The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts

Review copyright 2006 by Jonathan Zap

It is no great accomplishment to hear a voice in the head. The accomplishment is to make sure that it is telling you the truth, because the demons are of many kinds:
“Some are made of ions, some of mind; the ones of ketamine, you’ll find, stutter often and are blind.”

—Terence McKenna in The Archaic Revival

The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts is a spell binding paranormal detective story, elegantly written, and as haunting and irresistible as its title implies. The implications of what British paranormal investigator and writer Joe Fisher discovers, at the apparent cost of his life, are staggering, and have such profound implications for all inhabitants of this particular plane of reality, that as over the top as this may sound, this book may be one of the more important ever written.

The title capsulates, in perfect microcosm, the subject of the book, and also the effect of the book on the reader…at least this reader. I actually had a paranormal experience the last night of reading this book, which I will relate later, that was of a type related to phenomena reported in the book and also related to the “mind parasite” subject which I have written about extensively. This book is itself a rabbit hole, a rabbit hole with a certain suction, an undertow pulling you in as the author is pulled into an ever more high stakes involvement with the phenomenon.

Joe Fisher experiences the classic pitfall of the paranormal researcher. He begins as an observer, but becomes ever more obsessed and affected, even over-powered by the object of investigation.

If you fight monsters, be careful that you don’t become a monster. If you gaze over long into an abyss, the abyss gazes back at you. —-Nietzche

This is the sort of book that carries with it an element of danger for the reader; it has an irresistible allure like an over ripe fruit hanging lowly on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a fruit I found myself reaching for at the very first moment I heard mention of the book’s title.

Essentially, this book pulls back the veil on the channeling and spirit guide phenomena, and compels you to look, through a glass darkly, at evil in one of its more beautiful, complex, seductive, ingeniously manipulative forms. While it is dangerous to be unaware of such dark possibilities and manipulative entities, it may also be dangerous to cast your attention in their direction. Attention is not just internal, it is also a beacon visible to others, and not all of those others are visible to us. That’s one of several reasons I am providing a fairly extensive review of this book. I will also announce a bail out point for those of you who are actually prepared to hunt down this book and read it in the immediate future. But if you are not sure that you are going to make that a top priority, then at least read this review, because the findings of this investigation are much too significant to be overlooked. Better yet, read the review and get this book which is a classic in the field of paranormal investigation and deserves an honored place in your personal library.

In case I’ve been too luke warm in my praise of this book, let me add that it has intense entertainment value to read, finely crafted sentences, perceptive details of people and places, observations that are nuanced and multi-layered, a narrator who earns his reliability as a witness even as he descends into the most unreliable of circumstances.

The flowing succession of events and realizations has a haunting, gothic effect on the reader, like a Palantir that compels and obsesses your attention, but without excessively distorting your view. And if that wasn’t enough praise to make this book shimmer darkly in your mind’s eye, and compel you to read it with the obsessive attention it deserves, I don’t know what else to say….

Joe Fisher began his investigation of the channeling phenomenon after completing an investigation into reincarnation and publishing The Case for Reincarnation. Summarizing his attitude toward that subject, Fisher includes a wonderfully incisive quote from Voltaire,

“It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”

Near the end of the book, Fisher quotes William James, the great Harvard based pioneer in the psychological study of spiritual phenomena, who said in 1909 after completing a study of mediumship,

“The refusal of modern ‘enlightenment’ to treat ‘possession’ as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the massive human tradition based on concrete human experience in its favor, has always seemed to me a curious example of the power of fashion in things ‘scientific.’ That the demon theory…will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely certain. One has to be ‘scientific’ indeed to be blind and ignorant enough to suspect no such possibility.”

(This might be a good bail out point for those of you who are going to read the book soon, because I am about to go right into the content and situations of the book.)

At the very first channeling session Fisher attends, a very eloquent and charismatic spirit guide named Russell (who claims a very specific prior incarnation in the 19th century) speaks through a young woman named Aviva who is suffering from leukemia. The setting is Aviva’s apartment in Toronto. Russell introduces himself to Joe and tells him that he has a spirit guide, a woman named Filipa, whom he has supposedly known for many lifetimes. Their last incarnation together was in the 18th century in a village in Greece where they were lovers ostracized by the community. Filipa, unlike Joe, chose not to reincarnate again after this 18th Century incarnation. Speaking through Russell, Filipa immediately demonstrates a shrewd understanding of Joe’s psychology. She recognizes his history of unstable romantic relationships, and places their last earthly relationship in Greece, a country Joe had lived in and with which he had particularly positive associations. Russell relates,

“She says this was, for her, during the immediate past life in Greece. You were a male and she was a female. You were to be her suitor. However, you both transgressed in the eyes of the community. You were sent from the village and did not return. She says she did not wish for this to happen. However, the village is more powerful than the one.”

Joe immediately felt seduced by this discarnate lover and the mythic star-crossed lover scenario, while his “skeptic inside screamed in protest.”

The medium, Aviva, is a laboratory technician who suffers from leukemia, and is at first highly skeptical and resistant to the channeling sessions which she cannot remember when brought out of trance. Tapes of the sessions are played for Aviva revealing a number of distinct disincarnate beings, each with their own accent and speech patterns and highly specific knowledge unknown to her waking personality. Russell, who presents himself as Aviva’s guide, spends much time being solicitous for Aviva’s fragile physical health, offering at times specific warnings and advice. At other times he offers intriguing metaphysical philosophy.

When Joe’s real life girlfriend, Rachel, attends a session, her guide immediately emerges and with his own distinctive accented voice, a thick Scottish brogue, and he provides specific details of past lifetimes he and Rachel have supposedly spent together and an acute understanding of some of Rachel’s predilections. Rachel finds herself inexplicably repulsed by the sessions and feels “a certain intangible negativity in the air.” Joe believes that Rachel is increasingly jealous of the intimate lover-like bond between him and Filipa, and feels that this accounts for her resistance to the sessions. Ultimately, Rachel would leave Joe after he becomes ever more obsessed with his discarnate lover and guide.

Both Russell and Filipa seem very offended when anyone refers to them as “spirits.” On one occasion Filipa says,

“And you use that awful word again. Spirits! There are no spirits. We are all people. People are people. It is your own growth…which is the most important thing you should be seeking. There is nothing Spiritual or ethereal about it. We all come from the same place and we will all arrive at the same place. We are all people. We are not spirits.”

Joe observes about the strengthening connection between him and his discarnate lover,

“Filipa and I seemed to think alike, feel alike and see the world from a near-identical perspective. Knowing that she understood my motives, my behavior and my reactions better than I did myself both confirmed my belief in Filipa and left me feeling intensely vulnerable. I learned to accept this vulnerability and grew to trust that she would not exploit my defenselessness. No matter what I said or how I said it, my words were always interpreted just as I had intended them to be….Much more than a subject of research and a wellspring of information on discarnate life, Filipa rapidly became an adviser, a best friend. And my ideal lover. Sometimes I fantasized about our sex life in eighteenth-century Greece and imagined with relish the passion that would erupt if only we could be together again, sharing hungry bodies as well as hungry minds.”

Later Joe remarks,

“If Filipa could have assumed a physical body, I’m sure I would have married her. But she was only a voice, a voice that resonated with more love, compassion and perspicacity than any I had ever known. Within the space of a few months, she had demonstrated an acute awareness of my feelings and foibles, she knew the people in my life and their effect upon me, and was even able to relate specific circumstances in which I had found myself, situations unknown to Aviva or anyone who attended what Filipa chose to call our ‘groupings.”

“Somehow, Filipa had to be either living inside me or hovering perpetually close by, picking up via some otherwordly antennae my organism’s every twitch and shudder. How else could she read my thoughts and feelings, sit in on my compositions at the computer keyboard, observe my contacts with others, assess my health and nutrition, listen to the jazz and rock ‘n roll that I played on the stereo—‘noises,’ she called it—and even hear the tunes I habitually hummed in my head? ‘I can see energies,’ is how she explained her ability to know me inside out. ‘I can see in your mind. If you make in your mind, I can see.’ ”

Joe adds,

The guides were doing much to enrich our quality of life, both emotionally and materially. They often displayed the ability to read the state of our physical bodies and prescribe minerals, foods and medicinal herbs to enhance performance and well-being. Russell would occasionally perform psychometry—-that is, while turning over in “his” hands a personal item belonging to someone unknown to himself and Aviva, he would give incisive readings as to the individual’s character and personality.

One of the more convincing guides to speak through Aviva was a discarnate named Ernest who claimed to have been an RAF pilot during WW II. Specifically, he claimed to be Flying Officer William Alfred Scott of 99 Squadron, Group Three, Bomber Command. He offered up the most specific details, including slang words known only to a subset of WW II RAF pilots. He claimed, for example, that his squadron had to sleep in the grandstand at Newmarket Racecourse. Research uncovered a photograph which showed that, in fact, members of this particular squadron did indeed sleep at the grandstand of Newmarket Racecourse. On the other hand, Ernest would sometimes lapse into American diction in pronouncing certain words. Convincing spiritual aspects were interwoven with the extremely specific details.

During his few years as a bomber pilot, Ernest said that he was convinced he was acting impeccably in fighting what he felt was humanity’s last war against “the little clown,” Adolf Hitler. But he told how his return to the between-life state changed his self-assessment, bringing the realization that he had incurred karmic debt with all the victims of his bombing raids—debts that he was now obliged to repay. “Now that I’m here,” he said ruefully, “I can think only of all the deaths in which I played a part.” This, then, was the reason for Ernest’s overweening sadness and remorse. He was carrying the burden of having been a mass-murderer in a worthy cause.

The sessions with Aviva took place in her apartment in Toronto, but in February of 1986 Joe missed some sessions to fly to England to research the details of Ernest’s case. While Joe was flying across the Atlantic, Ernest was announcing, through Aviva in her apartment in Toronto, that he had made the decision to reincarnate, and would be leaving them in a few months,

It was said that a fetus had been located in southern England, a bodily “vehicle” placed in ideal circumstances to provide Ernest with the opportunity of repaying many of the karmic debts he had incurred.

In England Joe does an exhaustive search to confirm the identity of the discarnate airman William Alfred Scott, but there is not a trace of him in the records—no birth, death or military service. He plays tapes of sessions in which Ernest speaks to a couple of aging RAF pilots who had served with the 99 Squadron during WWII. The pilots listened with fascinated recognition, confirming the specific details, slang words etc. used by Ernest. Two of the RAF pilots even thought they recognized the person on the tapes as “ Scotty,” a Sergeant Malcolm Scott they knew, but no one anywhere had ever heard of a William Alfred Scott.

While Joe was in England he spent a few days visiting with his mother and told her about his frustration with the research.

My mother had an answer. It was predictable enough, I suppose, leaping straight out of years of Christian conditioning. “Demons,” she said, her voice quivering a little. “You’re talking to demons. And I don’t like the sound of it one bit.”

Meanwhile, back in Toronto, the once genial Ernest becomes hostile and threatening when he learns of Joe’s investigation, and complains that his privacy is being violated and that he doesn’t want living relatives contacted, etc. He admits that Joe may find discrepancies and threatens to withdraw himself and his charge from the sessions if the investigation continues.

Some time later there is a very emotional session in which Ernest takes his leave because it is time for him to be reincarnated. Joe asks Russell, Aviva’s guide, for details of Ernest’s reincarnation specifics, and the name and date of birth do check out, though the place is about thirty-five miles off. Joe even contacts the new parents, though understandably, they refuse to cooperate with his investigation.

Joe furthers his investigation by consulting other mediums who are channeling different guides. One of them is a young woman named Claire who channels a surgeon from Victorian England named Dr. Pinkerton. Dr. Pinkerton is very charming, and like the other guides, full of the most specific details of his past incarnation. When Joe asks him about his spirit guide, the information provided by Dr. Pinkerton does not match up well with that provided by Filipa. Even more troubling, Dr. Pinkerton seems to encourage Joe to have sex with Claire, and claims that Filipa would approve of this,

“ Filipa’s got so much give,” he said, “and when there’s a female vibration that is sincere around you, she trusts that vibration and she feels the same as if she’s touching you, Son. Especially through a medium. Making love to a medium who pours out love. It is a wonderful, wonderful journey.”

We later learn that Russell tried to manipulate a sexual relationship between Aviva and a member of her group, a married man named Sanford Ellison who at Russell’s direction had become her hypnotist and healer. But neither Sanford nor Aviva were interested in such a liaison, and the manipulations led to them breaking off contact. One interpretation, that occurred to me, was that if the guides were a puppet show being created by the unconscious of the mediums, one could see how Claire’s unconscious, for example, might want to manipulate a sexual relationship with handsome Joe Fisher. But most of the evidence points to a far more troubling possibility, that it is the discarnate beings who want to experience sex and/or partake of the energy exchanged through their mediums.

A peculiar dynamic develops where the guides speaking through one medium begin to warn Joe about the guides speaking through another medium and vice-a-versa. Dr. Pinkerton also warns Joe about going to Greece, and tells him that he will find pain and danger there. Joe returns to Europe and investigates the very specific details of Russell’s past incarnation. He is shocked and disillusioned to find that, as with Ernest, while many specifics prove valid, his identity, birth and death, and many other crucial details appear to be lies. Next he travels to Greece and discovers that his beloved Filipa’s details are also a mixture of truth and lies. Particularly disturbing is a shocking anachronism—-Filipa’s references to Alexandroupolis, a place name not coined until long after her last incarnation. The buzzing in his ears, which he had learned to associate with Filipa trying to communicate with him, takes on a furious intensity as he uncovers that his discarnate beloved is also a deceiver. Dr. Pinkerton’s warning proves out, because Greece becomes a place of extremely painful disillusionment for Joe.

Joe returns to Toronto in a state of exasperation, anxiety and self-loathing. Most of the members of the medium group surrounding Aviva refuse the evidence that the guides are not who they claim to be. Joe, however, finds himself recovering from the malign influence the guides have had on him,

In the course of several days’ brooding and reassessment, my prolonged disillusionment was transformed into a reinforced sense of self, a sense of self that I had long ago surrendered, albeit unconsciously, to Filipa, Russell and the others. Little by little, I reclaimed my personal identity, realizing all the while how much I had lived a shadow life since becoming a member of the group. With developing clarity, I saw how subtly and how stealthily I had become dependent on Filipa, how in questioning my every move and motive I had deferred again and again to what I believed she had expected of me. The buzzing in my ears—so harsh and abusive in Greece —gradually retreated and I stoically avoided any contact with Filipa, whoever she was…I was managing to extricate myself from the guides’ gentle tyranny.

Joe summons his will to confront the guides with the findings of his research. Russell responds with defensive denial and many forms of brilliant manipulation. Filipa will not come forward to answer the charges,

“No,” Russell was adamant. “You’ve shut her out. You’ve quite completely shut her out. I don’t think she’d have the energies. She says, “If the value of that truth and love that you’ve had between you is to be undervalued because you cannot find Alexandroupolis, what basis is your life being lived on? Is it being lived only on the superficial ‘I can touch, I can see, I can feel,’ or is it being lived in your heart, where the truth resides?”

Even as Joe is now able to see through the manipulation, the brilliance of it is staggering,

“Filipa’s charge, let me tell you one thing,” Russell was adopting his professorial demeanor. “The only way that you can ever go deeper is to go into yourself, not out of yourself. The truth lies within you as the truth lies within all. Why do you think that billions on the earthbound plane still attend church? It’s a deep and abiding belief with no proof. Less proof than you have of reincarnation, less proof than you have of us…You cannot prove the existence of the guides, for we are not here on the earthbound plane. All we can hope to do is to keep you intact until your transition and, in this manner, to impart to you the knowledge we have for your own lives…

“I really don’t know that any of you really grasp what it is to guide someone. We don’t sit here with puppet strings and pull you this way and push you that way. We still have our own forward development to get on with, and we must ensure the safety of our charges to the best of our ability at all times…Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do, Russell, but I’m forced to step back and I’m forced to think about possible alternatives.”

Russell continues to challenge Joe, who is now the one apostate in a group that consists mostly of true believers. Underneath his metaphysical double talk Russell is essentially saying, “What are you going to believe, your lying eyes or our discarnate voices?”

“So what are your alternatives? I’d like to hear this.”

“Well, that instead of being a real guide you might be just a part of your charge’s subconscious mind, that you might be a past-life personality as you have indicated that other so-called guides are. And I think about people such as Emanuel Swedenborg, the great Swedish clairvoyant, who warned very specifically about communicating with entities in the next world. …He warned about the dangers of evil spirits who will use all manner of subtlety, brilliance and affection to reach you.”

“To what end?”

“I don’t know, Russell.”

“You must dig further if you’re a true researcher as you say. To what end would someone give you the information of the type that has been given? To what end would someone open the learning to you that you have been given? To what end? What would that end entail?”

Joe responds that he doesn’t know, and Russell brilliantly presses his attack, succeeding, at least for other members of the group, of getting Joe on the defensive and redefining a situation in which his false identity has been exposed into a lesson an exasperated teacher is trying to offer to an errant and stubborn student,

“You unfortunately cannot do this outside the earthbound framework. Now when you say this man, Emanuel…what?”


“Swedenborg. What was he warning against?”

“He was warning about evil spirits.”

“Lower astral individuals.”

“He would warn about the influence of evil spirits who only wanted your downfall. They spoke about love and they spoke about goodness and they ostensibly wanted the best for you, but really they didn’t.”

“But how could you be downfalled if you are free to choose, free to challenge?”

“Well, we are free to choose but, of course, the guides have influenced everybody in this group. The guides have exerted influence to a great degree. You know that.”

“We work only with our charges.”

Russell’s last comment should be self-evident falsehood to anyone in the group still capable of critical thinking. Joe is Filipa’s charge, and Russell’s charge is Aviva, but right now Russell is working Joe very much indeed. Joe responds,

“But having been here week after week talking to everybody, you well know the influence that you have over people.”

“We give you information. I do not think we give you influence whatsoever. If you choose to allow it to influence your behavior, that is your choice. We do not offer anything that is not asked for.”

“But inasmuch as you say you are our guides and you want the best for us and you are working with us to help us do better, for forward development…if we accept what you are saying then of course you’re going to influence us.”

“I have told you all along not to accept and I don’t have to justify my existence against your existence.”

And it goes on, a spell binding wrestling match between a paranormal investigator and a false idol refusing to be cast down. Russell, with the rhetorical skill of a cornered Saruman, wriggles out of the grasp of reason like a slippery eel, and although Joe continues to confront, members of the group intervene coming to Russell’s defense,

“You said to me a long time ago, ‘Research your research.’ I have researched my research and I have not found anybody.”

“You have not found concrete earthbound evidence. But if I were to meet you, Filipa’s charge, at your transition, would that convince you?”

“Yes, I would love you to meet me, Russell, and I hope you do.”

“Well, I can’t because I’m not your guide.”

Helen spoke up once more in Russell’s defense.

“Joe, if Sonji’s charge here gave me the address to her house and I drove into that particular part of the city and couldn’t find her house, can I blame her for my inability to find the house?”

Helen joins Russell in blaming Joe for all the disconfirmations he has uncovered of Russell’s past incarnation and she uses all sorts of absurd chop logic to defend her absolute faith in the guides,

“Listen, Joe,” urged Helen, slapping her hand against the carpet on which she was sitting. “You know this is a floor. You’ve stepped on this and you know it’s floor. You’ve proved it to yourself. Once you’ve proved something to yourself, how can you go back and say it isn’t so?”

“He has come to his own conclusions, Mi-Lao’s charge,” offered Russell.

Russell skillfully deflects Joe’s continuing challenges and takes back control over the session, moving on to a long lecture on the nature of karma. Afterwards, Joe again tries to confront Russell, and again he skillfully reframes the challenge as Joe’s lapse, accusing him of excavating trivia that is only serving to distract the guides from working with their charges. Russell adds,

“I don’t want to seem harsh because you and I have been very good friends.”

“We have…”

“And I don’t see that that should change. I am simply saying: ‘There are other ways to look. Yours is not the only way.’ The information that was given to you is there. If it were not there, we would have said so.”

Joe responds,

“For my part, I will endeavor to remain open-minded. I’ve been totally honest with you today, as I’ve had to be.”

“Course you have,” Russell agreed magnanimously. “How else does one engender respect unless one is honest? If you lie, deceive and cheat there is absolutely no respect and, therefore, no confidence. But you also have to respect us…”

I’ve given some large samples of this particular dialogue to give an idea of how brilliantly manipulative these guides are. There is much more fascinating dialogue in the book based on transcripts of taped sessions, and most of it is far more convincing as the guides are usually not being confronted with discrepancies but are providing all sorts of specific information, much of which proves out, and this is interspersed with intriguing metaphysical philosophy.

Joe appears to be the only one in the group to notice how ingeniously Russell is manipulating them. Although Fisher never suggests the possibility (which suggests a continuing level of successful manipulation), I got the distinct impression that Aviva was channeling a single shape-shifting entity who, like the devil, “hath power to assume a pleasing shape” and was capable of performing a whole cast of characters of both genders. One has to wonder if part of Joe’s psyche was not still under the influence of perceiving Filipa as a separate entity that he does not discuss what seems such an obvious possibility.

Another very strange aspect of the entities is that they leave blinds, or discrepancies that an astute observer is bound to uncover. Fisher wonders why the entities, who are able to command such specific knowledge of various times and places of the past, don’t pick actual names of people from those past times and places which would make the debunking of their claims much more difficult or impossible. He asks the question, but doesn’t speculate about why. This is pure speculation of course, but I can think of several possibilities. The first possibility to consider, though I think the evidence leans away from it, is that the psyche of the medium is the source of the information. There is a phenomenon called “cryptoamnesia” where a person displays arcane knowledge unknown to their waking personality, but which research uncovers was once exposed to them as a child, etc. This seems quite unlikely, as does the possibility of conscious fraud by the mediums, as the voluminous details of multiple past time lines would require the most difficult research, finding information in a pre-internet era that could only be found in particular archives in other countries thousands of miles away. A paranormal variation on this possibility would involve an unconsciously psychic medium whose unconscious psyche accesses arcane, but error ridden, information out of the collective unconscious/Akashic Record and uses it to generate multiple personalities in the trance state. Another possibility is is that the entities have the ability to access information about prior time lines, but the process is imperfect. Perhaps they are able to read living minds which provide them information, but some of the information they read is erroneous. Perhaps the entities are neurotic and unconsciously go over the top in their deceptions, as many human pathological liars do, and end up tripping themselves up. Or maybe part of their sport is to see how successfully they can manipulate people, so that even when they include errors they are still able to pull the puppet strings. Or maybe they enjoy the terror and painful disillusion that will happen to some who uncover the errors? The problem is that once paranormal possibilities are allowed, and I think they have to be allowed, they inevitably tend to exponentiate because we now have to consider so many novel causal vectors that fundamentalist materialists can conveniently discard.

Unfortunately, a classic flaw I notice again and again in paranormal research is that the research will tend to assume that if there is an anomaly, only a particular paranormal causal vector must be responsible. For example, EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) researchers assume that if they capture an anomalous voice on their recorder while walking through a cemetery, for example, that the source must be a ghost of some sort. They never, as far as I can tell, after listening to many, many hours of various EVP researchers discussing their work, consider that there could be a paranormal ventriloquism at work and that their own unconscious psyches could be the source of the recorded voices. A couple of EVPs I have heard strongly point toward that possibility. Another common presumption is that even if multiple paranormal causal vectors are considered, that there must be only one true one to be discovered. But there could be multiple causalities, so that some EVPs may be paranormal ventriloquisms while others may derive from entities or other exotic causes. Some UFOs may be exteriorizations of the collective unconscious, as Jung speculated, while others may be entities in shape-shifting energy bodies, while maybe still another group are material crafts containing actual extraterrestrials.

It is a frustrating but very real problem in paranormal research that it is hard to falsify or eliminate competing paranormal vectors of causality. My approach to paranormal investigation is to withhold from the premature closure onto too definite and exclusive a theory, because once you invest in a particular theory you burden your observational powers with an enormous a priori constraint, and inevitably tend to corral evidence to support your pet theory. The mind and the ego hate ambivalence and ambiguity, and would understandably love to settle on one definite explanation, but this tendency creates gigantic distortions in both normal and paranormal research. Fundamentalist materialist scientism eliminates the paranormal as even a possibility, but with similar habits of mind, many paranormal investigators reach premature closure onto only one paranormal possibility, and then become true believers and self-righteous proselytizers of this particular theory.

I am not accusing Joe Fisher of this tendency, because he is such an exemplary researcher and was so inevitably led toward viewing the guides as malign and deceiving entities by his actual experience. Many of the additional possibilities I am suggesting may have occurred to him, and he may have chosen not to write about them because they are so speculative or because they could help people rationalize participation with a phenomenon which he discovered to be extremely dangerous.

Continuing to speculate, perhaps the entities are compelled, by inner or outer causes, to include erroneous information so as not to overwhelm the free will of the human participants with revelations that are 100% verifiable. This could be explained as the mythic scenario of a demon under some sort of divine constraint to leave a calling card for the astute adept that shows that they are a diabolical agent. Alternatively, we have the classic device of the alchemists and great hermetic teachers of leaving “blinds,” intentional errors to sidetrack the unworthy and challenge the worthy initiates to validate things for themselves. Discussing this case with Rob Brezsny (, he pointed out that in the Tarot the Devil card is actually the archangel Uriel in disguise, a benevolent teacher who uses deception to teach us difficult lessons about not relying too much on external guides, for example.

