Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures

II. pp. 183-296 Paranormal & Social Change

II. Social Change

Social Change

the editrices


II. Social Change

12. Aitheric Warriors

Sarah Jane Sloane


II. Social Change

13. Mediumship

Esther Peeren


II. Social Change

14. Politics of the Paranormal

Heather Nunn & Anita Biressi


II. Social Change

15. Realism and the Paranormal

Olu Jenzen


II. Social Change

16. Haunted by History

Josephine Machon


II. Social Change

17. The Anomalous State

Wendy E. Cousins


II. Social Change

18. Spiritualist Archive

Mari`a del Pilar Blanco


II. Social Change

19. Visions of the Paranormal

Karin Beeler




II. Social Change

Social Change

the editors


p. 184 self-exploratory spiritualities of life

"Heelas links a '... spirit of self-exploration' (2008:49) with alternative thinking and living, open and intense experiences, a Gnostic soaring of the spirit, and ... radical ideas. ... He cites ... that 'Half the population of the UK has visited an alternative pracitioner', and that 37 per cent of British people

see God inside each person (2008:75).

{This is in flagrant contradiction against Episcopal Church doctrine, but in agreement with the Episcopal Church's principal adversaries (such as, the Religious Society of Friends, the Theosophical Society, etc. etc.).}

These spiritualities of life have been caricatured as ... forms of collectivity through the idea of a common human spirit. We wonder how much longer labelling the paranormal as counter-cultural might be sustainable."

"we are witnessing a spiritual revolution, a spontaneous movement in society that reflects 'a new interest in the reality of spirit and its healing effects', the source for which is 'at the very core of our experience' ([Tacey] 2004:1)."

Heelas 2008 = Paul Heelas : Spiritualities of Life. Oxford : Blackwell.

Tacey 2004 = David Tacey : The Spirituality Revolution. NY : Brunner Routledge.


II. Social Change

12. Aitheric Warriors

Sarah Jane Sloane


p. 189 spiritual energy

"Whether spiritualists exploring the ether, traditional Chinese practitioners of QiGong studying the movements of chi, Vendatic {sic : the authoress may have had in mind the [Ba]Venda of Limpopo province; read "Vedantic"} philosophers understanding the movement of prana {pran.a}, Henri Bergson's conceptualizing e'lan vital (1907), or Wilhelm Reich's developing a theory of orgone energy, ... Such theorists and practitioners typically believe that one's health and well-being depend on the circulation of these mysterious, living energies through the body".

p. 189 Aitheric Warriors

"Today a strong online presence of contemporary believers in Reich's theories of orgone, the Etheric Warriors, have reworked his ideas into a system of protection from deadly orgone energies (DOR), which they believe infuse cell phone towers, government buildings, post offices, banks, and many other institutions in current times".

p. 190 orgone energy

"Orgone energy ... was discovered and named by Wilhelm Reich in 1939 (Reich and Higgins 1994). Reich (1897-1957) characterized orgone ... as a pervasive, living energy that is bioelectric pulsation -- blue and orgasmically potent (Mann and Hoffman 1980:151-80)."

Reich & Higgins 1994 = Wilhelm Reich (ed. by M. Higgins) : Beyond Psychology : Letters and Journals, 1934-1939. NY : Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

Mann & Hoffman 1980 = W. E. Mann & Edward Hoffman : The Man Who Dreamed of Tomorrow. Los Angeles : J. P. Tarcher.

p. 192 (quoted from Reich & Higgins 1999, p. 45) orgone energy in inanimate matter

"The universe consists of orgone energy.

{Physical matter is able to store energy-potentials, and to process, release, and absorb energies; but to say that physical matter "consists of" energy is inaccurate -- grossly inaccurate.}

Fixed stars and planets consist of compressed orgone energy

{To speak of "compressed" energy is not standard terminology (such as, in describing light or sound); instead, energies can be described as intensified or increased, or as raised in vibrational frequency.}

in a highly diluted state.

{simultaneously "compressed" and "diluted"? "Diluted" is a term not standardly applied to energy; instead, energy can be described as diminished, or as lowered in vibrational frequency.}

Living organisms are orgone energy concentrated in ... proteins ... surrounded by membranes."

