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I thank you for stopping by. I hope you'll make yourself comfortable & stay a while. I have a great many things to share that I believe are interesting & I hope that you will find them interesting as well. Please friend me also on Facebook. I'm there under "Nefer Khepri" & I hope you will also visit my site, Magickal-Musings.com. I wish you all many blessings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Chicago's Haunt Detective

Chicago’s Haunt Detective
Raymond Johnson
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-3718-5
PB $16.99

If you like true ghost stories AND true crime, then this is the book for you as it nicely combines both in what is a very entertaining read.  The author, Raymond Johnson, is a former police officer.  The book opens with his accounts of his own paranormal experiences that occurred in his childhood home.  All of the recounted stories in this book are told with some humor usually inserted as parenthetical remarks that make the book sound like this is a friend telling you some cool ghost stories over a beer rather than reading them out of a book.  For example, in discussing his own scary experience the author notes that covering one’s head with a blanket “is, of course, the first line of defense” against an earth-bound spirit (p. 17).  That’s just one example.  There are plenty more, but always included with good taste.

The book opens with the classic story of “Resurrection Mary.”  A personal note about her, before I continue.  I’m originally from northern Illinois (Waukegan) and a number of times my friends and I hung out across the street or a bit down the street from Resurrection Cemetery hoping to catch a glimpse of this very famous phantom.  We were always disappointed, but I do have a friend who claims to have seen her while in the car with his brother.  Mary was standing alongside the road as they were approaching the cemetery evidently thumbing for a ride.  Although my friend was willing, his brother would not slow down to pick her up.

Resurrection Mary is a special ghost story because she has become beloved by the locals and the location and her true identity have been a closely guarded secret since the 1930s when she first passed away and then began putting in post-mortem appearances.  The author states that he received threatening emails because they thought he was out to debunk her existence.  He notes in reference to the scary emails, “[a]nd you thought ghosts were scary …”    As a former local of the area I found that to be quite interesting as I have myself seen the locals behave very protectively towards her.  They are not too willing to speak of her except to say she is there and yes, she is very real.  Raymond Johnson offers several hypotheses as to who the real Mary could have been along with supporting evidence that I found to be all quite interesting.  His conclusion is the same as the one I drew years ago.  It doesn’t matter who she once was in life, the fascinating thing is that she still appears long after her death.

The book is presented in a forensic style including eye witness accounts, the historical background of the event or ghosts involved, examinations of death and census records, and the historical background of the haunted location.

Other stories in the book include:  a ghost who solves her own murder (again, presented with eye witness testimony and evidence), and the use of a Ouija board that may have lead to the main user’s untimely demise.   The book concludes with a section about modern-day paranormal investigative techniques and a chapter on the use of psychics by the police.

The book is 160 pages long including an index, bibliography, and photographs.  The author’s sense of humor is evident throughout the book.  His expertise as a police officer who spent a career collecting and analyzing evidence is also very much apparent.  Chicago’s Haunt Detective is an enjoyable read throughout and I highly recommend it to those of you who like a good ghost story and also are interested in modern-day paranormal investigative technique.  

~ Nefer Khepri, Ph. D.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BOOK & DECK REVIEW: Illuminara: Intuitive Journal with Cards

Illuminara: Intuitive Journal with Cards
Elaine Clayton
ISBN# 978-0-7643-3550-5
$29.95, hardcover spiral bound

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own a deck you could use for self-exploration & divination that had all of your own interpretations so that you wouldn’t have to depend on learning the interpretations from some book?  If so, then the Illuminara: Intuitive Journal with Cards is made for you.

If you practice journaling or tarot journaling, Illuminara adds a new dimension to one’s journaling pursuits.  Usually, when I journal I’m focused on a personal experience, dream, or tarot reading I’ve had.  When I tarot journal I make note of the date, lunar phase, question, cards received, & my thoughts & interpretations of those cards.  Illuminara is different in that it contains a set of 40 5 X 7” cards of a random collection of images taken from Elaine Clayton’s art she has created over the years.  Unlike a tarot or oracle deck, she does not provide any meanings or interpretations of any of the images.  Instead, she leaves that up to the reader, namely – you.

