Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hacked!

Sorry I have not updated, my computer recently bit the dust! I should have one new post before Christmas!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Interview weekend!

Back in the 70's I was called a turkey on many occasion. Yeah, I am dated. But perhaps this fowl reference harkens as to why I have been asked to do 2 blogtalk interviews this weekend before Thanksgiving!

First up is Saturday night 10-11PM with Spooky Southcast. Topics will include 2012 and general strangeness.

Next is Sunday night 10-12 with Beyond the Edge Radio. One of the hosts, Eric Altman and I were two of the special guests of the Erie Horrorfest this year. He is the Director of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society and one of the nicest guys I have ever met.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2012 and the Coming Apocalypse


Montanus was a former priest of Cybele. A recent convert to Christianity, he began his ministry as a prophet and mouthpiece for God during the late 2nd Century in the small village of Ardabau in Phrygia (Asia Minor-Modern Day Turkey).
He claimed that God came to him and filled Him with His Spirit, causing ecstatic utterances and prophecies. He gathered to himself two others who proclaimed to have the same gift, Maxamillia and Priscilla, and the two of them went about Asia Minor proclaiming that God Himself was speaking through them and the end of the world was nigh. As his message of Apocalypse spread across the world, Montanus commanded his followers to gather together in the city of Pepuza, which (according to his prophecies) would become the New Jerusalem after the global conflagration. His followers obeyed and came to him in this new city of hope and awaited the appointed time. But the end of the world did not happen. Some were dissapointed, but some still 'girded their loins' in determination and continued to believe in the prophecies of Montanus. Later the prophet would be condemned as a heretic for various bizarre teachings, the foremost being that he proclaimed to be God the Father Himself when he made his prophecies, and not just a prophet indwelt with the Spirit of God.

For us today in the early 21st century the dire mystery of the 2012 Apocalypse prediction looms menacingly. I will not go into any of the theory, I am sure most of the readers have heard of it and the multitude of substatiating 'facts' that surround this view that the world will end on December 21st 2012. You do not even have to do any research, you just have to watch the History Channel regularly to get the full rundown. Myan Calander interpretation, planetary and galaxy alignments, solar storms, climate change, economic disaster and an upcoming volitile Presidential election all seem to point to a very rough time is to come near the end of 2012.

It seems as if someone flushed an M80 firecracker down the cosmic toilet and we are all waiting for the big explosion.

Of course when there is fear with potential death and mayhem Hollywood can't but be drawn to the fire and produce an epic movie where all our previous fears pale to the technicolor global holocaust that assaults our eyes in a darkened movie theater. So this weekend as the epic opens we are also bombarded by various news monkeys who have just discovered that the world will end soon. Of course almost all of them do not take the source material for the movie seriously. But with most reports you do see an ominous tension.

I think it is because socially we feel like we are all teetering on the edge of the abyss, and are waiting for something to push us over.

Many are overwhelmingly pessimistic because of the dire straits they find themselves in. Be it economic trouble, environmental worries or social and political disdain, many find themselves gripped by a fear that the worst is yet to come. We are communally holding our breath and waiting for what we feel is inevitable, hoping that we are wrong.

So the end of the world is a natural conclusion, not just because of the substantiating evidence of the 2012 theory, but because of the global angst we all perceive.

But such is the human condition. Since the dawn of civilization mankind has been waiting for the dusk to overwhelm them in darkness.

A clay tablet dated at 2800BC was found that has the inscription "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common."Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts

Since then humanity has faced the coming apocalypse thousands of times, mostly fired by social or religious motivation. An incredible resource for those who wish to study the history of Doomsday is found on the website A Brief History of the Apocalypse, where you can view each failed prediction chronologically.

Armageddon for good or ill is hardwired into our human consciousness. Prognosticators and those who diligently follow are part of who we are as human beings. It is a means to find order out of the chaos that surrounds us. There will always be a coming apocalypse. And one day there will be an end of the world. How will we know which one is the real end? Christian Scripture can shed some light on that. In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 the Disciples ask Jesus how they will know when the end is near:

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them- “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.-the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:3b-4a;36;44b.

So safe to say from a Christian perspective is that whenever a 'prophet' or anyone else claims to know the exact date or time that the world is going to end, you can rest assured that that will not be the day or time. There might be incidents of trouble, disaster or tribulation. But such is life on the planet Earth. Looking at the dilemmas brewing worldwide, we may face unprecedented challenges for freedom, liberty and survival on a global scale in the years preceding and following 2012.

The Mayan calendar does stop in December 21 2012; but then it starts all over again.
It has a new beginning.

Like any situation we find ourselves in we can look at the end pessimistically, or in hope we can look at the new beginning with optimism and take advantage of a new opportunity.

Mankind grows and flourishes when faced with trouble, for it is a challenge to overcome which brings with it personal and communal character.
In the words of Captain James T. Kirk, "Man stagnates if he has no ambition...We were meant to fight our way through - struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way."

So whatever befalls us on Friday December 21, 2012- Saturday the 22nd will prove to be a most exciting day.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Eye of the Watcher


Throughout the history of mankind the eye has provoked the most primal of responses.

It is not surprising, for having a disturbing feeling that you are being watched by unseen eyes is basic to most all living things. Through eons the unease at the presence of a fixated iris has been passed on from generation to generation until the actual sight of an eye upon you is naught but the confirmation of what the rest of your body is telling you.

You are being watched.

It is the feeling of being prey. It is a learned trait that has been passed on to future generations for survival in a cruel and violent world.

Sometimes this natural response to the predator/prey instinct seems preternatural.

You cannot explain it,but you know you are being watched.

I am sure most of you have experienced that hair raising feeling of being watched by unseen eyes. You don't know why, but you know there are eyes upon you.

Perhaps some of you are feeling that sensation now.

In our modern times with Internet communication, and the proliferation of hackers and government oversight, it is a fact that there are unseen eyes upon you, watching your every move.

You are being watched.

Sometimes though, you do not have that unsettling feeling of being watched while sitting in the glow of a monitor alone in some secluded room. No. It is while you are at work, or at play. It is while you were taking that leisurely walk in the woods that lie not far from your home.

You could swear you were being watched.

There is an eye upon you.

What is the intent of that elusive watcher out of nowhere?

Is it something that plans your destruction; are you the prey for a superior predator that is merely stalking you?

Or is it something else?

