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Ancient Aliens, Superheroes, and the Decline in Religious Belief

Co-author: Abby Moore (superhero theorist). Are myths of ancient astronauts filling the voids left behind in the exodus from the myths of religion? Perhaps the popularity of the Ancient Aliens television series parallels the decline of traditional religious belief in 21st-century America. After all, twice as many Americans believe in ancient aliens visiting humans on Earth (35%) than believe in the pure evolution of human life on Earth (19%). Maybe TV shows about ancient aliens and Hollywood movies about superheroes provide the big cosmic narratives that once belonged almost solely to theology. Think about it: ancient aliens and superheroes both have superpowers once reserved for Gods, prophets, and miracle makers.

For the record, I am an existentialist without the angst, influenced by Sartre, Sagan, and others. In a vast and ancient universe of two trillion galaxies and three sextillion stars stretching across 100 billion light years, I am not a cosmic narcissist who believes a Creator has a special plan for me or my species on a speck of a planet in a remote part of one galaxy. Yet, the cosmic vastness gives me hope that— to quote the astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston) in Planet of the Apes (1968)— there has “to be something better than man. Has to be.” As explained in my most read essay in Medium, these better-than-human extratrerrestrials have never visited Earth (though I wish they would). Instead, we are witnessing the electronic birth of a new religion based in the myths and imaginary legends of extraterrestrial reality-TV stars—the “ancient aliens” who star in every episode, but have yet to appear.

21st Century Non-Belief

Much has been written about the decline of religious belief in 21st-century America, as documented in various surveys by the Pew Research Center. Americans who have no religious belief and/or no religious affiliation rose to 22.8% in 2014, up from 2% in the 1950s. While religious writers blamed the decline on the usual suspects (the breakdown of society, the decay of traditional values, and so on), the atheists and humanists tweeted their cheers of hope, apparently overlooking the possibility that a decline in traditional religious belief does not automatically equate to a rise in reason, science, and enlightenment. Given the increasing paranormalism in America, it could be the opposite. Make no mistake, something will fill the void.

According to the United States Census, the current US population is an estimated 327 million people. If indeed 22.8% of Americans are non-believers, that total equals about 75 million people. Age is definitely a factor in non-belief. Over 33% of millennials claim no religious belief, while GenX non-believers are at 23%, Baby Boomers are 17%, and those born before 1945 are 11%.

TABLE 1. Source: Pew Research Center website (2014); accessed November 11, 2017.

According to Pew, about 50% of the unaffiliated are disenchanted with religion or don’t need religion because of their beliefs in “science” and the lack of evidence for a Creator. Another 20% have a beef against organized religion, while 18% are unsure of their beliefs and 10% are inactive.

What’s most interesting to me is not the increase in atheists and agnostics, but the 15.8% who believe “nothing in particular.” 15.8% equals just over 50 million people. Since I doubt all of these people are nihilists, I wonder what they believe about the origins and destiny of the human species.

Are they merely disinterested in religion? Have they outgrown religion, with no need to replace it with any other worldview or cosmology? Do they believe in evolution or that the observable universe is indeed 13.7 billion years old and contains two trillion galaxies? Do they believe in human-caused climate disruption or the Anthropocene? Do they believe we got here via the advice and interventions of ancient aliens? Or do mobile phones, cool threads, hipster restaurants, and Netflix subscriptions provide the needed daily dope—such that they do not need a cosmology for themselves or for our species?

GRAPH 1. Beginning in the late 1960s, we can see the post-Apollo rise of the nones. Source: Gallup and National Public Radio, 2013.

The Apollo Effect

According to Gallup surveys and National Public Radio, the “nones” stayed below 5% until the Apollo program in the late 1960s. The rise of the nones began with the launch of rockets to the moon and continued long after the Apollo program was shut down. For readers who might not know, Apollo 8 orbited the moon in 1968 and took the famed Earthrise image, with Apollo 11 landing on the moon in 1969 and Apollo 17 marking the last journey to the moon in 1972.

GRAPH 2. The post-1990 rise of the internet and rise of nones. Source: MIT Technology Review (“How the Internet is Taking Away America’s Religion,” April 4, 2014) and Allen Downey (“ “Religious Affiliation, Education, and Internet Use,” March 21, 2014).

The Internet Effect

According to computer scientist Allen Downey, the rise of the internet correlates with the rise of non-belief from 1990 to 2010. During that period, the increase in non-believers jumped from 8% to 18% of Americans. In a study of four decades of survey data trends regarding demographics, socioeconomics, religious affiliation, and internet usage, Downey concluded that:

• Religious upbringing increases the chance of religious affiliation as an adult. Decreases in religious upbringing between the 1980s and 2000s account for about 25% of the observed decrease in affiliation.

• College education decreases the chance of religious affiliation. Increases in college graduation between the 1980s and 2000s account for about 5% of the observed decrease in affiliation.

• Internet use decreases the chance of religious affiliation. Increases in Internet use since 1990, from 0 to nearly 80% of the general population, account for about 20% of the observed decrease in affiliation.

Please keep in mind that “correlation” does not equal “causation.” Correlations show patterns that we must connect to other knowledge, evidence, and observations.

What Accounts for the Other 45%?

Given there are 75 million non-believers, what other trends might account for the startling growth in numbers? If we follow Downey’s study and assume upbringing, education, and the internet can account for 55% of the increase, what else accounts for the other 45% (33.7 million people)?

Is it the growth of the scientific outlook? That’s possible, given that only 9% of Americans believed in pure evolution in 1982 and the total has more than doubled to 19% in 2014 (according to Gallup). However, it is likely a good chunk of that 19% is accounted for in the 55% of Downey’s study?

Could the increases be attributed to the various “New Atheist” books published in the past few years? Recent works include: Sam Harris’ The End of Faith (2004), Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004), Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (2006), Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell (2006), Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great (2007), and Victor Stenger’s God: the Failed Hypothesis (2007). These books might have had marginal influence on creating more non-believers, but my guess is that most of the readers of these books were already atheists. Plus, the sales of these books are dwarfed by the audience size of Ancient Aliens.

As dramatized in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the monolith was the indisputable artifact left on Earth by advanced extraterrestrials. Ancient Aliens hijacked this concept and dumbed it down to the lowest possible level, while filling the intellectual void left by the death of philosophy long divorced from cosmology.

The Rise of Ancient Alien Theory: Hijacking the 2001 and Apollo Narratives

Published at the pinnacle of the space age in 1968, Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods? hijacked the space narrative from Apollo and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey2001 appeared in 1968, along with Planet of the Apes, Apollo 8 (the first journey to the moon), and Chariots of the Gods?. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 as von Daniken’s book was becoming popular around the world. Chariots of the Gods? did what few other works tried (outside of a few episodes of the original Star Trek): it connected human destiny on Earth to the stars we were beginning to explore with the Apollo program. As I wrote in my previous essay about ancient-alien theory:

“The ancient-astronaut theory draws upon two valid cosmological concepts: 1) the reality of the immensity of space and time; and 2) the possibility of advanced civilizations somewhere in the cosmos. Given that the scale of the observable universe is immense and that NASA’s Kepler telescope suggests there may be billions of planets in the Milky Way, there is almost certainly life elsewhere in the cosmos, perhaps including intelligent civilizations.”

“Given that the observable universe is 13.7 billion years old and it took 4 billion years for intelligent life to emerge on Earth, then it is possible the remaining 9 billion years produced civilizations that may have existed for millions or billions of years. If so, they may have developed space travel technologies that allow them to traverse the great distances with relative ease…Such a possibility is one reason why 2001 offers such a compelling vision of human origins and destinies. After all, it would be an epochal moment to find a black monolith somewhere on Earth or the moon, beaming out a radio signal to an alert and curious species.”

Such a possibility is attractive, at least in theory. If ancient aliens have visited our planet, they would have possessed highly advanced sciences and technologies. They would have been viewed as gods, angels, and miracle makers by premodern humans, who would have looked upon the beings and technologies with awe, wonder, and fear.

A 1970s-style Captain Kirk got in on the ancient alien narrative, too.

Since Chariots of the Gods? was a huge best-seller, it was made into a documentary film, Chariots of the Gods (1970). Creator of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling even narrated a one-hour TV version called In Search of Ancient Astronauts (1973). A copycat version of the film, Mysteries of the Gods, was released in 1976—hosted by none other than William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk, looking rather hip in a green turtleneck and black velour blazer, while sporting a 1970s-style toupée. With films and TV shows as publicity, Chariots of the Gods? sold over 40 million copies during the 1970s.

Without a doubt, 2001Planet of the Apes, and von Daniken’s book and films were trying to account for human origins and destiny at the pinnacle of the space age and the Apollo program. When I first encountered Chariots of the Gods? as a boy in the suburbs of Texas in the 1970s, it seemed like a plausible counter-narrative to the self-righteous evangelicals in my school and neighborhood. As explained here, I eventually began to question the validity of the assertions and realized the ancient-alien theory was bogus pseudoscience. To be frank, I was kinda bummed out. But, logic and evidence mattered more to me. Still do.

Of course, there were mainstream media efforts to debunk Chariots of the Gods? These included a 1976 Skeptical Inquirer article, a book entitled The Space Gods Revealed that featured a forward by Carl Sagan, and a BBC-PBS production of Nova (the episode “The Case of the Ancient Astronauts”). Nevertheless, the book’s pseudoscientific ideas continued to circulate around the world in the decades that featured the rise of non-belief in the wake of Apollo. Given that Chariots of the Gods? sold 40 million copies, can we assume it had zero impact on traditional religious beliefs?

In 2009, a two-part episode of Ancient Aliens appeared on the History Channel. So popular was the show that the History Channel programmed the Ancient Alien series, which began in 2010 and is still running every season—134 episodes and counting! As point of comparison for the atheist programs, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 2014 Cosmos reboot only had 13 episodes and seems to appear on TV far less often than Ancient Aliens. I have seen both series listed in Netflix. Why would Ancient Aliens far outstrip Cosmos if the issue was merely a scientific outlook?

The prime-time episodes of Ancient Aliens draw well over one million viewers, plus there are endless repeats during days and evenings. These audiences are far larger than anything on the Science Channel. Who knows how many millions of viewers have seen the various episodes of Ancient AliensAmong the 45% and 33 million non-believers unaccounted for in Downey’s study, how many millions might be fans of Ancient Aliens? I don’t know but it is a question worth considering. I bet the total is far from zero. After all, recent surveys show that 35% of Americans believe aliens have visited Earth in the ancient past (see the Chapman surveys below).

Still going strong almost 50 years after Chariots of the Gods?.

The Ancient Aliens series features fanciful storytelling, with many scenes shot at the various remote sites where “evidence” of ancient aliens supposedly exists. Still, it’s all pseudoscientific nonsense—simply because there are no proven artifacts of extraterrestrial origin. There is no academic conspiracy against the ancient-alien theorists as implied in the narration and comments of the talking heads. What’s needed is proven evidence, as cleverly suggested by the monolith in 2001. But we haven’t discovered a monolith or the “chariots.” I wish we had.

In Chariots of the Gods?Mysteries of the Gods, and Ancient Aliens, virtually all of the so-called evidence and arguments provided by the theorists are myth, superstition, hearsay, anecdotal, or involve an inference or conclusion that is fallacious, implausible, or unknowable. The “evidence” and arguments also contain inaccuracies, mistaken assumptions, unrelated facts, and false similarities. The few remaining pieces of “evidence” — which are a tiny fragment of the absurd claims — are simply mysteries yet to be solved or mysteries that will never be solved. One might say this is also a key point in the cultural emergence of “alternative facts.”

Ancient Aliens: A New Cosmic Religion

But the pseudoscience, endless fallacies, and alternative facts have not prevented the multi-season programming of the television series. Even if the History Channel decided against renewing the series, it would run for decades in syndication and for eternity online, at least until real extraterrestrials arrived or we finishing wrecking the planet.

According to Chapman University, the belief in ancient aliens is growing rapidly: from 20% in 2015 to 35% in 2017.

Chariots of the Gods? and Ancient Aliens have given birth to new cosmic religion narrative, with von Daniken as the great prophet and his followers serving as the scribes—Giorgio Tsoukalos, Graham Hancock, David Childress, and others. Like God and his prophets, the unseen aliens have superpowers and have shaped our past and perhaps our destiny, especially if they return. The ancient alien narrative is like the standard Creator narratives, in that it assumes most everything humans have done follows from pre-ordained grand plans, with mysterious or hidden purposes, effected by an all-powerful force from the sky, a force that has yet to return to prove it exists. Like the Creator narrative, we humans must have been special beneficiaries. After all, the ancient aliens have taken the time to visit our tiny planet, thus caring enough to allegedly build stone structures, design ancient batteries, create cool statuettes, and paint pictographs before cruising to the next galaxy or star system.

Despite (or because of) the pseudoscience, the ancient alien theorists are doing a far better job of connecting humanity to the cosmos than Hollywood filmmakers and contemporary philosophers. The ancient-alien theorists have a fervant audience of followers who feel the theory connects our origins and destinies to the stars. Meanwhile, Hollywood merely sends us into space to wage Star Wars and battle Alien monsters.

All of the above is why I predict the ancient-alien narrative will continue to grow over time, precisely because it is filled with mystical and magical beliefs that mirror religious mythologies. Ancient Aliens makes us feel special—just like Jesus, ETs came to visit us and advise us. After hijacking the 2001narrative, von Daniken and his scribes have built the ancient-astronaut theory into a new religion, a new cosmic narrative filling the void left by contemporary philosophy as it shrinks before a massive and expanding universe. Meanwhile, secular society provides us with mobile phones and IMAX movies, and says we and our tribes are special—so super-special that superheroes will save us in case the aliens don’t make it back in time.

Superheroes: Our Secular Gods

Born of Nietzsche’s 19th century “Ubermensch,” the superhero emerged to counter horiffic “supermen” of the 20th century — the Marxist New Man and the Nazi Aryan man. By the early 20th century, the Soviet Union promised to create the Marxist New Man, the new human supposedly liberated from capitalism and united via communism and “scientific” materialism, supposedly destined to operate on an international scale. Countering the Marxist New Man, Nazi Germany concocted a racist Aryan Man, a mythical superman from the past supposedly destined to rule Europe and much of the world. Of course, both of these visions of a “new man” resulted in genocide and mass slaughter in totalitarian societies, culminating in World War II and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people before, during, and after the war.

In America’s land of a mythic “Democratic Man,” the only “superman” would be Superman, Batman, and subsequent legions of superheroes to save us in comics and movies. Though superheroes are fictional, their stories draw on real world events, such as nuclear weapons and environmental destruction. Superheroes function like secular gods providing stories about humanity’s survival and redemption in the face of apocalypse. In the end credits for The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), we see a giant sculpture of the Avenger superheroes, as if they are a pantheon of gods from Ancient Greece or Rome.

Pantheon of Secular Gods. Above: Statue of The Avengers from The Age of Ultron. Below: Justice League Superheroes

Superhero films have proven especially popular in the 21st century, with a trendline that mirrors the rise of non-belief in America.

