I was recently interviewed for the popular Criminal podcast on the shady business of the “ghost racket” – the early 20th century scam of using mind games and magic tricks to convince bereaved people that spiritualistic “mediums” could contact the spirits of the dead. Among other things, we discuss the friendship (and then bitter rivalry) … Read more“The Ghost Racket Crusade”
Established in 1990 and on hold (in its full form) until the abeyance of the COVID-19 crisis, Tucson’s All Souls Procession remains a grassroots community festival of memorial and celebration. This short video offers a glimpse back into its history.
On the evening of November 16 (US time), Morbid Anatomy will be hosting a live Zoom presentation of the antique seance/ghost show props I inherited from my dad’s magic collection: The eschatological crises of the First World War and the 1918 influenza pandemic sparked a massive revival of the practice of Spiritualist séances. Whereas some … Read moreUnboxing an Antique Ghost Show (Plus an Illustrated History of Spookological Fakery for Fun and Profit)
This massive touring festival event has been a sell-out smash in the UK for several years, though of course it’s currently on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Festival of the Dead offers a cross-cultural mash-up of secular Dia de Muertos-inspired aesthetics with new circus/new burlesque performance styles; not what you’d call “deep” in comparison with … Read moreFestival of the Dead in the UK
Here’s a gallery of atmospheric video memoirs from the Atlas Obscura’s semi-annual Into The Veil events, which have been staged at the arts-friendly Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NYC and also at Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.
In Starhawk’s ecotopian novel The Fifth Sacred Thing (1994), the pacifistic, neoPagan residents of San Francisco in the year 2048 must endure and somehow prevail over an invasion by the militaristic Stewards from the South Lands. As part of a multifaceted strategy, the San Franciscans conjure the ritual of “haunting”, in which the friends and … Read moreMaya Greenwood Embodies the Reaper
Art Garfunkel’s song Bright Eyes, from the 1979 film adaptation of Watership Down. Author Richard Adams, who wrote the original novel, developed a fascinating matrix of “Lapine” language and a rich mythology, including tales of the Black Rabbit of Inlé. The Black Rabbit serves Lord Frith – essentially a deification of the sun – by … Read more“The Black Rabbit serves Lord Frith, but he does no more than his appointed task.”
This post lists some selected “further learning” resources for participants in my Unboxing an Antique Ghost Show presentation via the Atlas Obscura’s Wonders at Home video lecture series. Busting the Ghost Racket Houdini’s Girl Detective: The Real-Life Ghost-Busting Adventures of Rose Mackenberg (2016) I compiled, edited, introduced and republished this anthology of the fabulous Rose … Read moreFurther Resources re. “Unboxing an Antique Ghost Show”
Vox Media offers an easy-to-digest capsule of rational reasons why many people believe in (and sometimes believe that they’ve seen) ghosts, including a short interview with skeptical investigator Joe Nickell. Like Mr. Nickell, Harry Houdini, Rose Mackenberg and numerous others over the past century-and-a-bit, I’ve found no persuasive evidence of ghosts; and, as much as … Read more“Why People Think They See Ghosts”