All posts by Terry McCombs

Review: The Trickster and the Paranormal, by George P. Hansen

By Terry McCombs | October 25, 2003 | Leave a comment

The Trickster and the Paranormal, by George P. Hansen

Hansen spent eight years working in two different parapsychology laboratories and has done many years of research.

The book is a look at how The Trickster, which he refers to as a constellation of common themes & happenings that group together when certain actions and ideas or acted on, which seem to always be conjured whenever people become involved in the paranormal to any degree, but particularly when they try to bring about paranormal happenings. (Like working magic and such.)

The book is not light going, bring up as it does a number of obscure or confusing subjects such as abstraction, anti-structure, binary oppositions, deconstructionism, liminality, and reflexivity to name some but not all. However for all that it’s still a rewarding read and gives a person a lot to think about.

The evidence seems to be that if you are trying to organize a group involved in any manner with what is called the paranormal you will call the Trickster in and find in the end that this force will simply not set any structure stand, or if it is able to stand not in any large or well organized fashion. Or at least not so long at those in that group fail to take into account all the things that the Trickster brings with it.

He gives many examples from spiritualism, parapsychology, modern Paganism (which he is very respectful of), schools of philosophy, UFO research, individuals and even CSICOP a part which was most amusing to read about the Trickster having his way with.

I say the book is a must read because it would seem if we ever want to organize to any significant degree we have to understand what that will most likely bring about and figure out how to deal with it.

I have been involved in these sort of things for a number of years, and I have to say that I think Mr. Hansen has a lot to say that it worth looking at.

In the end the things we do seems to invoke a critter that, love it or not, has to be addressed so that when this huge wave appears we can ether be bowled over by it or try to learn to surf with it.


Afterlives

By Terry McCombs | August 18, 2003 | Leave a comment

Adiri:

Melanesian dead go to Adiri, the Land of the Dead. Some say it is an island, others say that it is a mountain located in the west beyond the sunset.

The dead are said to go though a journey past dire obstacles and grim gatekeepers before they can enter Adiri where they will be young forever and free of pain. Those who fail to make it cease to exist. And even those who make it can fade from existence if the living forget them.

Ama-No-Hashidate:

According to Japanese Shintoism there is a staircase that links earth to the afterlife. This is the Ama-No-Hashidate.

Asamando:

This is the afterlife of the Ashanti people of Africa. They say it is just like an Ashanti village on earth, only better. No drought, famine or the like. Though the dead still have to farm and tend animals.

Asgard:

The Norse dwelling place of the gods. It is a complex city of rich places, jewelled walls, and great banquet halls. and Valhalla. Like many afterlifes it is reached via a bridge.

Astral Plane:

The idea of the Astral Plane has been around for some time. Here I am referring to the afterlife that is described in a partially channelled book titled War In Heaven by Kyle Griffith. (1988 S/R press) In the afterlife described by Mr. Griffith the Astral Plane is as harsh and dog eat dog and the breathing world. And you don’t live forever but can only exist for as long as the energy you build up during life holds out (30 to 80 years) you then have to reincarnate or fade away.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! It seems that thousands of years ago a group of spirits found a nefarious way to prolong their Astral lives without reincarnating. They invented religion and appear to the newly dead as Jesus, Muhammad or even Elvis. Whom ever is mostly likely to pull them in.

They then continue to exist by draining the energy from those followers of that religion. (starts to channel Criswell) YES FRIENDS! Can you stand the horror of cannibal spirits who take the form of Elvis!

He calls the groups that do this The Theocrats. However they are not without opposition. It seems there are other groups of spirits he calls the Invisible Collage.

His basic suggestion is that once you die, if you are greeted by the Buddha (or Mary, or Saint Paul, or the Angel Moroni) punch him in the nose and say no thanks!

Avalon:

Also called The Fortunate Isle, this is the paradise of the ancient Celts. And was said to be a place of compleat timeless happiness, filled with music, feasting and dancing.

Bralgu:

The afterlife of the Australian Aboriginals. When a person dies the soul is ferried to Bralgu in an enchanted boat that sails upstream where you are reunited with dead relatives and friends.

Chalmecacivati:

If all the Rug-Rats were to die on one of their adventures this is where they would go, even Angelica. If they were Aztec.

Chalmecacivati is where the Aztecs believed babies and young children went in the afterlife. It is an earthly realm free of pain, want or human frailty.

Ching Tu:

This is a paradise described in one form of Chinese Buddhism.

It is said to be to the West beyond the sunset. This is a place to take refuse from the cycle of birth, live, death and rebirth by entering this land of pure consciousness, enlightenment & liberation.