History is also abounding with references to an 'all seeing eye'. From the beginning of human culture, religious iconography has been imbued with an eye symbol. Be it Wedjat (the ancient Egyptian eye of Horus), The third or inner eye of Eastern Mysticism or the Western eye of providence; the symbol of the eye often connoted deeply spiritual truths for the follower. The believer was either protected from evil, the object of divine oversight or imbued with deep spiritual knowledge or wisdom.

The eye symbolizes an active presence.

There are also folklore traditions of the malevolent eye gazing upon you, wishing you ill will. The most popular of these instances is the curse of the evil eye. A person of magical power is said to have the ability to curse with but a look from their eyes. This belief spans many millenia and cultures; it often spawns the production of various amulets or counter hexes to ward off the evil power of the dark enchantment.

So historically there are many meanings to the symbol of a watching eye. However to many in our culture today the symbol of the disembodied eye conjures a creepy and loathsome feeling of menace. Perhaps it is the ancient fear of the watching predator or pop culture referencing such as the evil eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings.

Of course it would be very disconcerting if one would encounter an actual disembodied eye in real life.

Moreso if you discover the eye is connected with a phenomena that you have been trying to explain, and something you have put off as a hallucination or signs of old age or disease.

And greater the perplexity of the situation if the phenomena occured in a church.

I have referenced the church that I attend here on this blog numerous times. After many investigations by various local paranormal groups St. Paul's United Church of Christ here in downtown Erie has officially been declared haunted by at least two groups. It has been featured on local news stations and was host to a paranormal tour this Halloween season. One of the videos caught at the church will also be featured in an upcoming episode of the new show Ghost Lab.

This past Halloween night Erie County Paranormal once again investigated the church. As a Church Council Memeber I sat with them while they did the investigation. Usually when I have my turn at hosting the church for an investigation I catch up on my reading (or sleeping!) in the Pastor's Study. However, this time I thought I would join in on the fun and stationed myself in the santuary with a camera and digital recorder. I sat in the back pew and sang hymns and prayed hoping to perhaps catch an occasional voice that might sing alone. Alas, there were no such phantom voices on my digital recorder after the night. However, it was a very strange night to say the least.

Throughout the night I was seeing tiny flashes of light all over the Santcuary. Like tiny pinpoints flares of a flashlight quickly turning on and off at various areas in the air. There were white ones and red ones. None of these seemed to have an outside source. It was if they appeared and dissapeared out of nowhere.

This was not the first time I had experienced this phenomena at the church. Last year while talking with the leader of the same team in the church's fellowship hall, we both experienced the blinking tiny lights floating in mid air. At that time we both chocked it up to being near a high electro magnetic field that was on the other side of the hall. We thought we were halucinating.

This previous Halloween though, I saw this phenomena while in the midst of others who did not notice it. I again counted it up to either hallucination or old age. Later in the night though as two of the groups members sat across the sanctuary in the chior loft, the lights began to occur more frequently. And one of the other members saw them as well. All night I had been taking photos wth my digital camera, and I tried to see if I could catch these lights on camera. Luckily, and to my astonishment, I did. Here is the photo:

The most obvious explanation for this photo is that it is an orb, and therefore a piece of dust reflected from the camera light. I did catch many orbs in the church that night, in fact there is an orb in this same photo-almost in the exact center. However all the orbs I caught were the common phantom half lit circle. This object is very bright, appears very high in the ceiling (50 ft) and oval in shape. And it is exactly what I had been witnessing all night. Bright tiny oval flashes. I was curious what I would find if I magnified the flash to see if I could make out the image more clearly. to my surprise I caught this:

Take a closer look at the enlargement:



At first I was a little disturbed. My mind raced back to Lovecraftian Literature and to the vivid images of August Derleth where the ancient evil ones constantly observes the Earth waiting for the eventual invasion of the ancient evil horde and he total destruction of mankind.


But a much better esoteric explanation can be found within Scripture itself.

Revelation 6:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

This verse describes the Angels of God before His throne.

Angels are not only God's messengers, they are also God's eyes over the Earth. Not limiting His omnipresence, they observe with a distinct free will and compassion that is their own. Perhaps the eyes of light were snapshots of a sort. Just as I was trying to capture the otherworldy within the church with my digital eye, perhaps the beings of the otherworld were capturing what was happening in our material realm with their supernatural eyes.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Presque Isle UFO video Presentation


Part of my seminar series at this years Erie Horror Film Festival was a multimedia presentation of local true tales of terror. One of the stories highlighted was the Presque Isle UFO encounter in the 1960s.

You can find the video on my Examiner page:
The Presque Isle UFO of 1966

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Lurkers in Twilight


















Steve was a normal rugged boy at the age of twelve, an ourdoorsman in the making. Like the other boys that lived in his country setting he divided the time he had left over from school and chores with hobbies and adventure.

The thrill of adventure that stirred Steve's young heart was that of exploration. He certainly was born in the right place to fulfill his quest for adventure, for he was surrounded by miles of wilderness with strong flowing streams that cut deep crevasses in the ancient Alleghany mountains.

There were many abandoned settlements dotting the overgrown landscape, the land lost to Indian was in an era lost to time; or to the Great Depression, when the poor farmers moved to urban areas to fend for their families as the local economy ground to a halt.

Of the many ancient ruins that he came across in his adventures, nothing gave him such a distinct unsettling feeling as coming across an abandoned and dilapidated graveyard in the middle of the forest. With no visible houses or signs of habitation in the area, these forgotten villages of the dead gave one the impression that something terribly wrong must have happened for someone to totally their forsake ancestors as these ones had. Did something unspeakable happen that drove them from this place, making those interred here the dishonored dead? Was the land cursed? Though Steve would never know for sure the reason, the feeling of dread and despair always accompanied coming upon such sites.

On one occasion he encountered more than just a nameless fear that covered the area like a shroud of darkness.

One time he was sure he met the darkness itself in physical form.

It was late afternoon one hot summer day when Steve and his best friend Randy came across a strange sight while exploring a local creek. It looked as if the shale had exploded in the creek bed, from a distance they saw large pieces of rock standing upright on the shore and other similar sized pieces scattered in piles nearby.

But as they drew closer, they could see that it was not the thick shale from the creek that protruded from and littered the ground that edged the creek.

They were headstones.

The names and lettering were almost completely obliterated after years of exposure to the elements. Gray green mold covered most of the markers, which gave an odd texture to the few stylized features that were still visible on the surface. But the thing that disturbed Steve and Randy most was the oddity of having a graveyard placed on the shores of a creek. It seemed like a very odd and unlikely place to bury the dead. The boys thoroughly examined every stone, looking for a name, but the letters were too worn to be discernible. It was then that they had the distinct feeling that they were being watched.