{It would be possible to say that living organ-tissue will contain energy-potenials, but not that organisms "are" energy. And incidentally, one's body will have its energy-potential stored in carbohydrates rather than in proteins, which incidentally are not surrounded by "membranes" (by which he may mean "cell-walls", which however surround whole cells, not individual proteins).}

Reich & Higgins 1999 = Wilhelm Reich (ed. by Mary Boyd Higgins) : American Odyssey : Letters and Journals, 1940-1947. NY : Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

{Wilhelm Reich apparently never bothered to learn the basic vocabulary of physics, nor of physiology, and wrote hastily without heed for accuracy nor for meaningfulness, like some uneducated semi-literate. Psychologists are generally that inept and careless in all their their theorizing, and Reich's exemplar Freud was particularly unreliable in his.}

p. 195 not a religion?!

"Reich ... did not ... think of his work with orgone energy as a kind of 'religion'."

{If he had defined his hypotheses a religion (registring it as such with the appropriate governmental departments), and his orgone devices as religious paraphernalia, neither his doings nor his life would have been at all interfered with by the U.S. government (F.D.A. or other agency). But he was too stubborn (headstrong), or else too ignorant, ever to take advantage of such generously proffered opportunity.}

p. 196 Reich's unjustifiable hostility to the flying saucers

"'In the fall of 1953 Reich several books about flying saucers ..., and from then on he tried to put all the spaceship reports and phenomena on an orgonomic basis (Reich, I. [O.] 1969:119). ...

Reich developed the idea that the United States and other countries were being attacked from outer space; that, in his words, there was a 'grave planetary DOR (Deadly Orgone Energy) emergency' (Reich, I. [O.] 1969:142) and 'only wit the help of orgonomy could mankind be saved from this menace' (Reich, I. [O.] 1969:129)."

{The flying saucers have arrived in order (as they have told many contactees, from Adamski onward) to rescue humanity from capitalism by establishing a communist paradise on Earth. Reich's shameful defense of capitalist war-mongering by his fanatic opposition to the saving grace offered by the flying saucers was absolutely repraehensible, and his downfall was therefore deserved on account of his insulting behaviour toward the divine rescue mission being supernaturally praepared for us mortal earthlings by the immortal denizens of the flying saucers speeding to our rescue.}

I. O. Reich 1969 = Ilse Ollendorff [Wilhelm Reich's mother] : Wilhelm Reich : a Personal Biography. NY : Paul Elek Scientific Bks Ltd.

p. 197 (quoted from Turner 2012) how Wilhelm Reich began to regain his sanity

In the posthumously published Contact with Space, Reich wrote: "On March 25, 1956 ..., a thought ... entered my mind ... : Am I a spaceman? Do I belong to a new race ... from outer space ...? ... Has the ... interplanetary society already been created on our planet ...? Or, is this ... to come in the future?"

{Unfortunately, however, because he never get around to reading the pro-communist writings of actual flying-saucer contactees, nor even of other communistic-minded mystics (such as, of various visionary-seer hermits), he consequently lacked adequate encouragement to develop these intimations; and though he himself may have upheld this conversion through the short remainder of his life, many of his praesent-day apostles (such as, the so-called Aitheric Warriors) neglect to heed this changed attitude.}

Turner 2012 = or

Wilhelm Reich : Contact with Space . New York : Core Pilot Press, 1957.

{Thus, Wilhelm Reich did himself profit by being imprisoned, when he while in prison had the leisure to contemplate whether he may have been wrong all his life thitherto : so that consequently he realized that he had been in gross doctrinal error thitherto, and repented.}

p. 198 activities of the Aitheric Warriors

"the online North American fringe group, the 'Etheric Warriors', begun by Carol and Don Croft ... sell their orgonite to a steady group of online followers ..., to counteract DOR."

{They continue to vilify the flying saucers : e.g., "Bad energy came from flying saucers ... . ... Only we called the flying saucers EAs {evil agents?}." ( "MFWRvsUFOs").}

"Don Croft ... writes :

We did the entire city of Atlanta, which has two million people ... . ... Atlanta is the main ... center for the Southeastern US{A} ... . (Etheric Warriors Forum 2012)"

{It is true that the government of the state of Georgia hath historically been among the worst : the most oppressive, most hostile to civil rights, the most treacherous of state governments in the United States of America.}

"flying saucers" at "Etheric Warriors" website

"MFWRvsUFOs" = "My Father, Wilhelm Reich, vs The UFOs" (by Don Croft, at Moscow, ID, June 10 2006) :

Also (by Don Croft, at Moscow, ID, Jan 10 2009) : "Credible witnesses have seen and photographed conventional aircraft mutating into flying saucers, too. at {I myself have often (decades ago, in GA) seen a conventional aircraft morph. Perhaps that part of my visual field shifted from one sub-plane of the material plane to another sub-plane, at the will of guiding praeternatural entities.}

p. 200 "a better world"

by Peter Reich (Wilhelm Reich's son) : "people in [Wilhelm] Reich and my mother's generation really believed in a better world ... a Socialist world."

{The only way that any better world can come about would be with the assistance of transcendental divinities, such as flying saucers. But the self-styled "Etheric Warriors", by continuing to repeat the scurrilous remarks (about flying saucers) made by Wilhelm Reich before his apparent conversion-experience on March 25, 1956, are interfering with such prospects.}

{Instead of listening to the so-called "Etheric Warriors" repeat their insults, it would be more inspiring to heed the Ashtar Command, which hath stated that flying saucers have told them that the United States is already in the process of being improved by Ron Paul and by Dennis Kucinich, and more recently by B. H. Obama.}


II. Social Change

13. Other Senses : Mediumship

Esther Peeren


pp. 205-7 what spirit-media can sense

p. 205

"In the heydays of Spiritualism, when mediums were sought out by people across the social spectrum, 'the supernatural was both fearful and terrible and ardently desired; it was a spooky sense that there was more to the world than the everyday, and an intimation that reality might be transfigured by something above and beyond' (Bown, Burdett and Thurschwell 2004:1).

p. 206

"possessing superior powers of perception , mediums promise access to that which remains inaccessible to the ordinary eye, including but not limited to the realm of the dead. ... In creating what Derrida (1994 [1993]:6) terms ... 'spectral asymmetry' -- the impression of a look that is not open to being looked back at -- psychic performances generate

a fundamental ambivalence about ... where the power of perception truly lies."

{a quaestionality as to whether praeternatural immortals may be more perceptive [and therefore more knowing] than mere mortals}

"There is a degree of predictability to what she illuminates (comforting communications from the dead, peaceable impressions of the afterlife), yet she can also surprise without immediately becoming unintelligible, since the other world she accesses is expected to be different and wondrous. ...

p. 207

The medium may subvert societal norms by manifesting (ostensibly without meaning to) the prohibited and the disavowed, conjuring that which is not supposed {viz., allegedly not invited} to appear. Thus, in the nineteenth century, 'the se'ance became a place for trangressive {subversively insurrectionary} cross-class {poor-rich} cross-gendre {male-female} contact' (Thurschwell 2001:8) where 'in the name of spirit possessions, women openly and fragrantly {sic. read "flagrantly"} transgressed social norms" (Owen [1989]:11)."

Bown, Burdett, & Thurschwell 2004 = "Introduction" to :- Nicola Bown, Carolyn Burdett, & Pamela Thurschwell (edd.) : The Victorian Supernatural. Cambridge Univ Pr. pp. 1-19.

Thurschwell 2001 = Pamela Thurschwell : Literature, Technology and Magical Thinking, 1880-1920. Cambridge Univ Pr.

Owen 1989 = Alex Owen : The Darkened Room : Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England. Camden Town (London) : Virago.

pp. 207, 210 official disapproval (by the ruling-class) of spirit-mediumship

p. 210

"in twenty-first century Britain, ... claims to communicate with ghosts are no longer accommodated by conventional scientitfic or religious discourses.

