From Past Journals
© The Ghost Club
THE FATIMA INCIDENT.
On October 17th 1917, an estimated 70,000 people gathered together at Fatima (a small town north of Lisbon in Portugal) to watch a phenomenon of which some described as ‘The Miracle of The Sun’. People saw numerous things from a luminous ball of light, to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, Joseph and much more. A torrential downpour drenched all 70,000 people, however when this light phenomenon swopped down on the startled crowds, each and every one of the 70,000 crowd found that their clothes became instantly dry. There was telepathic communication between the Virgin Mary and many of the witnesses. There was also a strange ‘buzzing sound’ which entered some of the witnesses ears, similar to some UFO close encounters. One of the three main witnesses to whom these incredible visions occurred Lucia, stated that this apparition, Virgin Mary, call it what you will, told her that World War 1 would end that day, it didn’t! Incidentally this phenomenon was witnessed from over 20 miles away and the light phenomenon was to some, quite painful! ‘The images of Saints were seen along the edges of the luminosity in the region produced by the ionization of the air’
During the months before this event, local villagers reported strange severe claps of thunder and odd pops and bangs and a luminous ball was seen near the area where the later events would occur, where it then headed off down the valley. This and many more events occurred around this time - far too many to name here, suffice it to say, this book goes into all what happened that days and the days before in greater detail.
As stated above, after the book gives the reader the facts of this event and shows us how incredible these visions were, (real or not). One things for sure, there is absolutely no denying in any way shape or form that what was seen that day WAS SEEN. There was no mass psychosis no trickery. We’re not talking about a few witnesses here, we’re talking about thousands of people from all walks of life and who were subjected to some kind of phenomenon. But what was it?
The book then goes into a roller coaster ride of theories, speculations and scientific fact on areas which all can fit in and to some degree in their own small way; possibly explain what happened that day. It looks at seismic activity ball lightning, luminous lights, also at the stimulation of the temporal lobes of some of the witnesses. We learn that some Canadian researchers did a test where they placed some people’s head into a cone shaped device of which a short burst of microwave radiation entered their skulls after which they said they heard a clear ‘buzzing noise’ inside their head (just like the Fatima witnesses) So was some kind of short wave microwave radiation in play that day? Again the feeling by some of a ‘close presence’ or alien presence, call it what you will, when the temporal lobes are electrically stimulated creates this feeling of a presence. Again some authors ask, was there some kind of localised electromagnetic effect in place that day? Are some geographical areas more prone to emitting this effect than others, which can induce in the startled observer these peculiar feelings? In other words, can the Earth’s own magnetic field, under certain conditions trigger electrical disturbances within the brain creating a false reality?
Another contributor to this book, Auguste Meessen Ph.D speculates that we shouldn’t rule out the Extraterrestrial hypothesis. He speculates that it’s not within the bounds of credulity that perhaps the ‘aliens’ (call them what you will) may have undertaken some kind of ‘experiment’ that day (a psyco-social experiment) which was implemented to test our reactions and beliefs about Religious matters. Yes a bit far fetched I’m sure but nonetheless intriguing when we put all the other elements in this book together.
Did you know for instance, as Irene Blinston Ph.D informs us, that from 1990 to 1999 at least 392 cases of apparitions of the Virgin Mary were reported and Investigated by the Catholic Church? 95 of those cases involved children. And let us not forget; as she goes on to inform us, that two of the world’s religions were formed with religious apparitions, Islam and Mormonism. She also states that both Mohammad and Joseph Smith had visitations with an ‘angel’.
One of the authors, Raul Berenguel, postulates about ultrasound and informs the reader about ultrasound techniques that were implemented by the American troops on the Iraqi troops during the first Gulf War to induce fears of despondency and desperation. We also learn from this author that an American modified C-130 aircraft emitted a high potency microwave frequency towards the Iraqis to make them believe that what they were hearing was the ‘voice of God’. So, there is no denying that high microwave ultrasound can, under certain conditions, enforce a change in the brain’s mechanism to which it can falsely induce a state of fear and alarm through auditory and visual stimulus creating a sound or vision which ‘really isn’t there’. Now we didn’t have this type of apparatus back in 1917 unless of course (as some authors suggest) that it was there but confined within the locus of the environment, something earth based, a tectonic strain a movement of the Earth’s crust scarping together emitting balls of light (which as we know can happen, more so in fault zones).
The work and research of Michael Persinger who is well known to the research community is given an airing here in this book. Michael goes into great detail about his theories and places them into the arena of the Fatima Event, eg. magnetic fields, temporal lobe instability.
Janet Elizabeth Colli Ph.D discusses angels, aliens and near death experiences and goes on to inform us that Physicist Janusz Slawinski demonstrated that dying organisms emit a burst of electromagnetic energy at death.
All in all then this book is a marvelous pot pouri of theory, speculation, fact, and wonder and as stated, brings together a wealth of top people in their field all who in their own way, look at the Fatima event with their own fine tooth comb. It’s certainly an interesting read and one can take from this book what they want from it. Some readers will believe one theory whilst others will believe another, that’s as maybe, but what sadly we are no further forward in understanding, is ‘What exactly happened that day’? Will we ever know?
Marion visions still occur to this day but what would make it all so real and understandable would be to capture a Marion vision by camcorder but until that day, we can only speculate and wonder at the events on that October day back in 1917, to 70,000 awe struck people. The world is certainly a strange place made all the stranger by events like these.
Review by Malcolm Robinson.
Strange Phenomena Investigations SPI (England)
Review by Robert Snow
(Covering 1999 to 2002)
Paperback: 270 Pages
Price: £15 including postage and packing
By Archibald Lawrie
Published by 1st BooksThe Psychic Investigators Case Book
(Covering 2003 to 2004)
Paperback: 278 Pages
Price: £15.00 including postage and packing
By Archibald Lawrie
Published by AuthorhouseThe Psychic Investigators Case Book
(Covering 2005 to 2006)
Paperback: 270 Pages
Price: £15 including postage and packing
By Archibald Lawrie
Published privately by the author Archibald Lawrie, an academic, has spent most of his life in the teaching profession. For twenty-five years he was the Head Master of a large school in Scotland. Since retirement, he has devoted most of his time to further the study of his lifelong interest, the paranormal and the unexplained. These books, unlike some books on the paranormal, deal with first hand experiences, while a lot of other publications on the subject recount second hand experiences or even legendary hauntings, in which it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a witness to the events.
The diversity of supernatural topics covered is wide and varied from poltergeists to the ghost of a dead aircraft pilot, and strange happenings in a haunted castle to experiences in a haunted inn. It may interest the reader to know that Archibald is now the Vice-President of The Scottish Society for Psychical Research (S.S.P.R.) and President of the Edinburgh Psychical Research Organisation
There is no better collection anywhere of up-to-date true ghost stories and paranormal happenings than those found in these volumes of case notes.
Hauntings, murders, body snatching, the sexual needs of an incubus, phantom monks, cursed houses, pathetic child ghosts; they’re all there. And they’re not merely in the traditional places linked to ghostly goings-on like ancient gloomy castles but in everyday people like you and me.
These accounts have been specially selected for you and put together for your enjoyment and enlightenment by an expert who meets the psychic world on a day to day basis, and by the very person who encountered them first hand.
Some of the accounts of meetings with the supernatural world are incredibly sad, some are hair-raisingly scary but every last one of them is utterly, utterly intriguing!
There are special additional technical notes for those who want to increase their knowledge and understanding of the paranormal but those who want merely some good, thought provoking bedtime reading, it’s all there too.
All three volumes are available from:
Archibald A. Lawrie
5 Church Wynd,
By Rupert Matthews, published 2008 by The Breedon Books Publishing Company Ltd.
It is an interesting conundrum whether counties which vie for the title of ‘most haunted’ have more ghosts per acre, or just more people who publish accounts of them. My (far from complete) database records 24 titles about Cornish spookery, which brings Britain’s westernmost county in close on the heels of Devon (36), Lancashire (29), Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire (25) and London (27) as a hotspot for hauntings.
But Rupert Matthews’ latest book on these matters goes much wider than just ghosts, with chapters on giants and devils, piskies, mermaids, lost treasures, King Arthur, the mysterious history of Cornwall, witches, mysterious beasts and the Cornish saints. As he says in his introduction, “Other counties have their ghosts, their witches and their legends – but Cornwall has the lot and in numbers that seem to belie belief. It seems that almost everywhere you turn there is another mystery to be found, unearthed and studied, to the bafflement and wonder of all”.
Rupert Matthews is a professional author, a historian with over a hundred titles behind him including children’s books on pets, prehistoric animals and books on transport, exploration, railways and military and aviation history as well as ghosts. He will be familiar to Ghost Club members from his long back-list of ghost publications, starting with his illustrated booklets for Pitkin in the early 1990s (‘Haunted London’ etc – still the best compact guides to the historical ghosts of our ancient cities). More recently, he has produced books in the ‘Ghosthunter Walks’ series for SB Publications and several in Countryside Books’ ‘Haunted Places’ series. I can only hope that this publication for Breedon also marks the start of a new series for him.
He is a member of the Ghost Club and some will remember the fascinating talk he gave about ‘Ghost Hunting for a Living’ at the Victory Services Club in June 2007, about the practicalities of living by his pen in this crowded marketplace. Approaching one of his books therefore, you are guaranteed that he’s been able to draw on a lot of information, great experience of presenting it and a well developed ‘sanity test’. This professionalism shows through in the structured approach he takes to the chapters on most of his subjects. Rupert generally follows his account of the legend in question with a brief but sound historical analysis, leading where possible to an attempted explanation (including in his chapter on mysterious saints - one of the best three page summaries of the history of the Celtic church in Britain I’ve come across).
The exceptions to this approach are his chapters on ghosts and mysterious beasts, which together account for nearly half the book. By my count, he manages to squeeze in over 110 accounts of ghosts into the first of these, a wonderful helter-skelter of the whole range of spectres reported from Cornwall, and there just isn’t space to give each that degree of analysis. That’s a sacrifice I, for one, can live with! There is an excellent section on maritime ghosts, including a cheering account of ghosts resulting from a successful Customs operation against the Finney gang and two stories of ghost ships in the sky, a type of haunting which so far as I know is unique to Cornwall (if I was a skeptic, I’d be wondering where I could get whatever the witnesses had been drinking!). There are two cycling ghosts; a fleet of ghostly coaches; a trio of grey ladies in Truthall Lane, Camborne, one of whom when challenged replied chillingly “The living have naught to do with the dead”; and a ghost who when its false teeth were taken from the graveyard, came to ask for them back.
As well as mentioning the Beast of Bodmin and Exmoor (Alien Big Cats) and the sea monster Morgawr, Rupert’s chapter on mysterious beasts also introduced me to a type of ghost I had never heard of before - ‘lane dogs’, Cornwall’s variant on East Anglia’s demon dogs like Black Shuck, Padfoot etc. Unlike their East Anglian counterparts, lane dogs have individual names, like Carrier (seen along the B3254 and described as a giant black dog with blazing red eyes the size of saucers – so far, much like the Shuck), or Darley, seen around North Hill on Bodmin Moor, who appears as a small white dog, who can turn black and swell to the size of a calf when angry. Without, I hope any undue immodesty, it is a real pleasure to learn about wholly new types of hauntings after many years of reading round the subject and it’s a tribute to Rupert’s depth of knowledge that this book surprised me so often.
‘Mysterious Cornwall’ is not perfect – after a while I found the moody black and white landscape photos a little repetitive and would have liked them interspersed with more pictures of the known historical personalities involved, or witness drawings of the mysterious beasties. That is really only a criticism of taste and fancy, but more serious omissions are that the book lacks a map (essential if you are planning a tour) and a bibliography.