Chinvato Peretav:

According to Zoroastrianism after a person dies the soul stays with the body for 3 days. On the forth day angles of protection accompany it to the north to Chinvato Peretav, or as it is also called Al-sirat, or the Bridge of the Separator.

The bridge in question is as thin as a hair and as sharp as a razor and spans a chasm filled with monsters. At the foot to the bridge the angels and some demons debated the worth of the dead soul. You can guess the rest.

City In The Sky: A common belief among a number of African tribes is that the dead go to a great city in the sky, it is like regular village life only in reverse. People rise as the sun sets, and sleep during the day, men to women’s work and women do men’s work etc. The City is connected to earth by rainbows.

Dilum:

The oldest recorded afterlife is Dilum. We know about it from The Epic of Gilgamesh from around 2500 B.C.E. Dilum means Place of sunrise and is said to be a lush garden full of fruit and game where favored souls live forever.

Djanna:

Djanna or Al-Janna is the paradise of the Islamic religion. In the “garden of Allah” the faithful enjoy delicious food, fruit in abundance, and freedom from pain.

There also they indulge in everything that was forbidden on earth (I have to wonder why the hell was it forbidden in the first place?) In it flow four rivers filled with milk, water, wine, & honey.

Each inhabitant is served by Houri (it’s where our word whore comes from) beautiful virgins with ebony eyes, creamy completions and purple nails who exist to serve their masters.

Whether this means Djanna is an exclusive men’s club you will have to ask a Muslim.

Elysium:

At first the Greek afterlife was pretty grim. Just take a look at Ulysses’s conversation with the resent dead in the Odyssey.

Later however they talked about the Elysian Fields. Which depending of the person telling about them are to be found on the Moon, Underground or elsewhere in the kingdom of Hades.

Most it seems are doomed to the gloomy afterlife that Ulysses heard about. However for the most deserving souls there is a secret road that leads to a land of endless delight. Where “souls take ease among the blessed groves.”

Gwenved:

Another Celtic afterlife. Some Celts believed that after a series of rebirths in which a different inborn evil is purged the perfected soul is at last let into Gwenved the White Place where one can experience great rest as well as earthly pleasures.

Happy Hunting Ground:

Basically a white man’s term for different Native American views about the afterlife. Mostly the Indians just called it the Spirit Land. Among the Algonquian, Iroquois, & Cherokee it is said to be a place where both human and animals go after death and is a place of endless Spring and Summer.

However before a human can enter this place they must have lived a life in which they exhibited at least one of the three virtues of loyalty, kindness or courage. Those who do not make it are lost a wandering spirits. Those who do are able to help the living with advise.

Hawaiki:

The people of eastern Polynesia believe in Hawaiki which means “our homeland.” It is reached only after a long and dangerous journey. Most do not make it but die on the way. However for chieftains, warriors and other important people the journey is easy.

Though if you give another gifts to the gods they can make it. On the whole sounds like a bum deal to me.

Inkolwe:

Which mean first born is the afterlife of the Belaze of Zaire.

In the afterlife death is like life only ones station is determined by when one died so that the first man to die is the chief and each person after him takes their place in the order of things.

Isle of the Blest:

The afterlife of Pythagoras, Plato and Cicero. Pythagoras said that it was to be found on the Moon.

Soul must soar there but can only do so by purging the residue of life on earth. Along the way there are evil forces that try to destroy the soul.

To prevent this the ascender must perform certain rites and rituals during their life.

Kailasa, Mount:

Also called the paradise of Shiva Mt. Kailasa is located in Tibet. Some Hindus say that before once again entering into the cycle of life, death & rebirth some souls may be rewarded with a stay at the top of this mountain.

There the soul enters through the Palace of Opulence and ascends to a place of flowers, fruit and water better then any found on earth, before having to return to the search for enlightenment.

Kevala:

The highest stage of knowledge in the Jain faith where each soul dwells in eternal enlightenment and bliss.

Somewhat like the Buddhist Nirvana or the Hindu Moksha. There the self is dissolved after many lifetimes and the soul having made it’s way through the five Pathways of Liberation.

Souls who have made it to Kevala are called siddhas or perfect ones.

The greatest thing about this say the Jains is that one totally sheds the body and is striped of all individual characteristics.

Khun-Lun:

A Chinese afterlife where the peaches of immortality ripen once ever three thousand years. It is ruled by Hsi Wang Mu the Royal Mother of the Western Paradise who was once a hideous beast but who was eventually transformed into a gracious spirit.

Ki-Agpga-Pod:

According to the Tupi Indians of Brazil three days after a person dies a small human shaped creature grows in the heart until it can burst free and soar into the sky.

Kotluwalawa:

The Village of the Dead to the Hopi Indians. It is said to lie beyond the Lake of Whispering Waters somewhere to the west. It is a place of rest and plenty.