Steve knew the feeling well, having spent many hours hunting in the woods. It was instinctual, but training made one rely upon and enhance that instinct. And he knew there was something off to the right watching them. He nonchalantly turned, still keeping his eyes to the ground. Then without raising his head he looked up into the wooded embankment where he felt the eyes upon him.

And he saw it. It was staring back at him.

Behind some foliage there crouched a hideous humanoid figure.

From what he recalls it was dressed in literal rags. The shirt and pants were torn and filthy in so much that the original color could not truly be discerned. The body was unnatural. As it hunched over, you had the sense that this was its natural posture, a misshapen body that tried to look like a human but failed on a basic level.

But it was the head that was the truly frightening thing.

Like the body, it was as if someone who had never seen a human being before had tried to make one out of a few mangled pieces. The head was large and bulbous in a way that one could only call 'squash' like. The eyes were oddly set and protruding from their sockets like they were made too large for the skull that held them. The creature's greyish skin was covered in lesions and boils from which a shiny ichor leaked, drenching the flesh.

They stood there staring at each other for what seemed like hours, eye to eye measuring the other. The only movement was the lurching of the things body as it rythmically breathed. Then as Randy turned and saw the monstrosity stalking them, he let out a high pitched shriek.

And the creature dissapeared.

It did not run. Steve and Randy had kept their eyes on it the whole time. It just simply faded away as if it never existed.

The two boys stood there stunned, wondering if they had just hallucinated the whole thing. But a quick examination of the area where the being had stood showed that there had been something physically there. The ground was disturbed and there were vague footprints in the mud.

They quickly halted their investigation and made haste in returning home. They never returned there, they were too afraid what they might encounter again.

What was the spectral image that Steve and Randy saw when they were young boys? Was it an apparition of one of the dishonored dead, buried haphazardly by the side of a creek in the middle of nowhere? Was it a hallucination after a long hike and a spooky setting which played with young boys minds? Or was it something else?

Although this encounter happened years ago, a similar incident brought the story back to mind.

I work with paranormal groups across the nation and some oversees, doing consultation with some very odd cases. One such case bears a striking resemblance to what those young boys encountered over 10 years ago deep in the Western Pennsylvania woods.

A group from another State contacted me a few months ago, they wanted my opinion of an unusual case. At first I thought someone was pulling their leg, or they were attempting to pull mine. The case involved a very violent haunting where a man was being physically attacked. There was something scratching him, pulling his across the floor and things being thrown across a room. But the strangest thing and what made me pause was the appearance of a disfigured humanoid in the man's house.

Its appearance was very similar to what Steve and Randy had encountered all those years ago. The bulbous head, the disfigured body in tattered clothing. however the thing did not just disappear into nothingness. It ran away, but someone other than the victim saw it trying to enter the woman's house.

All of this might have been dismissed as hallucination or hoax if it were not for the respectability of the victim and the witness. Adding to the veracity of the tale, the victim and the witness both do not wish to be in the spotlight. He does not seek fame nor glory nor his fifteen minutes of fame. He just wants it all to stop. He wants the terror to go away.

Is it mere coincidence that these two phantom beings have the same physical appearance? Many would say it is a demonic class of being, or a creature akin to the old world elf or gnome. A creature of supernatural abilities that seems to be a crude mockery of humanity. A specter out of folklore, coming to haunt our modern day world.

Which makes one think, what other creatures of native folklore that lurk in our Fortean world might in truth be more spiritual in nature than flesh and blood? Some of the same periphery phenomena that occures during paranormal manifestations also occures during encounters with cryptids and UFOs. Batteries drain, temperatures drop and electromagnetic fields fluctuate. I myself have had personal experience with this, last year while visiting the same area where I encountered the giant bird in 2000 I once again saw either the same or a simular creature. But this time I was prepaired, with digital camera in hand I began to snap pictures of the large bird as it was being attacked by smaller birds as it rose into the air a little more than 100 feet from me. But the camera froze. The batteries were dead. But they had just been purchased and placed in the device a few moments before I entered the area. By the time I switched out batteries I did manage to snap a few pictures, but they were blurry and you could not make out anything of value. They were pretty darn pathetic. I only told a few of the experience, mostly because of the bad evidence I had onhand. I only share it now as example.

Many who study various areas of the unexplained do not like to have their genre of study lumped with the descriptive title of 'paranormal phenomena'. But perhaps, there is more commanlity in all these encounters with the unexplained than we would like to presume.

Perhaps we, with our dim mortal vision of the mysteries that surround us, are the true lurkers in twilight.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Phantom Child of Wintergreen Gorge

On my Examiner Page, a retelling of a story that strikes close to home.

Just on the brink of happiness, Tim Randall dies a horrible death. Does he walk the cliffs of Wintergreen Gorge reliving the best times of his life?

http://www.examiner.com

Monday, September 28, 2009

Video blog: The Love Lost Nun of Mercyhurst College


Mercyhurst College here in Erie Pennsylvania has a resident ghost: an apparition of a Nun.

I detailed the story here: http://theparanormalpastor.blogspot.com/2008/08/crazed-ghost-of-love-lost-nun_12.html

Part of my seminar at this years Erie Horror Film Festival is a multimedia presentation that includes animated local legends, the Ghost Nun being one of them. The main body of the story is on my Youtube page. Let me know what you think.



More new stories to come by the second week of October, and I can take a breath!!

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seminar at the Erie Horrorfest




I have the humble privilege to participate in a seminar series for the Erie Horror Film Festival next month. They are wishing to expand the fulcrum of their view beyond the cinematic, and into the true tales of the unexplained. Therefore I am going to give a multimedia presentation of Erie Counties most astounding true tales of terror, The UFO landing on Presque Isle, The Love lost Nun of Mercyhurst College, The Ghost boy of Penn State Erie's Wintergreen Gorge, The Restless Dead of the War of 1812 to name a few.

You can find more information about the fest and the celebrity guest stars from horror filmdom here:
http://www.eeriehorrorfilmfestival.com/
Come and say hello!

This is one reason why stories have not been flowing like usual here, I am doing a 3d animation on most of these stories. It seems my old habits of precrastination from Grad school has never left me and I always approach the task from the side instead of head on and waste a lot of time, which is why more stories are missing here. I do have a group of stories in the pike that shuls flow after this task is done. Sorry. But if you are in the Erie area and do enjoy the stories, I do believe you would enjoy the finished product I have labored over for the last month or two.