Elaine Clayton’s method is based upon Carl Jung’s theory of the “personal unconscious,” which consists of the symbols to which each of us has assigned personal meaning specific to each of us as individuals.  For example, we’re all familiar with the universal symbol for “peace.”  However, growing up a friend of mine had spent his early years on a farm.  He would always laugh when he saw a peace sign because to him it did not represent peace.  For him it was a chicken’s foot inside a circle.  In his case he had assigned his own meaning to a symbol that has the same meaning for many of us, but not for him.  

This is exactly what readers are meant to do with this deck.  Examine the cards, answer journaling prompts provided by the author on blank journaling pages (also provided) and derive your own meanings for these images based upon associations they bring up to the surface from your own memories and emotions.  By so doing you’re creating a system of self-exploration and divination that is unique to you.

The same image viewed by different people conjures up a different memory or association for each observer.  These memories, in turn, illicit different emotional reactions from each viewer.  This is the reason everyone’s meaning for each of these images will be unique to that person. 
The process of journal keeping helps a person to explore their outer world that then leads to discovery and exploration of their inner world.  We then begin to feel “intuitively connected and informed.  We are participating consciously with stimuli, rather than simply being hammered by stimuli” (Clayton, p. 12).  Furthermore, maintaining a journal helps us to create and reaffirm “our own pictoral language, the unique, dynamic, and wondrous visual inner library we bring with us wherever we go” (Clayton, p. 13). 

The cards consist of random images from everyday life; such as, a dog,  a girl looking up at birds in a tree, a plate of lemons, a tree stump, a sea turtle, an angel, a lifeguard, and an old couple, just to name a few.  The art style is eclectic and ranges in complexity from simple line sketches rendered in pencil, such as a boy seated at a table (see image above), to more involved line drawings rendered in pen and ink to full color watercolor and acrylic paintings.  The concept behind the cards is to choose one or a few each day.  Upon finding their corresponding page in the book (each card is numbered for ease of reference), the reader then answers the journaling prompts for the card they have drawn. You can draw the card consciously or intuitively, the choice is yours.  The prompts are the same for each image.

I chose the dog simply because it’s card number 1 and then I looked through all the images and chose the sea turtle because I love them.  The image of the dog reminded me of the dog I had while growing up.  She and I were together for fifteen years.  I ended up crying because of the feelings I allowed to surface for the first time in over twenty years.  Feelings of love, happiness, and grief overwhelmed me.  In the end I was very grateful for the experience and I found it to be healing.

For the sea turtle my reaction was very different.  I have always loved sea turtles from afar, never experiencing one in person until recently (except in an aquarium exhibit, of course).  This image brought up feelings of joy for me as I responded to the journaling prompts by writing about my experience last June during a snorkeling excursion in Maui, Hawaii.  It was one of the most fantastic and glorious experiences of my life.  Based upon my journaling exercise with these two cards, if I were to use this deck in a reading and these cards appeared the dog for me would represent loyalty and friendship, but also loss and grief.  If the sea turtle appeared in a reading it would represent great joy and the realization of a life-long dream.  So you can see how once you’ve completed the journaling prompts for each card that these cards can be a successful tool of self-exploration and even divination.

The book itself is spiral bound within a hard cover and consists of a brief section that runs only twenty pages.  More is not necessary due to the author’s system being very straight-forward and uncomplicated.  The remaining 110 pages consist of a color reproduction of each card accompanied by a journaling space on the following page and thirty blank “Psychic Journal” pages conclude the book.  Packaging consists of a hardback book with internal spiral binding so the book will lie flat in order to facilitate the journaling process.  The cards are housed in a large pocket inside the back cover.  This is a unique approach that I feel many people would find fun, exciting, and helpful.  

~ Nefer Khepri, Ph. D., R. M-T.