{This is because capitalist-dominated society hath become more hypocritical, and capitalist-dominated government hath become less tolerant, now in the current century than either were more than a century ago.}

... Victorian mediums caused widespread public debate and were subjected to serious scientific experimentation (Oppenheim 1985)".

p. 207, fn. 2

"on Spiritualism as a surrogate faith that fell afoul of established religions, see Oppenheim (1985:63-197)".

Oppenheim 1985 = Janet Oppenheim : The Other World : Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge Univ Pr.


II. Social Change

14. Politics of the Paranormal

Heather Nunn & Anita Biressi


p. 215 contemporary cycling of ghostliness through popular culture

"As Michael Barkun (2003:33) has noted ... :

[quoted] The volume and influence of stigmatized knowledge have increased dramatically through the mediation of popular culture. Motifs, theories and truth claims that once existed in hermetically sealed subcultures have begun to be recycled, often with great rapidity, through popular culture."

Barkun 2003 = Michael Barkun : A Culture of Conspiracy : Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

p. 217 factual television programmes about ghosts

"[In television,] British programming schedules have included ... the documentary series Ghosthunters (1996-97) ... (see Burger 2010 ...).

There are also numerous American TV drama series that consistently raise issues of inexplicable phenomena such as premonitions, telepathy, miracles, faith healing, zombies and revenants".

Burger 2010 = A. Burger : "Ghost Hunters". In :- Mari`a del Pilar Blanco & Esther Peeren : Popular Ghosts : the Haunted Spaces Spaces of Everyday Culture. London : Continuum. pp. 162-74.

p. 218 popular critique of military-industrial-affiliated national government; popular suspicion of scientists who collaborate with the government's military

p. 218

"Stuart Allan (2002:41-3), for example, argues in the case of The X-Files that the show's debunking of the basic tenets of modern science is in tune with a broader cultural suspicion of {government-credentialed} scientists as the arbiter of {so-called} truth and as collaborators with {oppressive} government and {with tyrannical} military power."

p. 218, fn. 1

"[The television] series Eleventh Hour (2006-) ... is also notable for ... its conspiracy theory critique of government, corporate science and the military-industrial complex."

Allan 2002 = Stuart Allan : Media, Risk and Science. Buckingham : Open Univ Pr.

p. 222 ghosts as reminders of continuation into the praesent of oppression by capitalism

"Derrida [1994 [1993]] ... declares that to speak of ghosts is to acknowledge an ethical responsibility to the past, present and future generations. He argues ... that there is an ethical continuum that enjoins ... responsibility for those victims of violence, wars or indeed oppressive capitalist, imperialist relations that continue to unhinge the present."


II. Social Change

15. Realism and the Paranormal in Scandanavia

Olu Jenzen


p. 227 magical realism

"magical realism 'presents extraordinary occurrences as an ordinary part of everyday reality' (Bowers 2004:131), aiming to alert the reader to a plurality of ontological realities or perspectives by drawing on the paranormal."

Bowers 2004 = Maggie Ann Bowers : Magic(al) Realism. London : Routledge.

pp. 232-3 post-materialism producing occulture with increasing interest in the paranormal

p. 232

"Ulf Sjo,din's (2002) ... drawing on Inglehart's theory of post-materialism, links an openness to the paranormal to the

p. 233

... prosperous socioeconomical conditions ... with comparative economic security ... in keeping with ... Partridge's (2004b, 2005) delineation of the growth of occulture in the West, and Heelas and Woodhead's (2005 [2004]) resacralization thesis.

Hence, the presence of a buffering welfare state has contributed towards the social phenomenon of an increasing regional {i.e., Scandinavian} interest in the paranormal".

Sjo,din 2002 = Ulf Sjo,din : "The Swedes and the Paranormal". J OF CONTEMPORARY RELIGION 17.1:75-85.

Heelas & Woodhead 2005 = Paul Heelas & Linda Woodhead : The Spiritual Revolution. Oxford : Blackwell.


Olu Jenzen & Sally R. Munt (editrices) : The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures. Ashgate Publ Ltd, Farnham (Surrey), 2013.