This is quite simply the best single volume I have read on Cornish phenomena. I have no doubt that it will inspire many readers to want to visit Cornwall to see their settings for themselves, and to know more about Cornish phenomena and I hope the publishers will remedy those omissions in the reprints which this so richly deserves. I also hope that they are signing Rupert up for companion volumes on other counties…
Folklore and ghosts: A review article on The Lore of the Land
Review by Alan Murdie
On November 6th 2007, folklorist Jacqueline Simpson gave a lecture to the Folklore Society, the ‘The Lore of the Land’ based upon her book with Jennifer Westwood of the same title (1). Although her talk was centred on the concept of place legends, it inevitably touched upon the supernatural and the subject of ghosts – hauntings perhaps being the most common type of place legend.
Whilst there are many local and regional books of every 15 to 20 years there appears a truly comprehensive gazetteer on the folklore of the British Isles. Such a work is encyclopaedic in its scope and coverage and provides a life-long resource for serious enquirers and scholars. Over the last thirty five years two such books have been published, The Folklore Myths and Legends of the British Isles (1973) published by Reader’s Digest and Albion: A guide to legendary Britain (1985). Now Jacqueline Simpson the one surviving authoress of the former (which brought together contributions from virtually all the great folklore writers still living in the 1970s) and the authoress of the latter, Jennifer Westwood have combined forces to produce The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends from Spring Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys a monumental study of English regional folklore. The book provides a treasure house of material and will surely be a standard research text for decades to come, not least because of its detailed sourcing and extensive bibliography which runs to nearly 50 pages alone.
At the outset the Jacqueline Simpson explained the book – at over 900 pages - is limited to the English counties (with a section on London) estimating that a book which included Scotland, Wales and Ireland would have been four times the length. Although the remit of the book is far beyond ghosts, the supernatural features heavily throughout, both in the selection of sites and their folklore and in short essays on particular topics. As regards to traditional haunted places in England, the book is an indispensable guide and as such will be of interest to many Ghost Club members both for pleasure and also as a starting point for local research. The authors state that their main self-imposed limitation for inclusion in the book is that a site must be identifiable and have some narrative component (as opposed to a fairy story where the geographical location is not given).
For readers of popular ghost stories, the book clears up many mistakes and misconceptions which have endured in print for generations about various traditional haunted locations (for example, the 19th century statesman Lord Castlereagh saw a Radiant Boy apparition at Knebworth in Hertfordshire not Corby Castle in Cumbria or in Ireland as frequently stated).
Of course, no single book could attempt to cover all such material and the authors state they have eliminated “many anecdotes about ghosts, premonitions and so on, printed by writers on paranormal and psychic phenomena who tactfully refrained from identifying people and places, precisely because they believed the anecdotes to be true – but to the folklorist’s eye they are recognisably legends in their material, though deprived of specific details.” However, they are prepared to take websites as sources in some cases (e.g. Bluebell Hill in Kent and the work of Sean Tudor). With respect to the book I was delighted to discover folklore relating to locations in my own county Suffolk and in other parts of East Anglia which was wholly new to me (this is despite 30 years of reading all I can find and the collection of such fragments by myself and with others).