And hey, the fest is hosting Corey Feldman. He has seen Gremlins first hand!

Blessings,

Pastor Swope

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pithy and Pompous Paranormal Pundancy

Frank, head of Erie County Paranormal asked me to appear on their blogtalk show this Saturday night. After having Riley Martin on the show last week there was a verbal slugfest between two callers that descended into Theological issues such as evolution, life on other planets and proving there is a God. They asked the callers back this week and asked me to sit in and strike up a debate. It was a blast and the two hours flew by, it was a thought provoking session where I show I cannot tell jokes very well and can come up with a crude analogy with the best of them. Tempers flared a bit and mayhem ensued. If you want to take a listen you can go to the show at the link below.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ghsthunter346/2009/09/13/The-battle-of-is-there-life-on-other-planets-returns-to-Erie-County-Paranormal


One of the key 'heretical' points I bring up is my belief that animals do not have souls. I try to explain it theologically and with an inappropriate metaphor, but I don't think many understood my intent.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An Exorcist's Field Guide



My new book, "An Exorcist's Field Guide to Blessings, Consecrations and Eradication of Malevolent Entities" is now available on Amazon HERE.

It is a guide for the Lay person to perform a simple customizable ceremony for a house or building consecration or a blessing. I also include how to proceed if there is a possible malevolent entity involved. It is designed to be used in the field as you perform the ceremony, with readings and prayers in English, Latin, Gaelic and even the African Jula language. You can customize the ceremony to your needs.

When talking about this project, many have voiced their concerns as to a lay person performing this ritual. I do understand their concerns. Trying to perform such a rite without understanding or guidance can make matters worse. However this is first and foremost a ritual of faith. It requires faith, no matter the training or experience of the officiant. You can have the most experienced professional accomplish nothing if that person does not have faith in the power of God over evil. Likewise a novice can quickly become a seasoned spiritual warrior when a ceremony is mixed with a bit of faith.

"if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:19-21

I also have heard the argument that only Clergy should attempt this ritual. I understand this, especially if you are from a Roman Catholic tradition. But one of the primary principles that Martin Luther proposed with the Protestant Reformation was the priesthood of the believer. Our mediator to God is Christ Himself, we need no man to intercede for us. Likewise so with rituals. As a believer in Christ by faith you can preform all the sacramental duties of the church, while academic training and a proven character through denominational affiliation is for building up stable church leadership. But according to Protestant tradition, you do not need a Seminary degree to pray a prayer of faith, to anoint someone for healing, to celebrate communion, to baptize, perform a wedding (of course you have to have legal authority for a binding wedding) or any other ritual within the Christian Tradition. All you need is belief and faith in Christ.

Until Next Time (hopefully a full story by the end of the week!)
Pastor Swope

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Wolf Woman of Mobile Alabama

For weeks in early April 1971, residents of the Mobile Alabama suburbs of Port City and Plateau had encounters with a strange and bizarre creature.

The Wolf Woman of Davis Avenue.

Since the dawn of civilization legends of half human half animal creatures have tantalized the curious and helped build mythologies. The Werewolf is one of the more popular of these anthropomorphic creatures and familiar to use because they have roots in both European and American Indian folklore.

The European tradition is the more familiar strain of the legend concerning the transforming wolf/human. The transformed being was usually an evil man in league with the Devil who would terrorize and feast on the flesh of the innocent population.

In the Native American culture the werewolf is associated with the skin walker. The skin walker can transform him or herself into an animal for a period of time. Like in the European lore, this person uses evil or culturally offensive means to gain the ability to transform, and they cause chaos and violence in the community while transformed.

The Wolf Woman of Davis Avenue was a classical wereperson; it's upper body was that of a human and the lower limbs were that of a wolf.

She made her appearance in the very beginning of April when it began to roam the streets at night. One witness described it as "a woman and wolf, pretty and hairy." After the initial report in the Mobile Register, the newspaper received over 50 calls of encounters and sightings over the following week.


Newspaper Clip supplied by C.U.E.
Center for Unexplained Events

Citizens were chased by the creature, stalked, and saw it roaming in their backyards.

No one was hurt or assaulted, and the police took the investigation seriously for the sheer number of reported sightings.

But after little more than 10 days the creature disappeared, never to be seen again.

So what was it?

Witnesses described it as having the upper body of a beautiful woman and the back quarters of a wolf. It ran on all fours, as a wolf would. Most of the sightings took place at night by terrified witnesses.

Perhaps a feral woman? It certainly would not be the first child to supposedly be raised by wolves and then mimic the traits of their adoptive species.

Take the Lobo Wolf Girl of Devil's River

According to Feralchildren.com,

"In May of 1835, the Wolf Girl of Devil's River was born to Mollie Dent, who had gone with her husband to the Beaver Lake area to trap. Mollie was having problems with the birth, so her husband, John Dent, rode to get help from a Mexican-run goat ranch on the Pecos Canyon, but he was struck and killed by lightning before he could return accompanied by the Mexican couple. By the time the Mexicans reached Mollie, she had died, apparently in childbirth. Wolf tracks in the vicinity suggested that the newborn infant had been devoured by the lobo wolves of the area.

However, in 1845 a boy saw a girl, in the company of a pack of lobo wolves, attacking a herd of goats. Less than a year later, a Mexican woman at San Felipe saw two large wolves and a girl devour a freshly-killed goat. She observed the girl run off — first on all fours, and then on two legs.

A hunt was mounted, and after three days the Lobo Girl of Devil's River was caught after fighting wildly to keep her freedom. She was taken to a ranch (really just a two-room hovel) and locked in. Her howling attracted answering cries from wolves far and wide, and a large pack of wolves rushed the corrals, attacking the goats, cows and horses. Shooting started, and in the confusion the girl managed to remove the board nailed over the window and make her escape.

In 1852, a group of frontiersmen surveying a better route to El Paso saw a girl suckling two wolf cubs on a sand bar in the river, who then ran off, carrying the cubs. She would have been 17 in that year; but she was never seen again."

Was the creature sighted by the Mobile Alabama community merely a grown feral child who was mistakes as an animal because of it's method of walking on all fours and disheveled appearance?

Or was it a skin walker who manifest itself on those late spring nights so long ago?

The community was in an uproar, and the community dared not to venture out at night. Doors that were usually open to invite neighbors for a welcome time of Southern fellowship were closed and locked. For a time in April 1971 the Mobile community was gripped in fear.

Which would be the desired outcome if the creature truly was a practitioner of the Witchery Way, however using the pelt of a wolf or coyote is a strict taboo for a skin walker.

