Saturday, January 31, 2009

Phantasms of the Future

The strangeness did not start for quite a while after we moved into the flat on Taggert Street.

I do not know if it was all the commotion brought on by settling in and moving or by the tragedy of September 11th. For that tragic event took place just weeks after we moved into the two story flat in Wesleyville; but for whatever reason we were oblivious to any strange or malignant presence that abided with us in that century old building.

We were dwelling in the bliss that envelopes ignorance.

Unfortunately that ignorance would soon be shattered in a series of occurrences that would not only unsettle the foundation of our family but it would also cause untold stress upon all of us who lived in that upper floor on Taggert Street.

We moved in at the same time with another young couple, they had two young children a boy only 5 years old and a girl who was soon approaching the tweenage year of 11. Our son had just been born the previous year and we had moved into the old flat because of the spaciousness of the apartment.

At our new neighbors were very friendly and helpful. I was if we had found some unknown long lost friends or relative who were more than willing to reach out to us and do whatever they could to make us feel accepted and comfortable in our new home. But soon that all changed and our new found friends soon became very aloof and only spoke to us in short sentences, soon finding a way to escape any contact and shun anyone from the world outside of their family.

They quickly became entirely different, and for no foreseeable reason on our part.

My wife and I wondered if it had anything to do with us. Had we done something to precipitate this exile from fellowship? We really could not think of anything that we could have done that would have caused such a change in character with our new found friends

Then to our surprise we found that despite a year long lease our new found friends had abandoned their apartment within two short months.

While they were loading the Ryder van I tried to asked them why they had decided to leave on such short notice and why they had not gave any inkling to us. All that Ken coud say in a glazed eyed stutter was “ We saw…everything…” and then he shook his head and wandered off to load the moving van with the remnants of his furniture.

Needless to say we did not know what to say as they loaded up the van and pulled away to their next home. We were left perplexed, puzzled and feeling a little bit off put wondering what could have compelled them to make such a move at what we conceived as a whim.

But it was not a whim, as soon we were to find out.

Our first inkling that there was something otherworldly involved was to come soon afterward when the lower flat had been abandoned for a few months.

I was in the washroom alone. Just putting down the tri-weekly load of laundry I felt there was something there watching me as I loaded the washing machine and as I was quickly flicking the switch I turned around to confront the person there behind me.

But I saw nothing.

That in and of itself would have been no bother at all if it were for the unusual coldness of the underground washing room. It was February but the furnaces in the basement were blowing full, pushing the hot air to the rooms above and there were multiple vents throughout the area. But still in this dark and dank netherworld the heat from the furnaces seemed to dissipate into nothingness before they reached me.

It was as if something was sucking the heat from the air.

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the shadows move.

It was not the normal shifting of darkness that you would usually see, it was something solid moving in the unlit


Something large.

Against my better judgment I quickly turned and investigated the shifting shape in the dark and for a few seconds I did see it move and then… it quickly disappeared.

I did not relate the encounter to my wife who usually did the laundry because I did not want to alarm her without a reason, for I was sure that it had been a mirage or trick of the lighting. But the overwhelming sense that we were not alone in the house only increased over time.

Families in the downstairs apartment kept moving in and out very quickly. The longest tenant stayed only 6 months. One of them did let me know that not only did they feel very uneasy in the flat but that they were sure someone was lurking about at night while they were sleeping. Things were moved about and missing, and at one time they were sure they saw someone standing over their bed. The person was a large man in thermal underwear, but he had simply vanished. This confession made me wonder if the other previous tenants had too experienced the night visitor.

One of the most interesting and alarming development over the next year was my son began talking about his ‘ghost friend’. After talking to him in detail about what he was talking about I was sure that it was not an imaginary friend like other children his age usually conjured up when they were lonely. Not this ‘friend’ was invisible to him also but he knew it was there. He not only could feel its presence but he said he caught it hiding some of his toys. When I asked him how he had caught the creature hiding his toys he said he could not find them in his drawer but he had a sudden flash of insight where they had been stashed. He knew that his ‘ghost friend’ had taken them. Over the years my son has had multiple such flashes of insight and has connected them to his ethereal companion.

But perhaps the most bizarre experience I had with the entities of the house came just a few years ago in 2006. I was once again putting laundry in the downstairs washer. The bottom flat was once again empty and the landlord had just begun to remodel it. On this afternoon no one had been in the apartment and as I walked up the back stairwell I passed the downstairs flat door. There came a great crash from the inside and immediately I heard the running of tiny footsteps across the bare hardwood floor. I was sure it came from the inside since I had heard children playing there before and it came from inside and not above where my son was playing on his game console. The footsteps were that of a tiny child as well, but my son at the time was almost seven years old- these were the frantic steps of a toddler.

I did not know at the time a neighbor that lives across the street was sure she had seen people moving in front of the large windows of the front room. But of course the apartment was empty.

When I heard the sounds and the report from the neighbor I was sure we had a haunting on our hands, but I was a little shocked when a few months later a new family moved into the lower flat.

They had two little children who not only ran across those hardwood floors constantly, but they were always getting into mischief as well. If it was not the sound of the small feet running to and fro the sound of heavy crashing was always coming from the apartment below.

Having lived there for over 6 years I had heard the running of children many times. But the rhythm and impact that I had heard from the phantom child in 2006 was the exact rhythm and impact of the children who now resided there.

This was not an ordinary family, they had many problems. Both parents had addiction and abuse problems. The children were taken from the home within a year because of abuse. Both parents were jailed.

A short time later I was praying in my makeshift prayer room that I had assembled in the attic. As I prayed there was an unearthly rattle on the floor and I felt a very evil presence. The sound was as if someone was dragging themselves roughly across the attic floor slowly making there way to me.

There was nothing there.

But the sound of the dragging body was clear and undistinguishable. I could actually pinpoint where the ‘thing’ was as it crawled toward me. Immediately I fell back into my training and I commanded the thing to leave in the name of Christ.

The sound stopped.

It never returned.

Since that time there was no longer any ‘strange’ activity in the two flats, at least to my knowledge. My son’s ‘ghost friend’ also never paid him another visit.

I am perplexed at what exactly was dwelling in that building. There were entities there, of this I am still sure of that. But the footsteps from the future really throws me to this day.

Was it an entity or a glimpse of the future? Many people have told me that the building might have been some sort of paranormal vortex, but I am still not sure. Could the turmoil the little children experienced at the hands of their abusive parents have formed this phenomenon as a sort of cry for help?

I have no idea.

All I know is what I experienced.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Note of Caution for Paranormal Investigators

This last year has been such a blessing. Since my decision to first publish some of my tales the paranormal community has welcomed me and made me feel so at home.

That you read this blog is to me a blessing, and when you ask me questions of a religious or paranormal nature I am doubly blessed.

In a year that has been personally very tough I have been given strength and encouragement.

Thank you all so much.

To my readership I give a heartfelt thanks that I can only say has been a gift from God.

Throughout this year I have had some struggles in the subject of the paranormal that I may have raised but I have not fully voiced.

But I just have a fear and dread for some who have just begun to explore the dark corners of the earth.

Not to mince words I will just say it.

I fear by then end of this decade (and beyond) we will see a devastating toll in the ranks of paranormal investigators.

Many will face debilitating illness and those who have minor illnesses will see an increase to their inflictions.

I speak not of physical illness but mental ones.

Those of you who have come to know me in this blog should know that I never confuse a mental health issue with an instance of demonic oppression or infestation.

I know SO many that have mental health issues that the church has misguidedly assumed to be demonic and proceeded to cause more psychological damage to innocent victims that the numbers actually overwhelm me at times.

Instead of the peace that they sought in the church, they find that condemnation, judgment and misunderstanding. A place of solace for them has been transformed into yet another arena for them to be cast off as wrenched refuse.

It is a shame of indignity on the church as a whole in some circumstances and a cause for looming judgment for many Christians who think they live a prefect life yet choose to demean others who have no control over their circumstances.

No, I do not want you to confuse my compassion with my fears on this subject.

I fear that many Paranormal investigators in their zeal to uncover issues of the paranormal have unleashed forces in their lives which they have no control over. Forces that they are truly unprepared to face while trying to function in their normal day to day life apart from their ‘investigations’.

The issue at hand is how many handle encounters with various entities while in their investigations. I have observed an increasing number of individuals relating that they are trying to carry on a conversation with entities whose position and power they have no knowledge of. It is as if they are long lost friends with whom they are trying to catch up.

Even in the face of possible physical manifestation.

Let me just forewarn you that if the entity that you have been called on to investigate has in the past manifested itself physically in the real world you need to keep your guard up and be VERY cautious.

Even without such manifestations you still need to be very cautious when trying to communicate with entities.

The Bible warns about communications with spirits, and with good reason.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 commands,

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD,.” NKJV.

Now as a good Biblical deconstructionist I of course have to ask why the Bible condemns such practices. Of course the easy answer that most Evangelicals and Fundamentalists would give is because in participating in these practices you are wandering into the Devil’s territory. Doing any of these things is and of itself ‘satanic’. However there are examples in the Bible where the Holy Men of history are participating in these very things.

Joseph apparently practiced divination. In Genesis 44:1-5 Joseph has servants put his ‘silver divination cup’ into his younger brother’s baggage in a ruse to reunite his unsuspecting family.

In Judges 6:35-37, Gideon a Judge of Israel used a fleece in the same way as soothsayers used various others objects to divine the future.

And in the book of Acts the remaining 11 Apostles draw lots to pick a replacement for Judas.

All of these practices are either the same ones condemned in Deuteronomy or bear a close resemblance in both form and substance to them.

So the command to not participate in these occult practices must have a deeper underlying meaning.

I feel they are condemned rituals because one can easily come into contact with demonic spirits while doing them and because of the nature of the practices one can easily become ensnared and manipulated by said evil entities.

These practices fall under the umbrella of the forbidden rites of communication with spirits.

Now why does the Bible and other religious tomes warn against communication with disembodied spirits?

Because they lie.

They lie very good.


Sometimes it seems as if they can read your mind and find the weakest spot of your psyche on which to feed upon.

And they want you to believe the lies they spit forth.

They want you to believe in them. To let your guard down.

They want power. Power over YOU.

They want to control you.

I know a woman who has spent most of her life in the church and whose life has been one of caring and giving. She is not just a religious woman, she is a spiritual woman. But she has spent most of her life in bondage. She was addicted to asking advice from her Ouija board. She would not make any decision no matter how small without asking her board first. And the board answered her with precise clarity. She told me it had a real personality of its own. It even told her unknown secrets and predicted the future. The spirit of the board became her best friend and confidant. Soon though she felt trapped by the spirit of the board and told her son, who was a church Elder, of her dabbling with the occult. In a solemn ritual they took the board out to the backyard and put it in a burning barrel.

It would not burn.

She is just one example, I know of many others who have been ensnared by the power of divination.

Demonic entities have one goal: to harm as many as they can. They hate human beings and will do anything to make their lives miserable.

And they can latch on to anyone who gives them undue attention or power. Letting the entity have control in an investigation feeds it and allows it develop a bond with the person who allows it to have control in a conversation.

I am not talking about asking simple questions or tasks that would assist in determining if there is an intelligent entity in the place of investigation. I am talking about those investigators who have drawn conclusions about the entity before any evidence as to its nature or origin is determined and they assume that the entity is the spirit is a deceased individual and try to ‘get to know it’.

Malevolent entities love the attention and would love to get to know the interviewer in an up close and personal way.

Powerful Demonic entities do seem to have some sort of telepathic or at least empathic ability. Whether they can actually read minds or have been around humans for so many millennia that they can predict human thought and behavior is a discussion for another day. That they have the ability to latch on to unsuspecting victims and affect them emotionally and psychologically is well documented and is the basis for demonic possession. But possession is a rarity, even though some popular television shows would like to have us think otherwise for the sake of the spectacular.

More common is Demonic oppression. It is when a dark entity latches onto a person and although it does not control the individual it does manipulate. Some signs of Demonic oppression are changes in personality, depression, suicidal or uncontrollable thoughts, addictions, increased severity of pre-existing psychological problems, undiagnosable physical ailments and poltergeist phenomena. Now the presence of any of these conditions does not mean Demonic oppression, but if they happen to manifest themselves after an encounter with an entity it might be a sign of an infestation. Of course even then it could be a natural occurrence and have nothing to do with the demonic at all, so caution mixed with wisdom and discretion is advised. If they are caused by Demonic oppression, in the long run normal treatments will not work. In fact the conditions might actually get worse. And the common wisdom of our current culture is to treat many of these conditions with pharmaceuticals, which will only hide the symptoms or exacerbate things.

What is needed is spiritual guidance and cleansing.

You need to find yourself a reputable person who has had training and experience in these areas. Sometimes that is hard to find.

In talking with a few associates I have decided to try to compile a national/international database of those who have both training and experience in the field of Demonology and spiritual deliverance or Exorcism to handle any such problems if the need arises. Those on the database could also be consulted in investigations as well.

The list is growing and we are hoping to compile it and distribute it within a few months. Of course it will be an ongoing project with names being included and updates being distributed periodically. The completed list will be distributed to all those included and to various paranormal investigative teams that wish to participate across the globe. Anyone in the general public who needs these services as well will be able to get in touch with anyone on the list through various contacts that shall be web accessible.

If you have had experience and training in Demonology and/or Deliverance-Exorcism please send you name, address, phone number, e-mail, limit of geographical area you would wish to travel in (most are saying within 100 miles from home) and a brief description of your experience or training to: .

Let’s fight the darkness together.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Grave Eaters

Right after the turmoil of WW2 and the reclamation of the Philippines by the Allies from the scourge of the invading Japanese forces, Christian Missionaries that had fled during the War finally came back to the islands to tend to the flocks that they had left behind.

Indeed there was an influx of Missionaries, because many who had been attending College and Seminary during the war years and had missed out in service during the war felt an obligation to reach out with love and healing to those who had suffered so much in those years of turmoil.

The Maknamar’s were of such ilk who had decided to dedicate their lives to heal the wounds that war had inflicted on the innocent no matter what the cost. And to them the cost was very high. Both Dennis and Marian had been raised in pre-war suburban America. They were not gilded by possessions as those who dwell in suburbia in our modern age.

They had suffered through the great depression.

Although times were tough it was not as bad for them as it had been for others. They had not lost anything in the crash of the stock market but the ramifications of the fall of 1929 echoed into the heartland where they grew up. To be truthful their lives were more severely impacted by the war rationing of WW2 than that of the Great Depression itself.

While in Seminary the common meal was greasy pan fried potatoes and onions. Meat was a commodity they neither could afford nor find. Instead it went to the troops who valiantly went forward to safeguard the earth from the Axis threat of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. They did not complain by doing without, they were grateful for those brave young men who served and gave their lives to secure a world free from such oppressive dictatorships. And in their deprivation of luxuries they felt camaraderie with the fighting men of the US military. It heightened their resolve to help those innocent victims who were feeling the desolation of War, those who neither had potatoes nor onions. Those thrown out into the jungle and who were lucky to find a pan let alone a fire to cook by.

So when they were able to serve they jumped at the chance. In their resolve to serve they chose most remote and hard hit locations they could find. When word came down from the headquarters of the Missionary council they were not disappointed, they were called to serve in the hard hit and impoverished town of Buangong several miles from the major city of Cagayan de Oro in the southern Isle of Mindanao.

The Maknamar’s family had descended from mountain folk from Western Pennsylvania, good and hearty Pennsylvania Dutch from the heartland of Germanic mountains. They knew how to survive off the land. They knew how to make do. With personal tragedy and experience they meager means they knew how to make do without the basics. They knew how to live and be thankful when others might grumble and complain.

They knew how to survive in the tough times.

But nothing prepared them to face the experiences they would encounter while at the Missionary station in Buangong all those long years ago.

One of Dennis’s duties was to help out in the funeral rites when a local passed away. Although the indigenous Pastors were the ones who presided over the services Mr. Maknamar’s assistance in prayer and support was expected and greatly appreciated.

It was during the funeral of an elderly grandmother that he heard some of the family murmering about their fear for the body if it were to be buried on the hillside graveyard where the family had plots. There was something disturbing the graves, and parts of bodies were missing from those newly buried.

They were sure that an Aswang was at work. And they feared the body of the grandmother would be its next victim.

A bit confused and unfamiliar with the term he asked the family why the police could not stop the grave robbers.

With whispered voices they corrected the young Missionary that they were not talking about mere grave robbers. The Aswang was a demonic spirit who lived off the rotting bodies of the dead. It would feast on the newly buried in order to maintain its hold in the physical world. Later after it had finished its gory meal it would replace the body with sticks and leaves from the nearby forest. There would be literally nothing left of the corpse after it was consumed, there was no waste. The dead body would replenish the Aswang’s physical form until its unholy hunger began to once again make it ethereal.

It seems the local cemeteries had been plagued for years with the terror of at least one Aswang. Some were completely abandoned for new burials, but when the families went to other cemeteries after a while the graves were found disturbed as well and when disinterred they found the familiar twisted foliage that the demonic spirit would leave behind after a meal.

It had struck twice in the last month at the hillside cemetery in which the grandmother was suppose to be laid to rest. In fact the creature was sighted late one evening running into the thick underbrush carrying off a gruesome morsel to sustain itself.

To Mr. Maknamar this was all a bunch of superstitious nonsense. He had been in the church for years and had never seen anything supernatural. He even doubted the miraculous, for he was raised in a church that believed miracles and supernatural events in a life of faith died along with the last apostle thousands of years ago. This was a different era, one of reasoned faith not of superstitious beliefs and fairy tales.

Although he did not believe in the Aswang, Dennis Maknamar knew that someone or something must be behind the grave robberies and he felt it was his duty to break this bondage to superstition that held the indigenous people in fear.

So he volunteered to camp out at the graveyard at night for a week, to confront this ‘demon’.

The family was in awe of the fearlessness of the young Missionary for there had never been anyone who dared confront an Aswang before. The Filipino pastor’s of the area volunteered to help out by prayer and fasting as the headstrong American confronted the monster in its lair.

So Dennis Maknamar pitched a tent next to the grave of the old Filipino grandmother, and waited to see what awaited him as he preformed his morbid vigil in the still of darkness. He did not, however, come unprepared. He brought along a military issue pistol that his brother had gave to him as a gift after he had returned from the European theater just the year before.

The first two nights went by without incident.

But at around 2 in the morning on the third evening watch Mr. Maknamar was awoken from a light sleep by a strange noise.

It was a slobbering wet sound.

As if someone without teeth were trying to eat thickly sauced spare ribs.

Removing the pistol from under his pillow Dennis pulled the hammer back and pushed open the tent flap.

All he saw at first was nothing but darkness. And the sickening slobber in the night stopped.

Then he heard the rustling of the underbrush and saw the thing dash into a thicket. Although its full shape was hidden in shadows he saw a small hunched back creature that resembled a twisted naked body of an old man. Except the color was different, it was not the color of any flesh he had seen, for it was light and almost translucent. As the creature bent to duck under the thicket it looked back at the young Missionary and he saw a dull green glow reflecting in the eyes of the thing as if from some unseen fire. And it the creatures mouth there was a half eaten arm.

That was when he quickly raised his hand and fired the pistol straight into the creatures face. He saw the thing’s head real back from the impact and the arm fly out of its mouth.

Then it was gone.

A few of the praying pastors ran up the hillside from their post at the gravedigger’s house to see what had happened. But there was nothing to see but a disturbed grave and a shaking American man holding a freshly fired pistol at the dismembered arm of the recently buried Filipino grandmother.

It took Dennis a few days to truly regain his composure, and he was sure of what he saw. He had just taken a step into a larger Universe. He had no idea what to do about the Aswang, but he knew that whatever was to be done about the creature he was ill prepared to deal with this otherworldly abomination.

So eventually they called in a Catholic Priest from a neighboring Providence who knew how to deal with demonic forces. He cleansed and reclaimed the graveyards and the ghoulish activities soon ceased.

Things eventually returned back to normal, and after the decades rolled on few locals remembered the incidents that happened in graveyards of Buangong. But Dennis Maknamar would never forget what he encountered that dark evening. For from that time on he could never again dismiss the supernatural as mere folk tales and superstitions. And his world would never be the same.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope

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