Reviewing certain traditions the authors emerge with new interpretations. With respect to Black Shuck, such as the infamous demon dog of East Anglia, the authors pick up on local names and variants and maintain on pages 500-501 that “Shuck is not a true Black Dog”. Certainly, their case for re-classifying Black Shuck is an interesting one. For example, in 1830, ‘Old Shock’ was said to appear in the form of a dog or a calf; in Suffolk ‘Shock’ sometimes had a donkey’s head. Around Geldeston the ‘Hateful Thing’ though seeming at times a black dog, might be identical with a spectral donkey haunting the same ground. They note another variant ‘Old Scarf’ might appear as a black goat; the Faines of Hethersettwere ‘the size of calves’; while West Wratting Cambridgeshire, boasted a Shug Monkey (a story first recorded by James Wentworth Day in Here are Ghosts and Witches (1954)). An old keeper who had witnessed the beast at Letton, Norfolk stated in around 1900 that its coat was “all skeffy-like….like an old sheep.” To this might have been added the tradition that around Thetford in Norfolk the Black Shuck was held to transform itself into a white rabbit with blazing eyes.(1)
Encouragingly for witnesses they also conclude that the role of the Black Shuck as an omen of death or disaster is not as well established as often believed. So where should one place Black Shuck? In the opinion of the authors he should be categorised as one of the many shape-shifting ‘bogey beasts’ of folklore, defined on pages 560-561 as shape-shifting apparitions which can take different guises, including inanimate forms such as fire. Noting that the “distinction between bogey beasts and hobgoblins is blurred” some such phantoms may have a pedigree reaching back to medieval times
THE RELEVANCE OF FOLKORE TO GHOST RESEARCH
Aside form the pleasure which folklore can yield in itself, there are a number of cogent reasons why folklore is worthy of attention of ghost investigators, even those who maintain they are engaged on a wholly scientific quest for the ‘truth’ about psychic phenomena.
Firstly, as the American ghost researcher Troy Taylor notes, folklore may provide clues about the existence of haunted locations, possibly even geographical areas (dubbed “window areas”) in which there seems to be a high concentration of psychic occurrences.(2) When it comes to place legends and traditions, later historical research sometimes reveals that the story is based on a genuine experience in the past. For example, the now demolished Rushbrooke Hall in Suffolk was said to be haunted by a White Lady, a detail endlessly recycled in popular ghost books since the beginning of the 20th century. Research into material held by the Society for Psychical Research turns up a letter containing a detailed albeit second hand account detailing manifestations which allegedly occurred in the 1850s and details of witnesses.(3) Folklore may also provide clues about the history of a site.
Furthermore, as Jacqueline Simpson and Jennifer Westwood recognise, a good deal of material in circulation in the paranormal scene may be best understood as folklore. Examples include “phantom hitch-hikers” and, for that matter “orbs” whose interpretations have become truly folkloric (and increasingly absurd - for example, I was told in September 2006 the depressing news certain orb believers are now maintaining that reddish or pink coloured orbs represent spirit girls and those of a bluish hue represent boys.).
I do not discount the possibility that some folklore may actually provide pre-scientific data on the nature of phenomena, as well as being relevant to other fields such as archaeology. The fact that a story may be derived from popular and non-literary sources does not mean it should be dismissed out of hand; clues may exist within the folklore of ghosts. After all, it was partly out of folklore that the serious consideration and study of ghost reports emerged; and folklore - albeit sometimes Germanic rather than English – gives us some of the terminology such as “poltergeist” which we use today. Folklore may provide clues about the nature of ghost experiences – for example Shari Cohn’s study of second sight in Scotland in 1999 revealed many experiences might have a precognitive element, as tradition avers.(4) Another question is the extent which folklore and popular cultural beliefs may actually shape the experience of ghosts themselves and the way in which witnesses describe them.
Folklore even provides a route by which sceptics can approach paranormal phenomena; whilst retaining a sceptical approach they can nonetheless study the phenomena in which they profess they do not believe, often it seems in the way that in previous generations Western scholars observed the practices of “primitive” peoples. Folklore has been particularly useful in respect of interpreting much of the data gathered in ufology – a subject that needs saving from many of its currently dwindling band of adherents – and whole theories and schools of thought have grown around a folkloric approach to the alleged phenomena. For example, many UFO and alien stories have parallels in earlier traditions of fairies and demons.(5)
Finally, folklore still has a powerful resonance on the human mind. Although we live in a primarily materialist and largely urban culture, many people find folktales charming, entertaining or scary. Victorian folklorists noted the same seductive power of such stories. This raises the question why?