Perhaps the original writers of the story got it right. In the article pictured above the author calls the creature an 'apparition' and 'phantom'.

Something truly terrifying manifested itself in Mobile 38 years ago, and then vanished into the ethereal mist of time.

Where does the Wolf Woman lurk now?

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Update 08/20/2009
New Trailer for the 'Wolf Man', thought I'd add it. Looks interesting!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Interview with Pastor Swope By The BAZ Files

Sorry about the lack of posts, in this bad economy I have taken a second job to meet the needs of my family. So time is a rare jewel that I wish I had more of. However, I sense there comes a lull in the storm soon. In fact my secondary job is in direct relation to Hospice care, which I have been researching for my new book, Echo's Beyond the Veil: Unexplained Events at the End of Life.

We shall see what God has in store to share.

Meanwhile, Pastor Barry Porter of Australia has asked me a few questions about myself, ministry and my background. You can find the interview at:

http://thebazfiles.blogspot.com/2009/08/interview-with-paranormal-pastor-robin.html

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Spectres of the Churinga Stone: A Nightmare on Maple Street
















Can objects hold supernatural power or be the focus of paranormal activity?

I know of many Missionaries who are sure that they do, from fetishes to totems of aboriginal people. There are objects of power that seem to bleed paranormal phenomena.

You don't have to tell that to Pastor Barry Porter of Australia, he knows first hand.

They thought it was a simple artifact of the local aboriginal people, but the stone his father in law found in the ground on an old trail was much more than a simple stone. Here is the story in Barry's own words:

I have known my wife since we were six years old – she lived across the road from me at Bowen Mt, 50 miles from the heart of Sydney NSW Australia, the foothills of the famous Blue Mountains a hotspot for the occult and all things paranormal.


While the area is now famous for the ghosts of convicts who were driven to early graves under whips, chains and hard labour in the early 1800’s and black panther sightings, it also has a strong Daruk Aboriginal history.


In the early 1980’s there were additional trails and tree clearing cut through the dense bush for new housing and to allow fire trucks and crews to prevent bush fires. My future Father-in-law loved to bushwalk (hike) through the massive expanse of forest and national park. One morning as he walked through a newly cleared area he noticed a strange object poking out from the ground. It was made of hard stone yet looked like it had been cut by modern technology.


Mike dug it out with his bare hands. By the time he pulled it out he realised he was holding something of human origin but like nothing he had ever seen. It was just over a foot long, shaped like a teardrop, with perfectly bevelled edges. There was a sense of guilt…he knew this was likely to be an Aboriginal artefact and either belonged in the location it’s owners placed it in or a museum. But he decided to take it to his home on Maple St, making a wooden cradle for it, placing it above the mantelpiece of the fireplace.


It wasn’t long before strange things started to happen.


The youngest daughter started seeing Ancient aboriginal people walking through the house at night time. She would get up to go to the bathroom and have to wait for them to pass. Then there were illnesses – heart attacks and strokes – that struck previously healthy Mike in his early 30’s.


A Yowie (Bigfoot) was sighted by the homes occupants and a young neighbour watching the house from across the road. At night, huge thumps and knocks on the outside of the house would send Mike running outside with his rifle……to fine no visible culprit.


One night when the kids were watching TV, and they were at home alone waiting for their mother to return from the late shift at the local Chinese Restaurant the worst occurrences happened.


The television set started changing channels by itself. As the kids watched in horror the phone rang. They answered. There was no-one there. As soon as it was put on the receiver it rang again. Still no caller was at the other end. Over and over again it happened.

Then to the daughters relief, a large light engulfed the side of the house….her mother must be home. She ran outside, up the dark stone steps at the back of the house in the pitch black, following the light to the hill above the house. To her horror when she got there it remained pitch black. The light which had floated around the house suddenly had vanished leaving her standing in the freezing cold, alone with a feeling of impending dread.


People who would sleep in the room with the stone would have nightmares about Yowies and Aboriginal Kaditcha Men (Witchdoctors).


It wasn’t until 2008, that the origin of the stone was revealed. A Researcher Identified it as a Churinga stone. In our terminology, a spiritual ‘memory stick’ for the Aboriginals that must never be removed from the ground in which it is placed.


An exorcism was done on the stone by a Pastor and it’s whereabouts are presently unknown – the eldest son in the family took it upon himself to put the stone in a safe place.


So be careful about what artifacts you bring home – there may be unseen others who will manifest their presence until it is returned.


No matter where you are in the world, the native people of old have fashioned such artifacts of power. It does not take an archaeologist to find them, but it may take the intercession of a trained spiritual warrior to rid your life of the presence you invite when you take these things home.

So best to heed the words of Indian Jones, "It belongs in a Museum!"

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Also on my Examiner page:
Did MonsterQuest get it right about the Flying Humanoid?

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Restless Dead of Graveyard Pond



It was the winter of 1813, after a brilliant naval victory in September that secured the strategic waters of Lake Erie for the American forces, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's flagship the Niagara weathered out the harsh winter at Presque Isle’s Little Bay.

But fate would turn the safe harbor of Little Bay into what we would know today as Misery Bay.

Small Pox had begun to spread on board the Niagara. But being quarantined in the bottom of ship’s hold did little to stem the tide of the disease and the plague was quickly spreading ship wide. When those of his crew were struck down with the disease, the commanding officers ordered that their bodies be buried at sea in the lagoons of the pond near the bay. Now, as the plague’s ferocious force began to unleash itself upon all the crew the Niagara's commanders without Perry's guidance (Perry was home in Connecticut at the time) made a radical decision to bury all those infected with disease at the bottom of the adjacent pond.

There was little hope for them; Perry's flagship captain did what he had to do in a remote region of the then wilderness with little help coming for a long time. He buried the dying who yet had the breath of life into the little pond; tying stones around their bodies he surrendered them beneath the waves before death had the chance to naturally take their lives.

It was a harsh but relatively quick death.

Some saw it as a mercy killing.

Others saw it as an abominable act that had no vindication.

But it was done.

And the war was over within a year.

England and America were no longer at war, and both the Niagara and the Lawrence (Perry’s initial Flagship that was abandoned due to heavy damage during the Battle of Lake Erie), were sunk into the depth of Misery Bay after the conflicts ceased.

The Lawrence was raised in 1875 for the 1876 Centennial Exposition but would later be consumed in a fiery fate later that year.

The Niagara was raised in 1913 and the portions that were restorable were on display at the port of Erie until 1995 when a fully restored Niagara would once again sail the tempest lake where it gained its renown for securing early American sovereignty.