Some of these exotic possibilities came to mind after Joe’s confrontation with the Russell entity. After the session, Joe felt the stirrings of a vague memory of an earlier session in which Russell had commented at length about manipulation. In an earlier session Russell had asserted that Sanford Ellison was being “severely yet subtly manipulated by his wife, Betty.” As he reviews the transcript of this session, Joe feels like Russell, “…might as well have been on his knees in a confessional.” Here is Russell, perhaps brilliantly articulating his own path of manipulation while nominally discussing Betty and Sanford ,

Manipulation means overwhelming another with your energies. To do that, you have contempt for that person; you have disdain for yourself. You have no self-love and therefore cannot love another human. There is genuine desire to control, genuine desire to overwhelm and to have the manipulatee take on your energies to form, in essence, almost another “little you”…

If you close the door to love and open the door to control, you are a manipulator. If you close the door to self-esteem and self-love, you open the door to being manipulated…How manipulators do it is by altering their own core energies to fit, as much as a key would fit into a lock, the energies of the person that they want to manipulate. As that fit takes place, they draw the energies of the other person to them. Very slowly and carefully, they work on those energies and then project them back once they have been worked on and brought into the same type of energy pattern that they themselves have. Once that key is fitted into the lock, it is very easy to turn it at any time. And if the other person is not co-operating in being manipulated then they simply turn it a little more until they do…The manipulator simply supplants his own energies within the victim who begins to think, act and function very much in the mode of the person who is manipulating. However, the manipulator will often appear to be compliant, which gives the manipulatee the illusion of having some control.

Manipulation is subtle and is, at first, very rarely picked up on by the person being manipulated. Often, it takes some event to show the victim that he or she is being manipulated. And even then the control can be very difficult to break and can be very painful if it has been going on for a long time.
Manipulators tend either to embellish or lie outright when challenged. Even if caught with their hand taking the bread, they will somehow explain it away in falling back on the skills from which they first learned to manipulate…that is, lying… They have a variety of tricks in their bag that they will pull out to use as weapons for control and they will rotate those weapons as needed…You will often find that manipulators are most vehemently defended: a manipulator has staunch allies who are unwilling to believe that this dear, sweet person is using them.

This analysis of manipulation is not only incredibly perceptive, it is also prescient as it precedes the confrontation where staunch allies like Rachel came forward to defend Russell from Joe’s disconfirming research. The method of manipulation described by Russell had an eerie resonance for me, because in my fantasy epicParallel Journeys, there is an evil entity called the Viealeta, that uses precisely the same methods.

Following the confrontation with Russell, Joe looks up Sanford Ellison, the man whom Russell claims was being manipulated by his wife Betty. Sanford left the group some months before and told Joe to contact him if he ever wanted to hear about “the other side of the guides.”

The guides had directed Sanford to become Aviva’s hypnotist and healer. Aviva, the medium, was suffering with leukemia and the guides did display an acute awareness of the vicissitudes of her health. They used Sanford to deliver what appeared to be efficacious energetic healings,

“There was no question in Sanford ’s mind that he was channeling life-saving energies to Aviva’s entranced form. He was impressed by the guides’ obvious knowledge of her physical condition and his fingers would register varying degrees of heat or coolness according to the various types of energies which he was told Tuktu was transmitting through his hands to different parts of Aviva’s body…”

Sanford’s unorthodox attentions appeared to be making inroads as Aviva discovered that, despite occasional flare-ups, she had progressively less need of conventional treatment and medication. But if Aviva was showing signs of winning her battle against leukemia, Sanford found that the act of channeling energies left him feeling extraordinarily depleted and ill-at-ease. “It was as if my mind and my emotions had been totally scrambled.” He said.

The guides also conducted a systematic campaign to undermine his marriage with Betty,

“Slowly and stealthily, the guides talked Sandford into believing that Betty was cruelly yet subtly manipulating him…he was told that he was being overwhelmed by the energies of others and that Betty, especially, was smothering his energies with her own and manipulating him according to her wishes…

It was little wonder that Sanford bore scant resemblance to his former self: he was sinking into a deepening depression. The worse he felt, the more pressure the guides exerted. “They kept telling me stories about Betty,” Sanford continued. “They said that she was having affairs with lots of different men. They said that she was a pathological liar. They said that she was trying to kill me by projecting powerful negative energies my way. They even warned, on three separate occasions, that I would die unless I left her. Each ultimatum was different—they put limits of six months, nine months and three years on my life if I chose to stay with Betty.”

Simultaneously, the guides gently suggested that Sanford and Aviva had close reincarnation ties, had been drawn to one another by their shared karma and were meant to be together.

“Tuktu was trying to convince me,” said Sanford, “that if I wasn’t working with Aviva continuously, we would both come to an untimely end. And Russell kept telling me that Aviva and I had to express our love for one another and that she could take care of my physical needs. But the only feelings I had for her were of duty and responsibility. That’s how I got sucked in—by being told that she was going to die and that I was the only one who could help her.”

Tapes that Sandford made of private sessions with the guides reveal the heavily persuasive tactics that Russell employed in a concerted effort to bring Sandford and Aviva closer together both physically and emotionally. Maintaining that they were making a “lifetime commitment” to one another, Russell urged:

“Speak of your feelings with her and make her speak of hers with you. Sit together, look at each other, touch each other, and talk of them. It is very difficult to be honest where there are the slightest barriers between you. You have no barriers now except the barrier of distance, the barrier that neither of you has trusted another person to this extent in your entire earthbound lives. We are asking you to meet, look, mix your energies together by touching so that you are trusted by one another…When one wishes to communicate depth and understanding, that person is close to you and looks at you and touches you. Is that not so?”

“Yes.” Sandford acknowledged.

“Do it!” Russell commanded.

Although the work with the guides is in real life causing both Sanford ’s marriage and his business to unravel, his guide, Tuktu, makes the claim to Sandford,

“Without any guidance you would have lost your business, you would have lost your own family, you would have completely lost it all…and many other things of a negative nature would have happened to you.”

Tuktu’s counsel is that Sandford should leave his wife, Betty, though this is framed as if there is much sympathy for Betty in the proposed desertion,

“It is very difficult for her (Betty) to come to the realization that she must let go of you, that you have passed way beyond the soul planes which she inhabits. This is not reason enough for her to…wish to undergo a transformation. She just wants to stay with you. But one must move on to the areas where one is capable of functioning as an entity. It will not be uncommon for her to begin to cling very hard and very tenaciously…”

As Sandford’s desperation grew, the guides introduced new hope of salvation to their foundering victim. Tuktu told Sandford that his problems were compounded because his emotional centers were shut down. With the guide’s help, they could be opened in the cause of his well-being. “Wherever I could feel heat under my skin,” said Sandford, “the guides said that an emotional center was not open, that is, was not functioning properly. Once I felt thirty or forty of these ‘hot spots’—like hot walnuts—all over my body.” So it was, in private sessions, that Russell and Tuktu proceeded to “help” Sanford by prying open these emotional centers, alternately counseling him and feeding him with energies channeled through Aviva’s entranced body.

“Tuktu got quite vicious at times. He would tell me that I was useless, that I couldn’t make decisions, that I didn’t stick up for myself and so forth. These derogatory remarks were made so that I would express anger, so that my “anger center” would be opened up. I was battered so hard that I didn’t know what was going on, but it was said to be all for my own good—they were supposedly breaking down my resistance to emotions held in the body. Much of the time I felt intensely hot all over the abdomen and groin area and, whenever a center opened, I felt a great rush of hot wind within, a blast of warm energy. When this happened, I would feel very calm, confident and in control. My insight was enhanced. I’d fly high—but then I’d come crashing down again.

“The more my centers were supposedly opening, the worse I felt, in spite of the periodic highs. I was feeling things I didn’t realize could be experienced with such intensity. The emotional swings were phenomenal. At times, I would be totally broken down. I underwent raging storms of emotion—nostalgia, crying fits, great highs, depressive lows. One session lasted fourteen hours. I took Aviva in and out of trance so that I could stay as close as possible to the guides throughout that time.”

“I see now that they were brain washing me. It was magnificently done. They would scramble my thinking and feeling processes so that I wasn’t able to function properly. And then they would be the ones to make me feel better. Practically every day I would get what you might call a maintenance shot which would make me feel better for a while. They turned me into a psychic drug addict. The guides were out to create enormous dependency—and they succeeded.”

Early in March, 1987 Sandford’s enfeebled resistance could hold out no longer and he capitulated to the voices’ demands. He packed his bags and left home. “It was the worst point of my life,” he said. “I was feeling God-awful about everything. My whole life was a mess.”

The testimony of Sandford, and the transcripts of his private sessions, may be enough to take the many possible motivations for the guides and focus in on the mind parasite hypothesis as the most likely. Sandford provides clear evidence of a highly sophisticated energy parasitism occurring. Classically, the entities seek to promote lower energies such as anger which give them the grosser type of energy they prefer. Like a crack addict, or a sex addict, Sanford feels a pleasurable rush when the energy is discharged:

These derogatory remarks were made so that I would express anger, so that my “anger center” would be opened up… Much of the time I felt intensely hot all over the abdomen and groin area and, whenever a center opened, I felt a great rush of hot wind within, a blast of warm energy.

About two weeks ago, on my last night of reading the book, I was dreaming about a big dog that was starting to maul me. Some sort of lucidity clicked on in the dream as I realized that since in real life I was severely mauled by a dog when I was ten years old (and this was caused by a parapsychological attack—-a very long story I won’t get into here but I unravel part of here: A Mutant Convergence—How Terence McKenna, John Major Jenkins and Jonathan Zap Met During a Weekend of High Strangeness in 1996), it seemed like something was using that association to arouse fear in me and I forced myself awake. This felt like an immunological alert happening via some self-preservation function that wanted me awake. Suddenly wide awake, I felt energy pouring out of my body from a circular area exactly at the solar plexus which seemed molten and electrical. The area had an approximate diameter of about 3.5”/ 8cm. In my mind’s eye I pictured it as looking like the lit end of a cigarette. The feeling of acute energy drain was very similar, if not as extreme, as the encounter with a human vampire which I described in Mind Parasites, Energy Parasites and Vampires and during which I was similarly awakened with an urgent immunological alert sensation. This is why I said at the beginning of this document that there is both danger in being oblivious to such entities, but also in casting awareness in their direction. Of course anyone can speculate that my dream was seeded by what I was reading before I slept, etc. and there is no way for me to verify the source of the perceived attack.

Also extremely interesting in Sanford’s testimony is that the guides used the classic demonic strategies of accusing others of exactly what they are doing (Betty is accused of energy draining manipulation), reversing the truth 180 degrees (without us your business and life would have failed) and employing the truth in a way that twists it 180 degrees (accusing Sanford of not sticking up for himself). Similar strategies are classically employed by abusive lovers who typically drain someone’s finances and energy while portraying themselves as their meal ticket and healer/savior. Skillfully, they create a dependence on their parasitism. A key part of their strategy is to keep the victim in a state of extreme emotional instability. Last year a mind parasite experiencer contacted me by email and suggested an interesting name for the parasites, the “emotioneers.” He said he derived the name from Disney, from the Mouseketeers, because he wanted to indicate their skill in manufacturing a fantasy world that sucks you in to manipulate your emotions.

Shortly after Sanford leaves his wife, he has an argument with Aviva who storms out of his office (she had been working for him) vowing never to return. Aviva keeps her vow and thereby severs Sanford’s contact with the guides who spoke through her.

In the absence of any contact with the guides, Sandford made a startling discovery. He began to feel better, a lot better. Days passed and the fierce emotional fluctuations and bouts of muddled thinking steadily ebbed away….He came to believe that his prolonged proximity to their communicating “vehicle” and his willingness to channel healing energies had left him vulnerable to disincarnate designs about which he could only wonder. A few weeks later Sanford got a call from Roger, who had been reinstated as Aviva’s hypnotist. Russell, speaking through Aviva had insisted that Roger dial Sandford and hold the phone to Aviva’s lips,

Russell barked into “the invasive instrument” that his charge’s leukemia was running rampant and that the rift between Sandford and Aviva must be healed. Sandford was unbending in his determination to have nothing further to do with the guides and, once this was communicated, Russell resorted to intimidation of the most blatant and desperate kind.

“Russell told me,” said Sandford, “that he had just been handed the next installment of my life and that if I didn’t tell Aviva how important she was in my life….she would die there without my healing. He also said that, in Aviva’s absence, I wouldn’t be able to keep my energies balanced through contact with the guides and that my business would collapse. Finally, he told me that I would commit suicide in a fit of depression.”

Russell’s threats were transparently bullying and inaccurate as Aviva went into remission and Sandford’s business recovered and his life improved generally. Sandford even credits the trial of involvement with the guides as crucial to the rescue of his marriage,

“It was as if we shoved our hands into fire,” said Sandford. “Without knowing it, we found ourselves participating in an exercise of the most frightful self-confrontation. In some perverse way, the guides were our teachers. Without their intervention, Betty and I would probably still be locked in the same desperate nothingness that our marriage used to be.”

Sandford also realizes deception about the need for the supposed healing sessions,

“In retrospect, it doesn’t make any sense that I was needed to channel healing energies in the first place. The guides said that healing was effected via the fourth level of Aviva’s mind and, when I asked why they could not channel energies directly, Russell never gave me a straight answer. I think the guides always tried to give us the impression that they knew more than they did. They would tell us one thing that was accurate and then we would assume that everything they said was right.”

Sandford concludes,

“Who, or what, are these beings?” Sandford asked rhetorically. “It’s very difficult to say. I do know they were right inside Aviva from the way her facial expression would change. They would even laugh through her. I tend to feel that they are lower astral entities who play on human frailty and feed on our energy and our emotions. They often dazzled with their contempt for us. I still believe they helped to keep Aviva alive. They needed her alive. Our communication allowed some light to shine into the darkness of where they are and wherever that is must be God-awful in the extreme.”

Joe next goes to talk to Dr. Pinkerton, the guide channeled by Claire, who had warned him about the guides being channeled by Aviva. Dr. Pinkerton responds,

“You want me to be honest with you, Son?”


“I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but do you know
the difference between earthbound spirits and real guides?”

Later Joe inquires,

“So these earthbound spirits,” I persisted, “are the dead who have led rather unsavory lives and are hanging around and…”

“YES!” declared Dr. Pinkerton loudly. “These lost souls…” (he uttered the phrase with an attenuated cry of pain) “…these low entities, they come in with great knowledge, they come in with love. They want you to believe in them. They are quite clever. They say that they do not control your will. Oh, no, no, no. They have a very lovely, sweet way to control you completely, do you understand me?”

“But what is to tell that you…”

“That I am not of the same? I shall tell you why, Son. For many years I have been bouncing in and out of my instrument controlling organs, blood pressure, heartbeat and so on and so forth. Nothing bad has ever happened to her: she has never been possessed. I do not allow any lower entities around my instrument. But Aviva, she must stop at once…Someone that comes through her shall remain there and we shall have to do an exorcism on this young lady.”

Dr. Pinkerton adds,

“I am not lying to you Joseph. I have no reason to lie to you, do you understand me? I’ve never lied to you.”

Later Dr Pinkerton remarks,

“The so-called master—Russell—-is a serpent. He sweet-talks everyone, Dear. But the good always wins.”

“So what are they gaining by this deception?” I asked.

“Controlling, My Dear,” replied Dr. P. “Controlling, controlling. On the Earth plane, a lot of human beings like to control others. What makes you think it is different on the other side, Son?”

“But the buzzing in my ears,” I asked him. “What is that?”

“That’s her.”

“That’s my real guide?”

“Mm-mmm. She’s been protecting you all the time… She does love you very much, Dear.”

Repeatedly, Dr. Pinkerton warns Joe about Aviva’s guides:

“They are brilliant, Joseph, they are brilliant. You have no idea…These souls cannot cross over into the light. But they do have a lot of knowledge.”

“How are they able to read one’s thoughts?”

“They’re around you, I’ve told you before, they’re around you always. There’s a constant fight here. We don’t want to get too close to them, you know. We’ll get caught.”


“They’re quite powerful, these souls. We are protecting my instrument. We are protecting you. We are protecting a lot of souls. We’re trying to make sure they stay away…You see, what these souls need…they need to be rescued, you know.”

Joe investigates Dr. Pinkerton’s past life background and inevitably discovers that it is yet another case of deception. Joe confronts Dr. Pinkerton with the disconfirmation:

Harboring incipient anger and distrust, I confronted Dr. Pinkerton in the gloom of his consulting room. To start with, he behaved as though he hadn’t heard my declaration that the records bore no listing for a Dr. George Albert Pinkerton.

“What do you want to know about George?” he demanded unsteadily.
“Where can I find him? Why isn’t he in the medical directory?”

“Just a moment. Yes, Nathaniel, yes, that is our friend Joseph. It’s good to see his light, isn’t it? Also, your guide is here, Joseph.”

The carrot was no longer enticing the donkey. Dr. Pinkerton was employing his trusty tactics of distraction but I was not about to be swayed by yet another mention of my guide. I was thoroughly fed up with my compliance, with my tolerance, with my willingness to grant the benefit of the doubt to the utterances of one unfathomable voice after another. For years, I had encountered nothing but deceit and manipulation wrapped in the spirits’ flattery, high-mindedness and exhortations of love and affection.

Joe is aware of another case of a channeled guide claiming to be a Doctor, Dr. George Jamieson, supposed to have been a “bone setter” from Boston. His case is investigated and also disconfirmed, and Joe notes,

I was intrigued that both Pinkerton and Jamieson, whoever they were, had chosen to be known as “doctors.” It seemed to be a favorite ploy among discarnate communicators. Doctors abound among the legions of entities channeled from coast to coast and they recur constantly in the history of Spiritualism. One can only assume that the prefix is adopted because of its power to generate instant deference and respect.

In his book, The Wanderings of a Spiritualist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tells of attending a séance in Australia held by medium Charles Bailey whose “spirit controls” were both self-styled doctors. Sir Arthur wrote glowingly of the communicator’s dignity and wisdom. Likewise, the great American psychologist William James was mightily impressed with a French “doctor” named Phinuit who spoke gruffly through the voice box of renowned medium Leonora Piper.

Joe concludes,

“Unfortunately, mediumship is inclined to attract dark and tricky intelligences rather than act as a focal point for the genuine and the well-intentioned. It was always thus. As long ago as 1869, Andrew Jackson Davis wrote in Spirit Mysteries : “It is no difficult thing for certain spirits to impersonate others, to talk and dress up their thoughts like others, which they will do if such resemblance adds anything important to their communications.”

Joe, who was “ Ruminating on Dr. Pinkerton’s fall from grace…” opens a Chinese fortune cookie after a meal in Toronto’s Chinatown and reads,

“Never be divided from the truth by what you would like to believe.”

Joe contemplates which possibilities about the spirit guides are still viable after all these findings,

Multiple personalities can also be dismissed from contention because multiple personalities always claim the same life span as the “host” individual. Past-life personalities, too, can be disregarded because, if genuine, relatively recent life histories would lend themselves to verification in historical records. And this was not the case.

Unconscious fraud is not so easily repudiated, however. The mind, as Aldous Huxley observed, is like the Earth of 150 years ago with its darkest Africas and Amazonian basins concealing unknown capabilities and potentials. Is the mind, then, somehow able to construct a fictional family of personalities, each with its own reincarnation life history? Possibly. Dr. Adam Crabtree, author of Mutliple Man and one of the world’s foremost authorities on multiple personality and possession, pointed out that thoughts in the unconscious tend to group together. These groups easily become personified…

“I don’t believe,” Crabtree told me, “that the process of channeling is purely self-delusion or purely the individual’s unconscious or purely what the entities, so-called, would have us believe. I tend to go along with the notion that discarnate entities are, in many cases, responsible but that they are not who they say they are, although they are able to gain information in a paranormal fashion.” Carl Jung also agonized over the meaning of mediumship and, while stressing the importance of being skeptical in each individual case, came to the conclusion that “the spirit hypothesis yields better results in practice than any other.”

Joe speculates that the guide’s deceptiveness about giving their real names is caused by their having a deep dread of recognizing their own deaths and lack of corporeal existence. He notes that Seth, the famous entity that spoke through Jane Roberts, would occasionally ask for a glass of wine or beer and admitted to enjoying the encounter with the physical realm through Jane Robert’s sensorium. Dr. Pinkerton and Russell attempt to manipulate vicarious sexual experiences. Joe also notes that Russell and Filipa,

…refused to discuss their deaths and declaimed, “We’re not spirits!” as if unhappy with the postmortem condition. Dr. Pinkerton, claiming to know so much about earthbound spirits, uttered the phrase “lost soul” with a prolonged cry of anguish. I am intrigued by these clues.

Joe consults with a Dr. Joel Whitton who studied several mediums as a researcher with the Toronto Society for Psychical Research. He also concluded that the guides were trickster entities “who would pose as whatever the inquirer, either consciously or unconsciously, wanted them to be.” He also noted the extraordinary possessiveness they showed for the body of the medium. Especially revealing, Dr. Whitton points out,

Was Russell’s accusation that I was negating the entities’ earthly lives and Karma.

“Russell is afraid of not existing,” said Dr. Whitton. “You’ve stepped on his fear. His existence must be tenuous or he wouldn’t comment on it. A true guide who had a conscious existence in the between-life state would not be threatened by your revelations. We always defend ourselves against that which we fear. In my opinion, he’s attached himself to the medium because it’s his way of continuing his existence vicariously, of trying to assure himself that he’s alive. In his need to exist, he’s playing the role of guide. He’s a parasite. So are the others—very troubled, frightened, neurotic entities. Perhaps the medium has drawn these discarnates to herself because her fear is of dying of not existing. Like attracts like. You have stumbled onto a nest of neuroses in both this world and the next.

The red flag of neurosis is to do something that reveals your fear. Sigmund Freud called it “the compulsion to repeat.” Unconsciously but deliberately, Russell and the others fed you false data so that they would be confronted with their worst fear—the fear that they do not exist. That’s what they want to hear; that’s what they are the most afraid of. The mobilization of Russell’s defenses proves the hypothesis.”

Joe concludes,

Ancient spiritual teachings from a wide range of cultures tell of hosts of disembodied beings inhabiting a dimension which lies closest to Earth. This is the lower astral realm, a gloomy cesspool of the dead peopled by the spirits of those who have lived base, ignorant, or selfish lives. Afflicted with all manner of craving for terrestrial pleasure, their decadent existence thrives on attachment to needy and unsuspecting individuals on Earth. And so they masquerade as guides or teachers, developing emotional attachments to earthly humans and recycling the erudition available to all who inhabit the non-material universe. Their thinking processes are as rapid as they are Machiavellian; their vampiric need of human energies is boundless.

These earthbound spirits or, in Tibetan phraseology, pretas or “hungry ghosts,” are individuals whose minds, at the point of physical death, have been incapable of disentangling from desire. Thus enslaved, the personality becomes trapped on the lower planes even as it retains, for a while, its memory and individuality. Hence the term “lost soul,” a residual entity that is no more than an astral corpse- in-waiting…

Emanuel Swedenborg, who claimed to be able to pierce clairvoyantly the veil of the spiritual worlds, warned at great length about the brilliant and delusive nature of many communicating entities. Such evil, seducing spirits were said to be deceitful men and women who desired, in death, to hold the living in thrall to their duplicity. In Arcana Caelestia —–published a century before the founding of modern Spiritualism—he explained how they cuddle up to their victims:

When spirits begin to speak with man they conjoin themselves with his thoughts and affections…They put on all things of his memory, thus all things which the man has learned and imbibed from infancy the spirits suppose these things to be their own.”

Swedenborg maintained that the worse spirits of all were those “who have been in evils from love of self and at the same time inwardly and in themselves have acted from deceit.” In Heaven and Hell he tells how these entities like to flutter about mortals like phantoms, secretly infusing them with evil by penetrating the emotions:

“They perceive and smell out the affections as dogs do wild beasts in the forest. Where they perceive good affections, they instantly turn them into evil ones, leading and bending them in a wonderful manner by means of the other’s delights, and this so secretly and with such malignant skill that the other knows nothing of it…In the world these were the men who deceitfully captivated the minds of others, leading and persuading them by the delights of their affections or lusts…”

“I view the possessing entities as the true patients,” wrote Dr Edith Fiore in The Unquiet Dead. “They are suffering greatly without even realizing it. Virtual prisoners, they are trapped on the earth plane feeling exactly as they did moments before their deaths, which may have been decades before.”

Back in 1924, Dr. Carl Wickland told in Thirty Years Among the Dead how discarnate intelligences were attracted to the magnetic light emanating from mortals. Consciously or unconsciously, certain entities attached themselves wherever possible to these auras, finding an avenue of expression through influencing, obsessing or possessing their victims. Less resistance was offered when the vital forces were lowered, allowing obtruding spirits to influence the “host” with their own thoughts and emotions, weakening willpower and contributing to mental confusion and distress.

Dr. Wickland concludes,

These earthbound spritis are the supposed ‘devils’ of all ages; devils of human origin, by-products of human selfishness, false teachings and ignorance, thrust blindly into a spirit existence and held there in bondage of ignorance. The influence of these discarnate entities is the cause of many of the inexplicable and obscure events of earth life and of a large part of the world’s misery. Purity of life and motive, or high intellectuality, do not necessarily offer protection…Many earthbound spirits are conscious of influencing mortals but enjoy their power, seeming to be without scruples.

Joe joins many other esoteric researchers in warning about the use of the Ouija board. I (Jonathan) have witnessed dramatic telepathic and psychokinetic effects the last time I engaged with the Ouija (in the Eighties), but will no longer go near one. Joe points out,

The Ouija board attracts earthbound spirits more readily than any other inanimate device and those who choose to “play” this trans-dimensional distraction run the risk of being influenced by the most devious tricksters imaginable. In Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game, Soker Hunt presents a succession of cases in which people sacrificed their will and judgment to invisible guides—-with disastrous consequences. “Because of the intimate nature of the information revealed,” writes Hunt, “the Ouija board is incredibly seductive. The more suggestible a “player,” the more dangerous the Ouija game.” Seth, whose eloquence gave ambassadorial status in the New Age movement, was first contacted via a Ouija board.

Joe points out the many clear warnings by Jesus and Biblical prophets about communication with the dead,

Jesus Christ and the Biblical prophets had nothing good to say about communication with the dead, Jesus casting out “unclean spirits” and “devils” on many occasions. In the Bible, those who consult with spirits are placed in the same category as murders, liars and fornicators. Deuteronomy 18: 9-12 commands: There shall not be found among you anyone that…useth divination…or a consulter of familiar spirits or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination to the Lord.” The Book of Revelation warns that those who unrepentantly practice spiritism invite the “second death” of everelasting destruction: to converse with earthbound spirits is to share their fate. Spirits and demons—followers of Lucifer who joined in rebellion against God—are often cited interchangeably as cunning and deceitful beings intent on corrupting the unwary. In the words of 2 Corinthians 14: “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is therefore a simple thing for his agents to masquerade as agents of good.”

Joe investigates other cases of channeling that are much harder to disconfirm. In a couple of cases there are discarnate doctors whose past life info checks out and are even recognized by living relatives of the deceased. But even these cases have some unsettling details that leave Joe very suspicious that these may be even more clever discarnates. Joe writes,

I was haunted by one of Lt. Col. Arthur Powell’s observations in The Astral Body. He wrote that it was impossible to distinguish truth from falsehood in communications from the next world “since the resources of the astral plane can be used to delude persons on the physical plane to such an extent that no reliance can be placed even on what seems the most convincing proof.”

Commenting on a medium/healing case that occurred in Mexico City, Joe points out,

“In The Beautiful Side of Evil Michaelsen tells how she marveled at the spirit surgeon’s abilities, encouraged in her appreciation by Hermanito’s frequent invocation of the names of God and Jesus Christ. Once, however, she was paralyzed by a look of intense hatred which passed fleetingly across Pachita’s face while Hermanito was in control. Then Michaelsen observed that not all of Hermanito’s patients recovered even when he said they would and she realized that, although most people felt no pain while under Hermanito’s care, committed Christians tended to suffer hideously.”

As Joe points out, an over-arching problem with spirits who work through mediums is that they violate the self-reliance of, at the very least, the mediums they work through, taking control over their bodies and wills. They also encourage a spiritual problem I have referred to as “mislocation of the godhead.” (See Casting Precious into the Cracks of Doom—Androgyny, Alchemy Evolution and the One Ring…(also a podcast) )They encourage those who interact with them to become infatuated and dependent and to look to them for divine guidance. I am reminded of the David Bowie character in the movie Labyrinth who says approximately, “ All I ask is that you love me, fear me and obey me and I’ll be your slave forever.” More evolved entities do not resort to possession,

…spiritual teachers are in agreement that evolved nonphysical entities influence humanity telepathically, without speech. “Higher beings are silent—they simply radiate knowing and love,” said The Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche…

Although I am against one size fits all formulations, this behavioral distinction between benign and parasitic spirits has a lot of validity. The spiritual ally that I have long experienced in my own life communicates in a nondirective telepathic fashion, leaving me to form into words the emanation that is always loving, nonintrusive and that never over rides my will or takes over my body. The influence seems directed toward enhancement of my own self-realization and service, not toward vicarious thrills. But it should also be emphasized that malign entities are not limited to possession or mediums to exert influence. Subtle, stealthy telepathic influence by disincarnates to promote dark, compulsive thoughts, feelings, and cravings, cannot be ruled out as a possibility, and if it can be done at all, then that allows the possibility that it may be widespread and a major player in human psychology.

Earlier, I described what I experienced as an energetic attack on the last night I read the book. I awakened to find a massive energy drain occurring from my solar plexus which felt molten and electrical. This episode occurred on my last night of reading the book, but I saved a couple of chapters to read the following morning. In the epilogue of the book Joe describes a very unusual and alarming medical problem that occurred when he was preparing to write about the dark side of the guides. A strange swelling infection that became agonizingly painful developed around his navel of a sort that rarely occurs except in newborn babies. An ultrasound scan reveals, “a malevolent growth, like an inverted pyramid, lying beneath my belly button.”

As he is just coming out of surgery Joe gets an unexpected phone call from Claire. He hadn’t told a soul about his admission to the hospital. Claire tells Joe that Dr. Pinkerton told her. Joe wonders if Dr. Pinkerton might not have been the source of the strange infection. Joe relates,

“Even—and perhaps especially—after my recovery, my resolve to write this book was constantly threatened by a deep-seated fear. Would the spirits find a way to prevent the story of my foray into the murky world of channeling from reaching the general public?”

After the first edition of the book is published, Joe receives a letter from an ex-spiritualist woman in England. She corroborates Joe’s observation that the discarnates are particularly interested in manipulating sexual relationships. But she differs with the “lost souls” interpretation of the guides,

Personally, I feel this is too kind an interpretation. The typical image of a lost soul would be of a spirit trapped between worlds, perhaps unaware of its physical death, groping in an ignorance which prevents it (from) having the ability to progress. Compare this to the entities we have both experienced. They are masters of deception; they are articulate and eloquent with vast knowledge of philosophy at their disposal, whether fabricated or otherwise. They are able to cooperate and liaise sufficiently with others of their kind to devise strategies against us and maintain a continuity of information given to us. They have apparently limitless powers of precognition and access to any information they choose—past, present or future—enabling them, among other things, to impersonate whomsoever they wish with ease. This is not my idea of a poor lost soul stumbling in the darkness.

“The one thing I think we have both established beyond doubt is this: they are smart. They are very smart. Any lost soul this intelligent would surely have the ability and knowledge to progress to some higher state. If these souls are simply too evil to do so, and therefore have no knowledge of any supposedly higher realm, where do they obtain their vast understanding of philosophy? Not from living in a dark void trapped between worlds, that’s for sure.

The ex-spiritualist connects the phenomena she and Joe have experienced to UFO abductions which also frequently have a sexual component, and also to the origins of major religions,

…Nearly every religion in the world was initially based on psychic manifestations, visions on mountaintops, images of God appearing to prophets, voices in the mind—just as our modern day mediums hear voices, see visions. Indeed, I have heard of certainly more than one medium who claims her contact is Jesus or God himself.

These beings, in their different guises, have directly formed our very religions. And anyone who has studied the history of organized religion must be aware that (religion) has been responsible for more death and destruction than just about anything else. And yet we all stagger blindly on, oblivious to this manipulation for thousands of years…

Certainly the Gnostics would agree with this interpretation as they left many warnings that the evil entities they called “Archons” would manipulate us through religious ideologies. (see A Gnostic View of Mind Parasites)

Joe concludes the book,

….Like a secret agent, I had to expose myself to danger in order to retrieve important information. I am simply grateful to have survived my confrontation with the liars and deceivers of the spirit world. Only when the struggle was far advanced did I finally comprehend the meager state of my resources as well as the might and swiftness of the unseen enemy. Let this be a warning to us all.
Unfortunately for Joe Fisher the story did not end with the conclusion of the book.

The Anomalist reports,

Joe Fisher, 53, author of The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts, died on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, by jumping off a limestone cliff at Elora Gorge, near his hometown of Fergus, Ontario, Canada. A variety of personal problems, including a growing list of unpaid bills for the writer, appeared to have pushed him over the edge. In one of his last communications with his editor-in-chief, Patrick Huyghe at Paraview Books, Fisher noted that the spirits were still after him for having written his final book.

By an odd and unsettling coincidence, Paraview was my literary agent in the Nineties (and then later in 2011-2012). It was Len Belzer, my agent, and a close friend of Alex Grey who first told me about what led to Grey’s masterwork: Demons and Dieties Drinking from the Milky Pool. (see Alex Grey and the Mind Parasites)

From the publisher’s website (Paraview Press):

Troubled by personal problems – as well as by the spirits he claimed to have angered in writing The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts – Joe Fisher took his own life on May 9, 2001. That he would do so is all the more surprising considering what he had written earlier in The Case for Reincarnation : “As much as the suicidal personality feels able to escape the world by getting rid of the body, reincarnation’s revolving door ensures that all hope (of escape) is short lived. Those who learn that they have killed themselves in past lives are quickly brought to the realization that suicide, far from being an answer to life’s problems is (instead) the violent breaking of the lifeline. If the (suicide) could only realize the resulting intensification of difficulty which must enter the life to come, (suicide) would never be (attempted).”

Apparently, Joe also lost his closest friend on this same cliff, and although there is no way of knowing how much the discarnates may have played a role in this presumed suicide there are some ominous foreshadows in the book. Russell warned Sandford that if he left the group he would “…commit suicide in a fit of depression .” Also rather ominous is Russell’s question when Joe confronts him about deceptions,

“But how could you be downfalled if you are free to choose, free to challenge?”

Given that there are examples of the discarnates taking over motor control from some of their charges in the book, one can only wonder what part they may have played in Joe Fisher’s all too literal down fall.

I’ve saved chapter seven, in which Joe discusses the history of human contact with discarnates, for the end. The conclusion of Joe’s investigation, and his life, are so damning of discarnate contact that it seemed appropriate to conclude with a more general discussion as well as some neutral or positive examples of entity contact.

Many spiritual traditions have been founded on entity contact, and the evidence is mixed about the benign/malign nature of the entities contacted. What I find especially troubling are the cross-cultural examples of entities influencing various sorts of blood sacrifices. Joe reports,

The nomadic hunters and gatherers of the now-extinct Charrua tribe of Uruguay conducted a painful version of the vision quest. After making their way to the top of an isolated hill, they would slash and gouge their flesh with their weapons until, in delirium, each was granted a hallucination of a living being. This being was at once adopted by the native and invoked, in times of peril, as his guardian. The Plains Crow tribesman, in seeking the all-important vision, climbed a remote mountain, stripped, fasted, went without water and, finally, cut off one joint of his left forefinger. The dismembered appendage was then held up to the sun as the native pleaded with his guardian for good fortune.

Socrates and his daemon appear to be a more benign case of entity contact,

Socrates, the great Athenian philosopher, spoke in the fifth century B.C.E. of a being whose voice, from time to time, dissuaded him from some undertaking but never directed him as to what he should do. Socrates told his friends that when a man dies his guardian spirit, which has watched over the course of his life, escorts him to the place of judgment from when he will be guided to the initial stage of the postmortem existence. The wise and disciplined soul, he said, will follow the guide. But the soul that is deeply attached to the body and its pleasures will hover around the visible world for a long time.

Although the Bible has many warnings about communicating with the dead, it also has many positive references to entities,

The Bible, of course, mentions “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1.14) without spelling out their perpetually watchful responsibilities. But the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which dates back to 1300 B.C.E., succinctly expresses the unremitting vigilance that attends all who walk the earth…

The angel—meaning “one who is sent; a messenger” —personifies spiritual guardianship in Christianity, the guardian angel being a particularly potent symbol to Roman Catholics. As recently as 6 August 1986, in a general audience at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II spoke at length about the reality of guardian angels. …

Catholics insist that man’s goodness, or lack of it, has no bearing on the quality or degree of angelic attention. “every single human being on earth, whether Christian or non-Christian, whether in grace or in sin, remains during its entire life under the care of a Guardian Angel,” states Jesuit Theologian Joseph Husslein in Our Guardian Angels. The Bible mentions angels on nearly three hundred occasions, citing their power and solicitiousness…

Numerous well known figures have had contact with entities,

Many famous people have claimed to share communication with entities in the next dimension. Joan of Arc conversed with a disembodied voice which inspired her to great deeds in France. Robert Louis Stevenson credited the whole of his published fiction to “the single-handed product of some unseen collaborator.” Daily experience convinced the poet W.B. Yeats that “there are spiritual intelligences which can warn us and advise us.” Napoleon Bonaparte believed that he had a guiding spirit which came to him either as a shining sphere or a dwarf clothed in red who came to warn him. And Henry Miller commented that he was “in the hands of unseen powers” while writing his powerful novel Tropic of Cancer. Someone, he said, “is dictating to me constantly—and with no regard for my health.”

Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychoanalyst, regularly encountered a guardian spirit named Philemon, a “force that was not myself” who “seemed quite real, as if he were a living personality.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was told independently by seven mediumistic individuals that he was accompanied by an elderly, bearded man with tufted eyebrows—the marked characteristics of deceased naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who was actually named by several of those who were able to perceive him…

A fairly well-known person whom I won’t name here, a man I consider to be an absolute genius with whom I worked in the Eighties, heard voices who gave him information that seemed to be inspired and of great value. And for most of my life I have been aware of a somewhat androgynous being living alongside me whom I can visualize, but who almost never intrudes into my mind with voice, and instead influences by presence. He seems to be there whenever I cast my attention in his direction, and there is always the sense that he flows through time in a much different way than I do. There is always a great depth of feeling, humility, and compassion for suffering, and if more specific communication is required by me, he allows me to use my mind and word-forming ability to translate his presence and thought forms into words and sentences. He never takes over any part of my body, never claims to be a doctor or to have a specific past-life identity, never raises even the smallest red flag in my ever fault-finding mind or intuition. I have noticed, however, that if I travel, he will tend to be unusually present, as if curiously witnessing a new part of the world alongside of me (but without taking over my senses).

Julian Jaynes, in his book, The Origins of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind , makes a case that up until the time of Homer, many peoples of the ancient world regularly heard voices they attributed to gods in their heads. There were frequent laments in the time that followed about the gods having fallen silent.

So we don’t want to throw out any divine babies in the scummy bath water of parasitic disincarnates. We do want to, based on the findings of this book, be especially wary of entities that take someone over or are otherwise intrusive. It does seem like a valid principle that a benevolent entity would not intrude to a degree that compromises our free will and need for independent development. When I was an English teacher I remember exploring an education philosophy that said the teacher should be “a guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.” That’s always stayed with me, especially since, as a narcissistic personality type, I would enjoy being the “sage on the stage.” But since I am a fellow mortal, this tendency may be more acceptable, whereas a discarnate guide that likes to be the sage on the stage, like Ramntha, the New Age celebrity discarnate that speaks through J.Z. Knight, is far more suspect.

But it is not just New Age entities that are suspect. Often people harshly judge things that are fantastical and part of a more recently minted sect—like John Smith’s encounters in the Book of Mormon, or the extraterrestrial mythology of Scientology—-and they forget that all the great religions have equally fantastical stories but which, thanks to the patina of antiquity and endless repetition down the millennia, have gained gravitas and respectability. The most cursory examination of the last six thousand years of history, however, reveals that more blood has been spilled, more torture and oppression has occurred, in the name of these very same religions than of anything else. The Gnostics, writing in the Nag Hammadi library discovered in upper Egypt only at the end of World War II, warned us of a parasitic species they called the Archons who were manipulating us through religious ideologies.

I think that we are badly overdue for an examination and reappraisal of religious doctrines that derive from entity contact, and especially need to consider whether entities may be manipulating fundamentalists (of any religion) toward agendas and actions of hate and violence.

Lastly, we need to consider the subtle ways that discarnates may influence our thoughts, emotions, sexuality and behavior. Joe Fisher’s apparent suicide adds an ominous implication that these entities are not to be underestimated, that awareness of them does not end their power. There are many more things in heaven and in earth (among other dimensions) than are dreamt of in rationalist philosophy. The extreme importance of the findings of The Siren Call of the Hungry Ghosts, and of the unanswered questions we are left with, reconfirm my impression that this is one of the most important books I have ever encountered.

“Reality is not only stranger than you think, it is stranger than you can think.” —-J. B. S. Haldane

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  1. wow. I’m going to go read this book.
    My question is: How does one go about fighting off these hungry ghosts/mind parasites and/or possible hauntings by a recently deceased relative?

    • My own experience was that it was the doubt that the phenomenon was real and actually occuring, that gave the entity the ability or license to (hide) and maintain the parasitic attachment. I mistook its intentions and thoughts as my own. My own materialist inclinations were my blind spot. Not believing in metaphysical beings does not prevent them from hacking our psyche. So it was a very critical hurdle to get over, to accept the phenomenon as reality and moreso, a reality that interacted with me. I would have never been able to remove its psychic tentacles without also doing tremendous self-work delving into my own trauma and psychological fragmentation which most mediums likely have buried in ther subconscious mind. Bernhard Guenther is also a good source of knowledge on this topic.

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