I would suggest that the reason is that they have a power to touch the deeper parts of our minds. Folklore reaches beyond the rational self and can connect with our non-material needs and feelings and with the subconscious component of ourselves. It is, after all, in the subconscious that psychic abilities seem to lie, though dormant during most of our waking hours. Even sceptics feel the pull of folklore on occasion, no matter how much they may dismiss ghosts and the paranormal (for example, former Ghost Club General Secretary Robert Snow informed me that there are never any volunteers prepared to take the ‘Screaming Skull’ of Bettiscombe Manor, Dorset out of the house, once the tradition that to do so means death will follow within a year is revealed). As a link to the deeper aspects of the psyche, folklore deserves our attention, study and respect. Although Jacqueline Simpson and Jennifer Westwood do not delve into the ideas of Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychologist identified the workings of the collective unconsciousness in many folkloric apparitions such as White Ladies.
The hypothesis has been advanced in recent years that spectral White Ladies apparitions may be a form of archetypal hallucination, representing the genus loci or ‘spirit of a place’. Rather than arising from a particular deceased individual such apparitions seem to be closer to an idea or symbol. Apparitions such as white ladies seem to be associated with particular landscapes which trigger responses at a deep level of consciousness in the form of visions or waking dreams. Such apparitions may be connected with the more exotic female apparitions of folklore and religion such as banshees, goddesses or angels. As such, they may be a construction of the unconscious mind stimulated by psychic forces that operate both internally and externally to the brain of the witness. It is postulated that these apparitions are subjective in that they exist within the mind of the observer but they also appear to have a degree of objective existence in that they recur at the same place to a succession of different witnesses, sometimes many years apart. The psychologist Carl Gustav Jung considered that: “It not infrequently happens that the archetype appears in the form of a spirit in dreams or fantasy-products, or even comports itself like a ghost.” (6) Although such things as White Lady apparitions and Black Dogs are hard to fit into many theories about ghosts (such as ‘stone tape’) there is no doubt that people do report them and the study of folklore may provide a tool to their understanding.
* FOLKLORE AND GHOSTS: A REVIEW OF THE LORE OF THE LAND: A GUIDE TO ENGLAND’S LEGENDS FROM SPRING HEELED JACK TO THE WITCHES OF WARBOYS BY JENNIFER WESTWOOD AND JACQUELINE SIMPSON
Published by Penguin
Hardback £30.00 Paperback £22.00
(1) As recorded by the Rev C. Kent in his book Land of the Babes in the Wood (c1910).
(2) Taylor, Troy: The Ghost Hunter’s Handbook: The essential guide for investigating ghosts and hauntings (1998)
(3) File H104, Cambridge University Library
(4)Cohn, Shari in Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, April 1999.
(5) Vallee, Jacques Passport to Magonia (1969) and Magonia magazine generally for this approach.
(6) Murdie, A. Haunted Brighton Chapter Three
Ghosts Caught on Film
Photographs of the Paranormal?
By Dr Melvyn Willin
160 Pages, Hardback, ISBN 978-0-7153-2728-9
David and Charles Ltd. £12.99
Dr Melvyn Willin has put together a gem of a collection containing all the famous or infamous “Ghost” photographs any ghosthunter would know, and more.
Given his position as Honorary Archivist at the Society for Psychical Research, I suppose he’s a man best placed to do it. He has had an interest in the paranormal for over 30 years. Much of his previous work has been in the area of so called “paramusicology”. For his PhD he wrote a thesis on mediums who claim to be in touch with dead composers. As well as numerous articles and talks, some in The Ghost Club may also know him as a previous GC council member.
With a forward written by Professor Donald West, Director of Clinical Criminology at Cambridge, a President of the SPR and the 1958 winner of the McDougal Award for distinguished work in Parapsychology, this book shows its pedigree immediately.
Willin has sectioned the book in a way that helps the reader to look at the photographs with a clearer understanding. From the section on “The Earliest Images” comes the 1874 plate of “Katie King” and the medium Florence Cook. Sir William Crookes picture looks pretty naive to us now as do the “Posing Spirits” photographed in Frederick Hudson’s studios in 1875. However, Willin urges us to look at the pictures with “three sets of eyes”. Those of the 19th, 20th and 21st century.” This was a time when people believed the camera didn’t lie.
