20 March 2015

Seattle Event - Ostara Saturday 3/21

If you're in the area come and celebrate Ostara with me in Discovery Park! We'll be meeting in the north parking lot at 3:45pm tomorrow.

The ritual will be very informal and will largely improvised (so what happens will depend on who shows up). Bring a small offering of nuts, seeds, or flowers.

The park can be wet and muddy, so wear sturdy shoes that can stand a bit of muck. It's Seattle, so rain gear is always a good idea (and it's supposed to be damp tomorrow). We may take a small hike around the park depending on the weather, so bring a water bottle.


06 March 2015

Book Review: Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums by Jamie Davis

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I've got a thing for ghosts (it's the whole worshiping death and spending quality time in the underworld thing).  I consume pretty much any and all media I can get my hands on regarding ghosts - whether I expect it to be good or not. 

When I stumbled upon Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums: Inside Abandoned Institutions for the Crazy, Criminal & Quarantined by Jamie Davis I knew I had to read it.  You see, most ghosts are totally benign and absolutely nothing like the rampaging fright-makers you see on sensationalist paranormal television.  However, the ghosts of criminals, the insane, and the criminally insane are a different story.  I've dealt with an insane ghost and it was terrifying.  I came to this book in the hopes of finding new and interesting information on atypical hauntings, but was disappointed.

Reading the introduction to this book I was immediately put on guard by the author describing her view of ghost hunting as a thrill-seeking activity.  Don't get me wrong, I totally see the appeal of spooking yourself silly in "haunted" places, but lauding it doesn't exactly give me confidence in the veracity of ones stories.  Thankfully, the author is really good about identifying her experiences as only that and doesn't make mountains out of molehills.  No shifting tree branches that are obviously signs of demonic activity!!!! Just honest experiences of being creeped out in exceedingly creepy places.

This books is basically a paranormal tourism guide and it serves that function pretty well.  Each chapter is about a visit the author made to a different paranormal hotspot and contains some basic historical information, the author's experiences while there, and info on how you can visit (many location offer regular tours or Halloween attractions).  It's written in a very matter-of-fact, guidebook style (which is fine, but it's not exactly flowing prose).  I do like that author has a webpage with all of the video, audio, and photos taken at each location so you can look and see for yourself.

This book is fine when the author is talking about the history of the location, but I had some trouble enjoying her descriptions of her personal experiences.  The problem is that the author is clearly an amateur ghost hunter, so she doesn't exactly offer deep insights into the paranormal.  If I want to hear about someone being freaked out by shadows I'll watch it on tv where I can enjoy the jump cuts and the soundtrack can get me invested.  Reading about it just falls flat.  Nothing all that extraordinary happens.  There's really not much in this book that you can't get from surfing the web, though perhaps not quite so conveniently packaged.  This book feels like the writer watched a few seasons of Ghost Hunters and then spent some time cruising paranormal hot spots to see what all the fuss is about.  While there's nothing wrong with that, it's just not the book I wanted to read.

If you're a seasoned ghost hunter or serious paranormal enthusiast, don't bother with this book.  There's just not enough added knowledge or even entertainment value to make it worth the money.  If you're an armchair ghost lover or someone looking to plan a trip to a haunted place then you might enjoy it, but there are better sources out there.