The forgotten dead who forged the fate of a newly born America on the other hand, wait to be raised since their untimely fate in the bottom of that small pond which is now called Graveyard Pond...




Saturday, July 25, 2009

Radio Interview at Binnall of America

It was a privilege to do an interview with Tim Binnall, the audio is now posted at his site.
We cover a broad range of topics from the stories on my blog and more. It was a great time with a great interviewer!
The link is below!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Battle in the Heavens

On an empirical level it is of course very odd and striking when the unseen world breaks through our own and reminds us of the reality of the spiritual plane in which we all co-exist with spiritual creatures.


But it should be of no surprise to Theologians or anyone who has even an elementary knowledge of Scriptures from the Judeo-Christian perspective.


We are surrounded by spiritual beings, whether seen or unseen.


Scripture and Judeo-Christian tradition tell us that a third of the angels of God fell from grace and their heavenly abode. With tales from around the world of the presence of demonic or malicious entities that number of the fallen must have been a very high one. Of course there is also the Early Church tradition of the Nephilim, the half breed race of fallen angels and man that was an abomination to God. According to tradition, having died in the flood, they wander the earth to harm or possess mankind. These disembodied Nephilim may also be mistaken for a demonic entity as well. Needless to say, the numbers of these evil creatures are not known, but they are a formidable army arrayed against humanity.


However, a lot of us who deal with these entities on a theoretical or practical level often fail to take into account that these are not the only invisible beings that share our plane of existence.


One a third of the angels fell. That means two thirds are still the loyal messengers of God, protectors of humanity. We are literally surrounded by hosts of light and darkness, fighting in an unseen world. They battle over the souls of men, on an individual and communal level.


Most of the times these heavenly battles take place in the unseen ethereal realm, not noticed by most mortals. But sometimes they are sensed by those who are sensitive or who possess spiritual gifts. Occasionally the battle comes to the home front of humanity when an oppression or possession takes place. And on the rarest of occasions these battles are manifest where they can be visible in our earthly realm to those who have eyes to see.


Syd and Gladys Marklin, missionaries to Columbia have had such an experience. They had served as missionaries to Bogota and the surrounding area for over 37 years when they retired in the late 80s. Syd was the scholar of the family and taught theology to indigenous ministers, but as relayed here on the blog before, Gladys had a special calling from the Lord. Not only was she a prayer warrior and empathetic counselor, she was a spiritual warrior like few have ever been. She combined a sensitive heart, a devout soul, and a caring spirit to be used in incredible ways. It was early in their ministry that she began to stand out as an effective deliverance minister to those oppressed and possessed by diabolical entities. One more than one occasion the spiritual battle she encountered when seeking deliverance for an oppressed soul was not only a palpable presence, but it actually became manifest. On a few occasions she claims to have actually seen the battle take place before her very eyes, as if they were open to the spiritual reality around her that would otherwise be ethereal.


Julianna was raised in a Catholic home, but as a teenager her heart strayed. Giving into peer pressure she became rebellious and since her father would have nothing to do with a rebellious child, she soon found herself on the street before her 16th birthday. She made by doing anything she could, from eating scraps out of the garbage of the well to do, to selling her body on the torrid streets of Bogotá. A beautiful girl, her services were eventually controlled by one of the wealthy drug cartels, and she began to serve an elite and ruthless clientele. By the time she was 18 she had been beaten close to death over half a dozen times because of her rebellious and stubborn nature. Even though she was so young, the toil of a hard life of abuse had made her grow older than her years. She knew that some night one of the beatings would take her life, and she would be cast aside as so much garbage like she had seen happen with so many others that crossed the path of the ruthless drug lords. So in desperation she sought out help to escape this dead end life.


By chance or the guidance of God, depending how you look at it, she ran into Gladys unexpectedly. Gladys was doing a counseling call to another girl who herself had been walking the streets just a year before. The young girl resided with her mother, and Julianna known her when she was still trapped in a life on the mean streets. She happened to come for aid just as Gladys was there. She offered Julianna sanctuary. It was a risky thing, the chance that someone who knew her reporting they had last seen Julianna leaving with Mrs. Marklin was a real threat. And many of the drug kingpins did not acknowledge the sacredness of the church. If associations were made the Marklins could be in serious trouble.


But they relied upon their faith, and God protected them. They did face a battle, though, one just as strong and threatening as any drug cartel.


During her stay in the mission compound Julianna was plagued by very disturbing and graphically violent dreams. She saw herself being beaten to death and dismembered. At the end of the dream she would look in a mirror and see her skinless face screaming back at her. Under her screams she would hear a diabolical laughter, and more than once after awakening from her dreams she heard the laughter in her room. Mrs. Marklin also noticed crosses and religious books in her room were destroyed overnight on more than one occasion. At first she thought it might be Julianna, but after questioning her and her sincere denial combined with the revelation about her dreams, Gladys knew there were things working behind the scenes that were plotting to destroy the young girl.


She suspected demonic oppression. Moreover, she suspected an active curse or spiritual attack from not only an entity or entities, but that there was a human hand at work behind the scenes. After talking to many sources it was revealed that although the cartel had hired a ‘Babalawo’ a practitioner of a variation of Santaria that knows how to communicate with and command spirits. As Gladys had suspected, Julianna was under a serious spiritual attack.


Gladys and her husband Syd, two other missionaries and a few indigenous ministered all gathered for prayer and fasting over Julianna. According to Gladys, it did not take long for strange phenomena to manifest itself in the room. First there was a low hum that grew in volume and then mutated somehow into the sound of a whining cat. Everyone that sat around the young girl began to feel an odd uneasiness permeate the room, according to one of the other missionaries it felt as if the room were alive with hate. Other mystery noises started sounding off from various areas in the building, as if stones were thrown on the roof to doors that were not there closing with violent power.


Gladys was the first one to see it, as a thin mist began form over Julianna’s head. Then two others noticed it as well as it coalesced into distinguishable solid shapes of darker haze.


It moved, back and forth, sometimes with large sweeping arks. The mist seemed to be coiling into itself and sometimes pushing against each other.


Then the figures of mist formed into two distinct beings of half visible shadow and light. One was a large being with great wings, a sword and odd shaped helmet. It was garbed in what looked like a tunic like garment, but the details were blurred as if watching the being through a hazy lens. The other creature was a bumpy and gnarled creature of mostly shadows. It had thin limbs that ended with long claws or hooks, which it used to strike out at the other being. The eyes were yellowish orange globes, and the only truly distinguishing part of the dark creature’s body.