In “Photographing the Invisible” the author discusses Kirlian photography, thoughtography and aura transmission. This is illustrated with photos by Dr. Baraduc, a pioneer in the study of visual aura. On Doctor Baraduc’s photograph of his dying wife, Dr Willin asks the question we all wonder at, “What sort of man could do such a thing so soon after bereavement?”
I particularly liked the “Lookalike” and “Coincidental” photographs of the “Cherub in the Wedding Posy” and the “Sacred Elephant in the Sky”.
Included are also the “Every day anomalies” like the famous “Watcher of St Boltoph’s Balcony” and the sweet picture of Melanie Roberts on her confirmation day. Sweet, but for the ghostly hand in her veil!
All the favourites are here. The last section on “Most Famous Mysteries” misses none out. Yes, the Tulip Staircase, Raynham Hall and the one I always think about when I’m on my weary way home alone from an all-night vigil; “The Back Seat Passenger”.
From the earliest 19th century plates to Hampton Court’s 21st century CCTV cameras (front cover) nothing is missed out.
However, this is more than just a ghostly photo album. With the archivists skill, the author has researched each picture and offers several opinions and observations. And so, much like so much else to do with the paranormal we are left puzzling over it.
This beautifully presented book is well worth its £12.99 price tag. Put it on your Christmas list and then put it on your coffee table. Everyone, even someone with no special interest in ghosts will want to look at it.
Another positive feature of the investigation itself is the fact that the authors invite other paranormal investigators, predominantly from Ritson’s own North East Ghost Research Team, as well as a couple of media types, into the fray with them. This adds even more credibility into the investigation since the reader is not asked to merely take the words of the authors into consideration but to also hear the testimonials of other people at various levels of experience with this sort of phenomena. Their detailed accounts, along with those of close family members and friends, are published in the appendix of the book. And, luckily for the reader, the entity remained active regardless of the audience it was presented with.
Along with witness testimonials, the book also includes some photographs taken by the investigators and the family. While these photos on their own do not prove that a paranormal force was behind them, they are quite chilling nonetheless. One photograph depicts a macabre scene involving two soft toys on a plastic children’s table. Lying prostrate, legs in the air, is a fluffy yellow duck with a blue and white checked bow. Sitting upright next to the duck is a brown, long-eared rabbit. Projecting from the rabbit’s right hand is a large kitchen carving knife, extending along to the neck, blade down, of the unfortunate little duckie. Such a scene, one would think, must have been staged. Unfortunately, no real conclusive evidence either way can be determined.
The authors admit to using the term ‘poltergeist’ for what manifested itself in South Shields for want of a better word. It is deduced over time that there is a human focal point to the unexplainable happenings, but that the entity perhaps had created a ‘mind’ of its own. The fact that its reach seemed at times to go beyond the threshold of the family home can attest to that assumption. Certainly the entity’s penchant for displacing objects and dropping coins from unseen places near astonished onlookers is in line with classic poltergeist-like behaviour. However, some of its antics, including causing severe harm to its main focal point, sticking around much longer than one would expect and communicating both verbally and in writing to the investigators and family, frequently and on command, are not so in-line with past poltergeist documentation – unless you count Andrew Green’s discovery of a fairly dubious letter from a poltergeist in 1956 in this category. So was the entity another strain, if you will, of a poltergeist manifestation; or perhaps a result of a more sinister demonic infestation? It is up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.
The South Shields Poltergeist will appeal to anyone interested in poltergeist phenomenon. For the investigator, it will provide useful insights into how to deal with a situation like this should they ever find themselves encountering one. Key points taken from the book are to be meticulous in cataloguing and photographing the phenomena; to ensure that plenty of witnesses are on hand to provide testimonials; and to at all times remain resolute, calm and professional despite what terrifying events may unfold. For those that have lived through similar encounters, reassurance can be gained that they are not alone and that it is possible to overcome these experiences and come out stronger on the other end. And for those merely interested, this book will most likely cause at least one sleepless night.