The Old Gods are dying. As much as we love them, and as foundational as they were to our understanding of what we now refer to as “the paranormal,” the encounters of days past have begun to wane. “Bigfoot hunters,” Nessie, Communion , Area 51— for at least two decades, the trend in studies of the unusual or supernatural has been away from the traditional, materialist interpretations and assumptions surrounding these encounters. It’s no longer good enough to discuss “Secret UFO Bases” without going further into just what one means by “UFO” and what you should do if you find one.
We at the Society for Liminal Cartography have chosen to stop depending upon the Bob Lazars and MUFONs of the world, and to instead embark upon a methodology for exploring the Liminal that attempts to view the paranormal with fresh eyes (Ed. Not literal eyes). We want to investigate the uncanny without depending upon the assumptions of those who have come before us, even though we can appreciate their value and experience.
For your consideration, we present the following hypotheses, which underlie our approach:
1. Continuity of “Being.”
There is no “spirit world,” nor is there a “real world.” All events occur in the same experiential space; some are just easier to perceive than others. You don’t really “travel” to the spirit world, nor do spirits or paranormal entities “travel” to the physical world. Nature isn’t something you “go to;” a bee that flies into a city isn’t somehow leaving “nature” behind.
2. Continuity of Phenomena.
The hard and fast lines between what we consider “paranormal” manifestations aren’t so hard or fast. Charles Fort and John Keel may be the most famous proponents of this concept, as is Jacques Vallee, in his Magonian work. UFOs, Ghosts, Hominids, Cryptids, Fairies and Fae, Elementals, Nature Spirits, etc., may all be individual manifestations of the same phenomena.
UFO abductions and fairy abductions are an expression of the same underlying phenomena. It should be possible to summon UFOs using medieval planetary sigils from grimoires; someone plagued by abduction attempts may benefit from leaving milk (and cookies?) out for the visitors, or springs of holly in the house. It should also be possible to speak with a Sasquatch using a Ouija board. The Loch Ness monster may be the ghost of an extinct dinosaur. Werewolves may disappear into an explosion of orbs, and portals may open in city fountains. There is no limit to experience and/or manifestation.
For this reason, there are also no limits to the kind of tools paranormal investigators may find useful. Some modern investigators have already begun using Tarot and psychomantea during their investigations. We have successfully used dowsing rods to locate mysterious items. Technological devices may also prove useful. If it gets results, use it!
3. Normalizing the Paranormal.
The astounding number of individuals who are not only interested in, but have actually experienced, the paranormal indicates that these experiences are not exceptional. They are an essential part of human nature. Rather than ridiculing or demeaning those who have these experiences, it is absolutely important to assume positive intent.
We also want to make these subjects accessible to everybody! If a six year old reports that a squirrel stared at him in a strange way, this is just as, if not more, significant than a dozen blurry 19th century pictures of “orbs.”
4. Animistic Approach to the Liminal.
Since everything is full of “life force,” paranormal instances aren’t constrained to human experience. To put it another way, paranormal entities may be “ghosts” etc., but don’t need to be the ghosts of humans. Anything that has at one time contained life force can manifest liminally. This doesn’t refer to “haunted” or “possessed” objects, although the lines may certainly blur. Rather, anything that exists has some kind of energy that may persist beyond the physical.
Trees can have ghosts, and so can insects. Microorganisms can manifest as phantoms. “Ghost” bodies of water can appear — the life force contained in streams and rivers may instantiate where they once flowed. You may stub your toe on the spirit of a rock, or feel a creeping sensation as a spectral spider climbs up your arm.
This continuity of life force isn’t limited to items that we consider “natural.” In fact, this approach to the paranormal understands that human-made/manufactured objects may also be imbued with their own “spirit” (see “Tsukumogami” for an interesting correlative). That strange, soft knocking you hear may be a ghost hammer, working away for eternity….
5. Remythologizing Your World.
Myths are stories that give us meaning. By exploring and investigating on a hyper-local level, you may begin to find traces of an underlying mythological structure interwoven with everyday experience. Begin with your own community and reforge a connection. Have you found the local entrance to the Hypogeum? Have you opened the door?
Go to your local Historical Society and find out who lived in your house before you. Ask your community on social media if anyone else has felt spooky vibes in that grove of trees. Grab a pair of dowsing rods and go looking for fairy houses in the park. Give your life meaning, and have fun!
And, when you’ve done all of that, PUT IT ON THE MAP!