Both beings seemed to be in a heated battle, the winged one that Gladys took to be an angel was swinging his sword tactfully, striking the dark creature in the body or arm as it tried to block the blows. The dark creature would counter attack by lashing out with its deadly claws as a cornered animal would do when faced by a greater foe. Not all saw the battle take place in the ethereal area above them and as the prayers of those present rose to a fevered pitch, the praise and intercession seemed to quickly swing the tide of the battle to the angelic being. With a mighty hack of the blade the dark creature was struck in the neck. A loud screech was heard echoing throughout the room by all present. It was high pitched and almost mechanical rather than that of an animal, but at that shriek of pain, the vision above them vanished.


As if on cue from the unnatural shriek, Julianna slumped off her chair and fell to the ground. She was very week, and Gladys and the others continued their prayers as she was brought to her bed and cared for by one of the other missionaries, who was also a nurse. The young girl woke up hours later and smiled, instead of the usual nightmare that had been plaguing her, she had experienced a wonderful dream. She was walking through a beautiful field with a handsome young man who looked like a body builder. She seemed to know him, but he did not look familiar. Suddenly from a forest edge a pack of rabid dogs ran toward them on an attack. With one swift move the man moved Julianna behind him, covering her from safety and produced a long knife from his side. She had never seen the knife before. He took three steps toward the attacking pack of rabid canines and the knife grew into an enormous sword, and with one swift strike he cut down the entire pack of dogs. The man turned to her and smiled a smile that filled her with peace, and with an enchanting voice he told her, “You are safe now.”

The terrible nightmares had left Julianna after this spiritual battle, and although she never again dreamed of the strong defender, she always had a sense that he was right there beside her. Julianna would eventually leave Columbia and go to school to become a nurse and the last time Gladys had heard of her she was assisting at a free clinic in Central America.


Many times during fasting and prayer, depending on the length and exclusivity of the fast, one can experience vivid visions or hallucinations. One time I had a friend of mine imagine a whole scenario that I knew never took place involving myself and other of our friends. When earnest prayer is mixed with a prolonged fast, the mind can either become delusional or particularly acute. I have also had associates who while in a secluded fasting and prayer session experience times of spiritual clarity and wisdom that were life changing.


Was Gladys and the other missionaries who saw this battle of heaven manifest itself in that prayer session hallucinating, or were they granted a rare vision into a reality that surrounds us, a reality that which very few can even perceive let alone experience?


Gladys, Syd and the missionaries and Julianna are all sure by faith and experience it was the latter.

We are surrounded by an unseen world. There are forces at battle around us and the prize they fight for are often the very souls of men and women. Sometimes they manifest themselves as hauntings, sometimes as oppressions, and more often than naught they are less than obvious.


We exist in a world of shadows and light, seen and unseen, understandable and paradoxical. In such a world certainty can be allusive and the unwary traveler may find themselves entrapped by the very things that they though would liberate them.


But for every darkness, there is a light. A light of hope, power and acceptance. The hope of freedom and completeness. When the shadows come, the light will always send them back to the abyss from whence they came.


Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope


See also my Examiner page:

'Devil Dolls' that come to life at night plague mexico

Friday, July 10, 2009

The AntiChrist is in Latin America?

A new short article about Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, a self proclaimed anti-Christ on my Examiner site here: Examiner

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kinzua Dam: A Paranormal Hotbed


In 1796 Seneca War Chief Cornplanter was granted 15,000 acres along the Alleghany river by Pennsylvania for his assistance to the State as a loyal and a steadfast protector of American families settling in the wilderness of the upper Ohio River basin. In what would become the oldest standing Indian treaty, George Washington granted the land to Chief Cornplanter and his ancestors forever.

Forever ended in 1965 when the completed Kinzua Dam flooded the Alleghany river and covered the ancestral lands of the Seneca leader. Their homes, their only viable farmland, and the graves of the ancestors were now under hundreds of feet of water. Despite petitions from Tribal leaders to JFK to stop the proposed Dam in 1960, the President and United States broke the longest standing treaty between the Government and the Native Tribes of North America.

The residents of Kinzua and the adjoining town of Corydon were relocated, the Indian burial grounds were dug up, including that of Chief Cornplanter himself and the remains were entombed on the nearby hillside with a memorial.

But to this day the Seneca claim that not only was the removal itself a vile act of desecration, but that there are still some missing tribal graves under the flooded waters of the Alleghany. And even the bones of Cornplanter himself were treated with irreverence and disrespect, leading some who witnessed the desecration to believe that perhaps not all the remains of the historic Chief were re-interned. (American Heritage Magazine, December 1968, Vol.20 Issue 1)

The flooded valley is called the Alleghany Reservoir by the Government but to the Seneca nation this man made lake is called Lake Perfidy. Perfidy because of the underhanded deception that was conducted by the Corps of Engineers throughout the planning and building of the Dam and the promises made to the relocation of the people of the Tribe.

With all of the trauma and desecration one is not surprised to find out that there have been paranormal happenings along the Kinzua Dam and Lake Perfidy. But one would be amazed at the cornucopia of high strangeness that has manifest itself along the shores and beneath the waves of this cursed lake. But finding out these nuggets of Fortean happenings is not an easy task. Most of the campers and fishermen who spend their days and nights along the site are not the kind to openly share their incredible stories of the unexplained. But once in a while you get some who are willing to share their stories, and sometimes they are in the strangest places.

Kinzua is an Indian name which means “fish on spear” and the area since the flooding has been a prime Pennsylvania fishing spot. Indeed there have been record catches made on the man made lake. My family has fished at the Dam for years and I had never heard of any paranormal activities. However, recently I took a trip to the Tom Ridge Center, a welcome center to tourists coming to Presque Isle Peninsula here in Erie and I came across some strange first hand information. The reason for my trip to the center was to check out their exhibit of the 1966 UFO landing on Presque Isle, which I have reported on here. The Exhibit was not very informative and actually very condescending, disappointing since the incident was listed as never solved by Project Blue Book and the amount of time the Air Force investigated the incident. In fact the Air Force is never mentioned at the display; all they reference is a Park Ranger who claims ‘nothing spectacular happened’. But what peaked my interest was an adjoining display of Bayside Bessie, Lake Erie’s resident lake monster. The display made it seem that the creature had been sighted locally, when it was only briefly seen in the 1890s and the modern sightings took place near Cleveland Ohio. So I talked to one of the executive staff of the center about the display to see if I was missing anything. And of course when you talk to some people about the unexplained, you usually get their own stories.

The staff person told me that there have been some very strange sightings of a lake creature at Kinzua. She had heard a report from a Park Ranger that the Dam divers had a harrowing encounter with a very large snake-like creature within the last year. There was video supposedly shown by the Army Corps of Engineers to some Government officials of the creatures in Lake Perfidy. The executive told me the neck of the creature they had on tape had a massive neck that was almost two feet thick. The tape was made as divers were doing maintenance on the Dam itself and it also showed some monstrous fish near the bottom of Lake Perfidy as well. I was told that the divers have since resorted to working in cages as they inspect the Dam for fear of both the unknown aquatic creature and the car sized Catfish that might mistake them for a possible snack. Intrigued, I did some research...

Read the rest at my Examiner Article Here:

Friday, June 26, 2009

What lies beyond the Veil?

Where do we go when we die?


Two things spurred me to write this blog today.


First was the passing of three American Icons, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson.


When legends die most people begin to wonder about their own mortality as well.


Secondly an acerbic comment left by ‘John’, an obviously confused person who by the prejudgment of his Fundamentalist ideology accused me of twisting Scripture to my own ends and urged me in no certain terms to ‘repent’. The topic in question for which ‘John’ had issues with was that of the Scriptural view of ‘Ghosts’ I examined in my article The Bible and the Paranormal Part 1:Ghosts.


When people of deep faith or conviction are presented with the idea that the ideology that they hold so dear might not be based on fact but conjecture, they either get go into a classic stress reaction which leads to fight or flight.


Judging by the comments of some, ‘John’ notwithstanding, that has been the overall reaction by Christians of a particular mindset to this topic.


Beware Christian Dogma Ahead!


While many of you might not hold to Christian belief, the Christian traditions have merged with Western Culture to such an extent that common beliefs in Christian circles are those in common culture as well.


The dominant Christian/Western view is that as Christians when we die, we go to heaven or hell depending upon what you either a) did with your life, and/or b)your relationship with Jesus Christ.


But does the Bible really say that?


Again as in my previous articles I must say we must look at the Bible as a whole and in context.


Most Christians get the belief that they are going straight off to heaven when they die because of some key passages from Paul the Apostle:

2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NKJV)

1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.


Philippians 1:21-23 (NKJV)

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.


So it would seem from a quick glance at these Scriptures that the Apostle Paul in these two letters is telling us that when you die you go right to Jesus in heaven. Many Christians comfort themselves with this thought, and to challenge it is considered heresy.


But when looking at Scripture as a whole it is not so clear cut.


Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians tells us something a little different about those who are dead:

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NKJV)


So here Paul says those who die are asleep. They are not alive and consciously living with Jesus in heaven. He also uses this terminology in the first letter to the church of Corinth, 1 Corinthians:

17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.


There is a belief among some Christian traditions of ‘Soul Sleep’. Once the body is dead, the soul is not conscious. The soul and spirit sleep until they can be united with a new body.


So are we ‘asleep’ in souls sleep, or are we in heaven, or something else?


To define this let’s look at the verses that follow 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, Vv.9-10

9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.


Paul is talking about being with Christ in the context of the judgement of believers. If you also follow the context of the other Scriptures here as well, you will see that Paul is putting all this terminology and referencing into the context of the resurrection.


The Judeo-Christian tradition holds that there will be a bodily resurrection of the just at the end days. That is the great hope. We will not dwell in heaven for eternity, though by the language the scripture uses we could, but our bodies will be transformed and be like Christ at His resurrection. It will be a supernatural and multidimensional body that can traverse heaven and Earth. Not only that, but the whole cosmos shall be re-made so there is no more sin, war or death. That is the great hope.


What Paul references here then is what Christian Theologians call ‘The Intermediate State’ or ‘Disembodied Existence’. While the body dies, the soul lives on. It is the state of the body between death and resurrection.

Dr. D.E. Nilsson in his Biblical Doctrine Study concerning the Intermediate State acknowledges that : “The state of the human being after death is left largely in the shadows by Scripture”. Millard Erickson also agrees stating that “The doctrine of the intermediate state is an issue which is both very significant and problematic.” (Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990 p1174)


Early church fathers believed that all who die, righteous and unrighteous alike descend into Sheol or Hades, a gloomy dream state where they await the second coming of Christ.

(Joachim Jeremias, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedich, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 10 vols. Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1964-1976, Vol 1, pp.657-58)


Sheol and Hades are terminology associated with the grave, but in early apostolic thought it was almost a purgatory like waiting place where the souls of the dead waited until their final judgment. The just had joy and the unjust experienced torture. So the righteous in Christ experienced bliss, and although they were not in heaven itself (they had to be in the resurrected form to be granted that privilege after the judgment) they did experience comfort.


Many ancient writers who’s belief system that were akin to the ancient church fathers believed there was fellowship between souls in Sheol/Hades and the individual still laid claim to their identity. The supernatural phenomenon of a haunting, if it was not classified as demonic, was often thought of as a soul escaping Sheol/Hades up until the late 19th century. (Burmester, William. New Castle News/Lawrence Country Historical Society: New Castle, Legends of Lawrence County. 1984 pp.85-86)


So where do we go when we die?


Traditionally we await the judgment of God and Christ in a disembodied existence. In that existence to have a taste of what that judgment will be. For the good, Christ comforts them and according to apostolic thought, there is a fellowship with family and friends. It is much like the phenomena related by those who have a near death experience. For the bad, it is not pleasant.


Significant in the early church thought is the concept of a souls escaping or somehow not being in Sheol/Hades.


While many will try to refute that the Bible talks about ghosts as disembodied spirits of the dead in Scripture, you cannot escape the evidence that the Scripture does reference ghost/spirits many times in a manner that does not associate them with demonic forces that need to be exorcized (1 Samuel 28:7-25; Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; Luke 24:33-43; John 6:14-21). Scripture tells us there was a belief in ghosts in the believing community of the Old and New Testament. Early church belief and writings demonstrate that believers untainted by millennia of political manipulation of theology believed that some spirits were indeed the disembodied dead who somehow escaped the confines of Sheol/Hades.


So we have Scripture and ancient church tradition to lean on. After we die we are in a place awaiting our final destination.


A place of peace for some, a place of torment for others.


A place that for some reason or another a spirit can escape or in some way avoid.


How?


We do not know.


But the spirit will not be able to avoid judgment for good or ill by its Creator and Sustainer of life, even though it might traverse the land of the living for a time.


Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope