Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather with numerous grandchildren, and a published author, photographer and photojournalist. He served in the active duty Army and Army Reserve before enlisting in the Nevada Army National Guard; Hampton retired in 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class. He is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom, with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.
            He has shown two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a multi-media exhibit. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
            Hampton has an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis, from the College of Southern Nevada. He is studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with a double major in Art and English. Hampton also spent a cold, rainy Spring 2017 semester studying at a university in southwestern France in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains, where he developed a fondness for sugar crepes and hot chocolate with marshmallows, and a love for the French lifestyle.
            After almost 20 years of desert in the American Southwest and Southwest Asia, he still misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
 Hampton can be found at: