Monday, March 21, 2011

The Limits of Paranormal Belief

"Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside the range of normal or scientific explanation or that indicates phenomena that are understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure."

I write about ghosts and hauntings and I obviously have a strong interests in ghosts and hauntings.  When I began writing true ghost stories in my blog a little over a year ago,  I was mostly interested in the folklore and the ghost stories themselves.  Oddly,  I had given little thought to the theory or reality behind the stories.  I just loved the stories.  I had a few paranormal experiences myself involving hauntings, but I had no opinion whatsoever on the world of the paranormal outside of the ghostly.  Over the last year,  I have met so many other people that are interested in the paranormal and otherworldly that I've had to question my belief in all paranormal things.  Of course, the world of the paranormal is incredibly broad and includes ghosts, UFOs, cryptology, esp, witchcraft, faith and spiritual healing and many other topics.

This brings me to my main question.   As people who are interested in the paranormal, where do we draw the line?  As paranormal enthusiasts do we believe in everything paranormal or just one or two things?  I think that line is different for all paranormal enthusiasts.  I also find the line is completely variable.   I've known people who believe in aliens but think ghosts are ridiculous or who believe in ghosts but think Bigfoot is nonsense.    I know people that love ghost stories but think magic and witchcraft is foolishness.    I found this chart on wikipedia.  This survey questioned people as to whether or not they believe in certain areas of the paranormal:
Farha-Steward  Poll  Results for Belief/ Disbelief in Paranormal Topics (Don't Believe is Not on  Chart)

                                                              Believe         Not Sure
astrology                                                  17%        26 %                
channeling                                                  10%           29%
clairvoyance and prophecy                         24 %          33%
communication with the dead                     16 %           29%
demonic possession                                  40%             28%
ESP                                                         28%             39%
extraterrestrials visited Earth in the past     17%             34%
ghosts/spirits of the dead                          39%             27%
haunted houses                                        40%             25%
psychic/spiritual healing                            56%             26%
reincarnation                                            15%             28%
telepathy                                                  24%             34%
witches                                                     26%             19%


Other surveys by different organizations at different times have found very similar results. A 2001 Gallup Poll found that the general public embraced the following: 54% of people believed in psychic/spiritual healing, 42% believed in haunted houses, 41% believed in satanic possession, 36% in telepathy, 25% in reincarnation, and 15% in channeling.   So, it seems that almost half of the population believes in ghosts, hauntings, and faith healings. Almost 65% of those surveyed, either believed in or were open to the possibility of hauntings being real.  However, very few people embrace the notion of aliens having visiting the earth and clairvoyance. 

Lately, I've been drawn to magic and witchcraft as a paranormal endeavor.  As a good Catholic girl,  I was brought up to believe this is evil, so I can't practice it.  But I've enjoyed reading about it and learning about its history.  This is something most people do not believe in within the paranormal realm.   This week I did an experiment, just to see what happens.  I cast a spell.  Of course,  I chose one that called to St. Rafael, St. Michael, and St Gabriel.  This seemed natural to me as Catholics pray to the saints and ask for their intervention often enough.  The spell called for me to light some candles and make three wishes.  One impossible wish, on wish for love, and one wish for business and ask the above angels to help obtain said wishes.  I did so.  Interestingly, the candle for the impossible wish (I wished that Japan would have a speedy and painless recovery) went out almost immediately.  The others burned through the night.  The other two wishes were for my husband (love) and for my next novel to be published by one of the two editors that are currently reviewing it (business).    If it works, I may put a check by believing in magic, if not,  I'll still stay in the not sure column. 

So I ask my readers, where do your paranormal leanings go?  Do you draw the line somewhere or does every aspect of the paranormal interest you?  Are there things you believe in and other things your find ridiculous?    I noticed the survey did not include Cryptids.  I would like to know where interest in cryptids would stand on this survey.  I've been reading  the blog Gummerfan's  Monster HQ lately
http://gummerfansmonsterhunterhq.blogspot.com/ and his articles on cryptids are interesting.  I wonder if that is a lesser believed in area of the paranormal?  So let me know where you stand and where your limits of the paranormal begin and end.

9 comments:

Scared said...

Paranormal stuff can be interesting and fun without the tricky problems of truth and belief. Bigfoot is more likely to exist than ghosts, but ghosts are too much fun to ignore. I guess I find the phenomenon of belief in the paranormal to be just as interesting as the paranormal.

Lewis Powell, IV said...

I can't say I believe all the paranormal stuff out there, in fact, I don't believe all the ghost stories I read or even write about. But, I don't begrudge others of their beliefs. For me, I certainly believe there's a spiritual realm that interacts with the living (on the other hand I believe there's also a good deal of natural phenomena that is mistaken for this), I certainly think that some of the cryptid stories are based in truth as well as some UFO reports. However, some of these beliefs are tempered by the people I most associate with them. Frankly, after reading some of the writing about UFOs out there which is often associated with things like the 2012 prophecies, Nostradamus, conspiracy theories, etc., the reports seem a good deal "kookier." Of course, then again, some people think I'm kooky for my own beliefs in the spiritual realm.

As for your spell, a Wiccan friend of mine recently referred to spell casting as "prayer with props." I pray your prayers work out. :-)

Jessica Penot said...

Lewis... It is funny you say prayer with props because that is what I felt like. In the Catholic church we often pray to saints and as I was doing it the only difference I felt was the lighting of candles as I did it! I think prayer with props might be a perfect description.

Scared.. I'm with you. The belief is definately just as interesting as the paranormal.

Marbella Jewelry Designs said...

I definitely believe in ghosts because of personal experience and love to watch/read about other paranormal topics because of the mystery involved. But I don't really believe in extraterretrials visiting the earth or bigfoot, etc. But even so, I keep an open mind, I mean anything is possible.

Bear said...

G'day Jess,
Personally I feel it's more a matter of empathy with the Human condition rather than a fixed set of beliefs. Fascination and curiosity are parts of an imagintive persons mind and natural desire to learn more about the world we share. Cheers!

laughingwolf said...

i used to have 'visitations' by dead family members, mostly mom, on a regular basis... all they did was appear 'in my head', look out thru my eyes at what i was seeing, then fade away... none at all this past year....

Brenda said...

Excellent post, yet again; Jessica. But then they always are just that. I find it amazing that people are becoming far more open to anything unexplained these days. Where there will always be those who walk with blinders on; I am not one.

I grew up speaking and seeing "the dead" and it's part of who I am and what I do. I've experience past life; both through regression, and while doing readings for others. I've experience the paranormal on many levels in so many ways since about the age of three. Although, I do admit that prior to starting school I know intuitively there were some things best not shared. The same went while I worked in the corporate world.

I see, hear, know, and sense much. Everything from precognitive dreams to you name it. My husband isn't always thrilled when I'm talking to someone at 1 AM; yet he's used to it.

When I work as a para-investigator; I go in purely as a part of the team and work from a scientific perspective. It help the team members at times; especially if there's a very strong presence.

My belief? Is that everyone has the right to choose. Even if it's to travel blindfolded.

My eyes? Wide open!

Karen said...

I find it all fascinating, however, I love reading ghost stories. I have since I was little, it helped me to overcome my fear of dying. I was a sickly little kid, and dying terrified me.
I try not to judge what other people believe. Judgement is simply another way for us to make ourselves feel smarter, stronger, better, than those around us, when the truth is that we fear we are less. So, no judging for me, it's tightrope.

Anonymous said...

So Searcy is closing...mmm...what are the future plans for the location...Searcy is quite an intriguing place from what I've have heard.