Land of the Moon:

According to the Inuits (Eskimo) virtuous souls ascend to the Land of the Moon there to find eternal rest. While the wicked fall into Adlivun which lies at the bottom of the ocean and is a place of unending darkness and cold.

Lewu Liau:

The Ngaaju of Borneo say that the souls of the dead journey to a land of fertile fields and plentiful game, where the air smells of summer flowers all year long.

Limbo:

Not a part of official Christian doctrine, said to be a place where unbaptised babies go who can’t go to heaven because of original sin, but aren’t bad enough to go to hell.

Also said to be the place where the pre-christian patriarchs when (Can’t have Moses, Samson & David roasting in hell can we?) Said to be like heaven only without being able to see God.

Not excepted by most, if any protestant sects. As one famous American preacher put it “the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of unbaptised babies.”

Meru, Mount:

In ancient Hindu belief the paradise of Indra the Lord of Paradise, called Swarga is found atop Mount Meru. Which was said to be found at the center of the Universe directly above the Himalyas.

It is also found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead where it is called the sight of wonders.

Mizumu:

Another African “mirror afterlife” where the dead rise at sunset and plant crops in the fall etc.

The dead in Mizumu must remain near the living as they still need food, shelter and companionship. However they spend more time eating, drinking and dancing then the living.

Also those in Mizumu must be appeased as they are able to bring misfortune to those that displease them.

Moksha:

This is the ultimate spiritual destiny of HInduism. The goal is to reach a state where reincarnation is no longer needed and spirit dissolves as an individual entity and joins the collective cosmic essence, as “a drop of rain joins the ocean.” i.e. become one with the Universe.

Mormon Heaven:

According to the Mormon’s when you die you don’t go to Heaven when you die but to the spirit world.

If you are a Mormon you can at that time try and convert the other dead to Mormonism.

Heaven it seems will not show up into the “Resurrection.” At which time Mormons will enter into Paradise.

Paradise is said to be a place of both natural splendor mountains and streams and created splendor houses of gold, jewelled streets etc. Married people who die will be free to remarry in the after life.

However those who are married on earth can go through a ceremony that will seal their marriage in the afterlife so that that will remain married after-death.

Only those who do this are able to ascend to godhood. This option is closed to both single people and unbonded people.

And of course as we all know from South Park only Mormons go to Heaven, but who wants to go as you have to spend forever with Mormons.

New Age Afterlife:

There are far to many takes on the afterlife among what is called the New Age Movement to really say that this one or that one is THE New Age afterlife. Though there are some common (more or less) themes. For which I point to the link below.

What the Afterlife is like: http://www.ettl.co.at/uc/misc/insights.html

New Jerusalem:

The name for the afterlife for a number of Christian sects. Which they say will appear when a new earth is made. They say it will be made by God and descend from Heaven.

According to the Bible it will be of equal length and breath (1,500 cubic miles by modern reckoning) Which is about the distance from New York to the tip of Florida.

Otherwise it is just a grander, larger redoing of the City of Jerusalem.

Nirvana:

As with the Jain Kevala or the Hindu Moksha not a place but a state of being. Or not being depending on how you look at it. In which the `self´ is let go and becomes one with the all.

Otherworld:

The Celts known as Druids believed (as far as can be said as they did not write down anything) a purified and elevated earth that was the dwelling place of the god.

Only a thin metaphysical barrier separates the two realms, so the living can speak with the dead. It was even possible through the intervention of a god for living humans to be invited into the Otherworld.

Humans could also force or blunder their way into it. This belief lived on in belief in the Fey, Fair People or Fairies.

To be sure modern Druids have their own ideas about the afterlife.

The Pole Star:

The Pole Star was the pivot point for the Aztec Universe, the place of the dead. 13 domed regions revolve around it. Made up of the then known stars (planets), the Moon, Sun, Clouds, Lightning, Rain, Heat & the earth. Beneath the earth were 9 underground realms.

As for the dead of the Pole Star it was divided into 4 regions, one for each direction. East is for warriors, sacrifices, and traidsmen who die in far lands. South is for those who die in or by water. West is for women who die in childbirth while the North is for Children.

Sheol:

Before the Hebrew religion there was a wide spread belief in a Semitic afterlife. It was called Sheol and was thought to be a place of unending quite, where there was no pain, but also no joy because the dead were forever cut off from the realm of god and the angels. The dead were week, faded and lethargic. Over time this idea was kept but rethought as a place where evil-doers were sent.

Summerland:

The phrase Summerland has been used by a number of different peoples. New Agers, modern Pagans, modern Druids 19th century Spiritualists and some Native Americans say that their real word for the afterlife could be interpreted as Summerland.

However the first use of the word that we can be sure of is found in the works of philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. Who said that was a place of no material properties but was an ethereal realm of the purely intellectual & emotional.

Tain: *

The afterlife of Confucius and other ancient Chinese philosophers.

This afterlife is highly organized and under the command of Tain-Shen, who rules a heavenly court that sees and records every human action during life. The very good are rewarded by being made bureaucrats in the hierarchy of the sky.

As with earthly bureaucracies the way can be made more easy though the liberal use of money. To this day you can buy a special objects made from paper that are burned and go with the dead (cars, houses, fake money) where they become real in the afterlife.

Tamoanchan:

The Aztec afterlife that was to the West of the Pole Star and the place where women who died in childbirth went. There whey lived with the Sun, they could, if they wished leave this realm for short times to bring illness and death to child. You figure it out.

Tlalocan:

The Aztec afterlife that is found to the South of the Pole Star.

It is were people die in water, by the weather or lightning go and is ruled by Tlaloc the god of thunder and lightning.

Tlalocan is a place of friendly animals, fragrant flowers and peace…. save for the times that Tlaloc demands a sacrifice… but that’s for the living for don’t worry about it if your dead.

Tum:

The afterlife of the Melanesian Islands is reached by riding on the back of a giant serpent. However only those will a certain mystic birth mark or tattoo are let in. Once in the usual feasting and joy is found.

There are many such afterlives to be found with just a few differences here and there. Such as Tumbuka of the Malawi people, Tura of the Mongolians, The White Mountains of the Mohave Indians.

Valhalla:

The Land of the Heroic Slain of the Norse people. Only warriors who died in battle could be taken to Valhalla there to battle all day, be remade at sunset and feast all night on roast goat. The regular dead went to the land of the Goddess of Death Hel.

And the clock struck 13. Which means that someone had to die, or at least take it to a clock repair shop.

To say the least there could have been a lot more versions of the what some people think the afterlife will be like, assuming there is such a thing.

Many of them are enough alike that just naming them and repeating the same things seemed kind of pointless to me.

As for the more orthodox versions of the afterlife I figure there are enough other places to find people who will be only TOO happy to regale you with talk about them so I left them off as well.

However there is another source for thoughts about the afterlife that I don’t think should be left out.

Fiction:

Fiction! Get real that’s just something that someone just made up! Those aren’t `real´ afterlives. Are they?

Who is to say who is and is not really inspired? The Catholic Church after all has (or at least had I’m not sure any more) Purgatory for centuries and it came from one person. Who’s to say that Harlan Ellison is not just as deserving of Sainthood as that fellow?

There are far too many different afterlives to be found in fiction to be listed. Just some are such ones as:

Traitor To The Living by Philip Jose Farmer. At one point in this book the hero discovers that at death the dead person becomes part of an `atom´ of the dead, a grouping of 64 former humans who can communicate with each other but no others. Hard luck if the people who died near the same time you did don’t happen to speak your language. Farmer has also come up with some other afterlives in other books.

In Mick Farren’s Jim Morrison’s Adventures In the Afterlife we follow the travels of the ex-rock star ex-breather in the hereafter. Farren’s afterlife is a rather `fleshy place, at least so it seems to those there.

While mostly a mental construct, it is perceived by those there just as the physical world is to use.

Though how you think about such things can have a pretty profound effect on things, explaining why Welsh poet Dylan Thomas manifests himself as a large drunken billy goat with crooked horns, and Amy Simple McPherson splits into two different people.

Then there is that game from White Wolf where one plays a lost spirits or the like.

Well…… Like I said there are a lot of fictional afterlives out there……….

Or are they fictional?

Bibliography

  • Encyclopedia of Heaven by Miriam Van Scott. St. Martin’s Press, 2000
  • Facts on File Encyclopedia of Mythology & Legend. Facts on File inc, 1988
  • Encyclopedia of Afterlife Beliefs and Phenomena by James Lewis. Detroit Invisible Ink, 1995
  • Encyclopedia of the Gods by Michael Jordan. Facts on File inc, 1993

Note:

“Tain”—actually, Tian or (older) T’ien–“Heaven”, not as a place, but an anthropomorphic Sky-God, perhaps the oldest deity in Chinese religion, evidently going back at least to the Shang dynasty(circa 2500 B.C.E.).

Confucius emphatically never talked about the afterlife. Popular Taoism has the Yu-Ti (Jade Emperor) ruling things, and syncretic religion does tend to think of the afterlife as an extension of the old Imperial system, but this has nothing whatsoever to do with the teachings of Confucius or Lao-Tzu. You need to correct this.

The Tian-Shan is the Chinese name for the mountains that separate China from India. Nothing more.

Ed.: Thanks to Jeffrey Sommer for this correction.