Well into the 21st century, the superhero films just keep coming from Hollywood. Be it Superman, Batman, X-Men, Wonder Woman, or The Avengers, it seems almost all superhero films feature superheroes confronting a doomsday scenario for humanity. The superheroes must “save the world” because we can’t do it. Just as ancient-aliens fills the void left by philosophy divorced from science, superheroes fill the void left because industrial society has become divorced from nature, yet it is utterly reliant on the resources we are depleting. Oceans are acidifying, sea levels are rising, and nuclear war is still a possibility, while terrorism, exploitation, and endless tribal warfare plague secular society. Superheroes are needed to save us from ourselves because we know we have no answers, no real solutions for our problems, no leaders or institutions left to trust. It’s the same thing, over and over again, as illustrated in presidential elections.

In the 21st century, Americans expect their presidents to be superheroes battling the doomsday scenarios of the other party—thus we give the presidents ever-expanded political and legal powers, as if we are trying to give them superpowers and make them into superheroes with super solutions. Both major parties do it. Don’t deny it. When the dictator arrives in America, it will be in the guise of a presidential superhero with political superpowers. As Trump has shown, the superhero prez won’t even need to be rational or coherent or even sane. They just need to be superheroes who zap the bad guys. This is what happens when religion and nationalism merge with Hollywood and the 24/7 media spectacle.

In superhero movies and sequels, the superheroes must return to save us, again and again. Ancient-alien theorists claim extraterrestrial visitors shaped our past, present, and perhaps our future when they return. The return of aliens and superheroes echoes the promised return of Jesus and Nietzsche’s cycle of the eternal return, the superhero feedback loop. Ancient aliens and superheroes have superpowers beyond anything humans have, not unlike the Gods and prophets in religions. In the end, superheroes are our secular Gods and fulfill functions formerly reserved for religion, while ancient-alien theory claims to offer a secular narrative that connects us to the stars, yet ends up as another religion—a merger of the space age and new age.

Superhero stories and ancient-alien theory now stand in for contemporary philosophy, divorced from 21st century cosmology and declared “dead” by Stephen Hawking. In the absence of a science-based popular philosophy that offers us hope, meaning, and purpose (beyond tribalism, consumerism, and strip-mining other planets) amid the cosmic vastness, the ancient-alien theory provides hope and meaning by connecting our origins and destiny to a story that begins in the stars—even it is in a universe of alternative facts.

How much of the decline of traditional religious belief can be attributed to the rise of ancient alien theory? I don’t know, but given this analysis, I bet it is far from zero. This possibility is why the traditional religions will try to colonize the ancient-alien theory. Already, one prominent religious leader suggests we baptize extraterrestrials upon meeting them. If the ancient aliens do show up and don’t believe in a Creator, we might well need the superheroes to save us from a religious war in space!

_____________

Barry Vacker is author of the new book, Specter of the Monolith (2017), which explores the meaning of Apollo and films like 2001 and Interstellar, while outlining a new and entirely original space philosophy for the human species. The book is available in Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble (here), and Amazon (here).

Source medium.com

 

 

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Spirituality

From light to darkness: A woman suffered clinical death and spoke about the journey to hell

The woman described the sensations during clinical death after a drug overdose. This is reported by the Express edition.

A patient named Francine stated that she took a trip to hell. She wrote about this to the Posthumous Experience Research Foundation after she suffered clinical death.

“I swam above my body and watched them try to revive me. Suddenly I was surrounded by terrible creatures whom I call “dark angels”. They spoke in rhyme: “From light to darkness.” I don’t remember the rest of the rhyme,” she said. 

According to Francine, dark entities tore her to pieces until she became nothing.

After death, not everyone goes to the coffin. Some choose to drown in alkali

“We literally flew through the halls of the hospital and onto the roof. Then I ended up in hell and lay on my back. I heard the screams of other souls and their pain. An evil entity interrogated me, and it seemed like an eternity. She wanted to know what I believed in and who I worshiped,” the woman admitted.

Francine explained that at first she was very scared, but then she stopped obeying the demons and persuaded them to return her. 

“I told them that I believed in Jesus and I don’t think he would hurt me. Then I suddenly left hell,” she said.

After that, the dark entities showed Francine her entire life path and drew her attention to all the mistakes she made in life. “This revision was so detailed that they even showed moments when I looked at someone the wrong way. I was shown how my behavior hurt others, and I realized that I needed to love others more,” the clinical death survivor explained.

In the final moment, the woman felt herself in the bosom of her mother. 

“It was very calm until I was born. I was reminded of the evil of the world when the doctor who delivered my birth thought, “Here’s another little whore.” I heard this and it was very sad. After that I lived my life, died and was reborn thousands of times. This infinity was a real hell and I wanted it to stop,” Francine said.

Some researchers believe that what the patient describes is a normal phenomenon, and such an experience does not necessarily mean that the person has seen heaven, hell, or life after death. “This may be happening when the brain scans itself as a survival technique,” said Dr. Sam Parnia, director of resuscitation and revitalization research at Langon School of Medicine in New York.

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Spirituality

Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook – the Woman Who Talked to Ghosts

Photo: Getty Images

The numerous stories about mediums and psychics are often dubious, but the story of Florence Cook led people to believe that ghosts live among us. Who the famous London clairvoyant really was, and how she managed to achieve such success?

Photo # 1 - Between Worlds: The Story of Florence Cook - a Woman Who Talked to Ghosts

The name Florence Cook is firmly embedded in the history of spiritualism – all the inhabitants of the United Kingdom of the 19th century knew about her experiments, and not only prominent scientists of that time were interested in her activities, but also writers, psychologists and even members of royal families. We tell the story of a legendary medium who was able to prove to people that death is just an intermediate stage between the past and the present.

The future legend of spiritualism was born on June 3, 1856 in one of the north-east boroughs of London. Her family belonged to the middle class – her father was engaged in construction, and her mother was a housewife. From childhood, Florence showed her psychic abilities – according to her mother, the girl from an early age had the ability to feel spirits, which often frightened others.

However, the first time that Florence was able to demonstrate her talents in full force, was an incident that occurred in 1870 – then a group of Florence’s classmates gathered in the Cook house, who decided to hold a session of spiritualism called table turning. At the beginning, the girl did not want to take part in the process, fearing the possible consequences, but her mother, who supported her daughter, allowed her to prove herself. Sitting at the table, young Florence was able to establish contact with the ghost in a matter of minutes, as a result of which the table, which was a conductor for their communication, began to spin at an unimaginable speed, and then rose into the air with Cook herself.

Florence Cook (c.1856-1904) was an English medium who claimed to materialise a spirit named Katie King. Seen here in later life, sitting in a garden with a dog on her lap. Date: circa late 19th century

Florence Cook

This incident marked the beginning of Florence’s career – since then, residents of London, who knew about her extraordinary abilities, began to regularly contact her. However, the more often Cook conducted spiritualistic seances, the more her strength grew, and the process itself often began to go beyond security – for example, once during a seance, Florence soared in the air, and the ghosts completely undressed her in the presence of participants in the process.

After this incident, the girl’s mother insisted on establishing certain safety rules – from that moment on, Florence began to receive visitors exclusively in the dining room of their house. During the sessions, the medium herself was inside a huge wardrobe – the girl tied herself to a chair in order to remain motionless in a trance state, while clients were outside and communicated with the spirits through a small hole made in the closet door.

Very soon Florence had influential admirers – members of wealthy families who turned to Cook for help, tried in every possible way to thank her for the work done. Some simply paid generously for the sessions, others did advertisements for her, but the most grateful was the lawyer Charles Blackburn – after contacting Florence, he provided her with an annual allowance, which allowed the medium to fully focus on his own activities and conduct sessions for free, without thinking about the monetary side of the issue.

In 1872, a spirit appeared in Cook’s practice, which glorified her not only throughout London, but throughout the United Kingdom. During one of the sessions, a ghost appeared in front of Florence, calling himself Cathy King. According to her, she was the daughter of the famous pirate Henry Morgan and returned to the earthly world to pay for the sins she committed during her lifetime.

Since then, Katie has become a regular guest at Cook’s sessions, and a few months later, more than half of Londoners already knew her. They described the ghost as a small white spot that, with each new appearance, took on more and more human form, filling with ectoplasm. Already at the end of April 1872, clients of the medium could see Cathy in the guise of a woman in white robes, whose image did not in any way give out a ghost in her.

This phenomenon became a whole event for the residents of London – Florence Cook was recognized as a genius of materialization, and the number of her clients grew every day. At the same time, the power of the medium also grew – a year after the first appearance of the famous spirit King, Cook was able to achieve her full presence in the world of the living – now visitors could not only touch Cathy, but even photograph her with a flash, which was previously considered impossible by representatives of spiritualism.

However, there were also those who did not believe in Florence’s ability and passionately dreamed of her exposure. One of such people was the lawyer William Folkman, who decided at all costs to expose the medium. During his session, he abruptly jumped up and grabbed the hand of the ghost of Katie King, wanting to prove that she was Florence in disguise. However, Folkman’s plans were not destined to come true – instead of the long-awaited exposure, he saw an angry spirit literally dissolve in front of his eyes, and when he opened the cabinet door, he found Cook unconscious, tied to a chair.

Florence Cook, Katie King and William Crookes

As the assistants of the medium present in the house later reported, William Folkman provoked the so-called ectoplasmic stroke, a phenomenon in which the sudden interference of an outsider in a spiritualistic session provokes too rapid “absorption” of the energy released by the ghost into the medium’s body, which is fraught with serious mental and physical disorders. and sometimes death.

Fortunately, Florence managed to avoid serious consequences – after this incident, it took her only a few weeks to recover, and rumors about the reality of Katie King’s ghost only attracted new clients to Cook’s house, and also drew attention to her activities of one of the prominent scientists of that time.

Upon learning of the incident at Florence’s home, renowned scientist William Crookes decided to collaborate with Cook. He bought an apartment for her in London and began to regularly participate in her seances. When he first saw Katie King’s spirit, he immediately checked where the medium was at the moment the ghost appeared, and found that she was sitting motionless in her place while Katie wandered around the room.

To prove the reality of what is happening, Crookes began to attract outside observers to his work and tighten the conditions for the sessions. So, Florence began to be tied more tightly to her chair, in the room where she was, it was decided to leave the “onlookers”, and once one of the participants in the process even tied Cook’s hair around a nail nailed to the floor, but all these measures did not prevent the medium from establishing contact with Katy – the spirit continued to regularly appear at meetings with representatives of the earthly world.

The famous writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also mentioned this phenomenon in his works – in the book “History of Spiritualism” the author explains that in the beginning Cathy’s face strongly resembled the appearance of Florence herself, which often became the subject of controversy and all kinds of manipulations:

“This phenomenon is one of the mysteries of materialization, requiring study, not ridicule. The faces of ghosts that have only recently appeared in our world often resemble the faces of mediums. This is explained by the fact that the spiritual shell of the medium becomes the basis for the embodiment of the essence of the spirit, however, when they gain their own strength, their true faces are also manifested “

In addition, some researchers even managed to study the physical characteristics of the ghost of Katie King. One of the observers measured the pulse of the spirit, which was 75 beats per minute (while Florence’s pulse at the same moment was 90 beats per minute), and the other allegedly was able to cut off a strand of Katy’s hair – they were golden, and Cook was a bright brown-haired woman …

Florence Cook during a seance

However, the main evidence of the existence of the ghost was the photographs that Crookes regularly took during the sessions. The scientist managed to take about 60 pictures, some of which were attended by Florence and Katie at the same time. Unfortunately, only a few of them have survived to this day, and skeptics argued that the footage was indistinct and could not serve as real proof of the existence of the spirit.

One way or another, everything ended in May 1874. During one of the sessions, Katie approached Florence and addressed her with parting words, saying that it was “time for her to leave.” When Cook regained consciousness, she suffered a terrible tantrum, and when Crooks was able to calm the woman, King’s ghost was no longer in the room. This was the last time they saw the famous spirit.

After that, Florence’s life changed a lot. She left her career, married and moved to Wales, where she was engaged in housekeeping. However, six years later, Cook again returned to her former hobby, presenting the residents to the ghost of a certain Mary.

In 1880, during another spiritualistic seance, one of the participants decided to test the reality of the presented spirit and grabbed Mary’s hand, at the same time opening the curtain behind which Florence was. To the surprise of those present, the room of the medium was empty, and the “ghost” was Mrs. Cook herself. This scandal took on a very large-scale character, and Florence’s reputation was hopelessly damaged. True, most of her supporters believed that the deception on the part of the medium was not intentional – according to them, this phenomenon may be due to the state of trance, in which the summoned ghosts have power over the body of the medium.

Florence herself was extremely upset by the failure and henceforth conducted sessions only in the presence of an outside observer who was next to her at the time of immersion in a state of trance. But this did not help restore her reputation – people no longer believed that Cook could speak to the spirits of the dead. Florence spent the last years of her life in solitude, communicating only with her husband. She died in 1904 as a result of developing pneumonia. After her death, William Crookes sent a telegram to her husband, in which he expressed his sincere condolences, and also noted her incredible contribution to the development of spiritualism:

“I express my deepest condolences for the irreparable loss, and I also want to say that thanks to the mediumship of Mrs. Cook, the confidence that those we love continue to live and look at us from heaven has grown in my heart. And I am sincerely grateful to her for that “

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Spirituality

Statue of Virgin Mary ‘weeping blood’ in Italy

Italians are flocking to pray to a Virgin Mary statue after a child spotted it “crying tears of blood”. The incident was reported from Paolino Arnesano Square in the small town of Carmiano, Lecce.

The “Weeping Blood” statue of the Virgin Mary in Piazza Paolino Arnesano in Carmiano, Italy, attracted crowds of religious people who came to see the miracle:

Un nuovo rivolo lacrimale, sempre dallo stesso occhio, poco fa secondo i fedeli presenti ha segnato nuovamente il volto della Madonnina in piazza Paolino Arnesano.

Gepostet von Andrea Vivi Citta am Dienstag, 4. August 2020

Carmiano is a small town in the province of Lecce, but after people learned about the miracle, the whole city first came to see it, and now many pilgrims from other cities arrived.

Riccardo Calabrese, a priest of the Church of Sant Antoni Abate, said it was unclear if the incident was “a miracle, the result of warm weather at the moment, or worst of all, someone’s joke.”

“All the time I was next to the statue, I saw a procession of people who, out of curiosity or faith, left their homes to gather there. I saw children, teenagers, adults, and elderly people meeting at our beloved Virgin Mary statue, and they all looked up at her face,” Calabrese was quoted as saying by The Sun.

The local newspaper Repubblica reported that the Bishop of Lecce announced that the church would conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.

Organizing all sorts of “miracles” is a traditional family business for priests: they constantly announce crying icons and statues, or some other miracles. Therefore, there is no trust in them – especially if, to calm the public, they declare the incident a joke or write off everything as a result of a heat wave. Now times have changed and if earlier the priests organized “miracles” to control the sheep, now they explain the miracles “scientifically” so that the flock would not worry. 

Carmiano is not just a town, but a town that has developed around a Christian commune. We do not know the details of the doctrine of this commune, but, as Wikipedia writes, the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is considered a special holiday for the local community, which falls on August 15 among Catholics. And it must have coincided that just on the eve of the holiday, among the many statues, it was the statue of the Virgin Mary that wept. 

There are no such coincidences in nature and it is absolutely unambiguous about a miracle, or more precisely, we are talking about a sign, a horrible sign. 

We do not know what awaits Italy. Maybe there will be some kind of geological catastrophe, maybe Italy will again become the focus of some kind of pandemic, maybe Italy will face a war related to the current conflicts in the Mediterranean. However, the catastrophe may be of a cosmic scale. 

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