Monday, December 1, 2008

Review: A Haunting Seasons 1 and 2

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had a chance to watch seasons one and two of "A Haunting," a television series produced by the Discovery Channel about encounters with ghosts and other paranormal manifestations. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a real fan of shows like this and I'll watch and enjoy just about any sort of paranormal documentary. Not only do I find them entertaining, but I often take away bits of folklore that might someday prove useful in my magical practice.

"A Haunting" features dramatizations that are essentially somewhat hokey, so if you're not a B-movie fan like me you might find them distracting or downright annoying. However, they are pretty well-done for the genre and the show manages to be more interesting and entertaining than most of the other paranormal shows that I've seen the Discovery Channel produce. The incidents dramatized on the show follow the familiar "haunted house" narrative. Usually a couple or family moves into a new home and encounters small, unexplained disturbances. These escalate until the homeowners are compelled to take action, which usually means calling in paranormal investigators, priests, mediums, or all of the above to resolve the haunting.

One of the main things that I took away from the show is that paranormal investigators are useless. Seriously. I don't know if that was the producers' intention, but the tactics that they use to resolve the haunting usually fail. The investigators spend a lot of time documenting things like temperature shifts and odd occurances, and do research to find out the "reason" for the haunting. Here's a news flash - this idea that spirits haunt a house for some external reason and that once get what they want they will just leave is a literary device, not any sort of factual observation. Spirits stay in a place because they want to stay, and they usually are not about to be talked out of it or appeased.

At the same time, priests are called upon in a number of the cases to bless the house or expel the spirits and that usually doesn't work either. In fact, it tends to make the spirits mad and often the manifestations increase. While there's nothing wrong per se with the Roman Catholic magical system, this show pretty much confirms my suspicion based on my own studies that the Church doesn't have many people in it these days with real magical talent. Furthermore, the intercessory structure of the rites implies that such ability might not be required, except that to perform effective magick you just do need it and there are no workarounds.

Mediums present the opposite problem. You would expect someone who studies ghosts to have a reasonable grasp of magical techniques, but with mediums that doesn't seem to be the case. Aleister Crowley referred to spiritualism as "low-grade necromancy" for a reason - most of the mediums on the show practice the "yoo hoo, come and get me" school of invocation. No circle, no ritual forms, nothing that might allow them to control the spiritual energy that they are trying to summon up. And, no surprise, they often get themselves into trouble and have to break contact with the entities, and they generally can't talk the ghosts into leaving. The trouble with mediums is not a lack of talent, but a lack of skill. Unlike magicians, they seem to rely solely on intuition and raw ability. This lack of discipline makes their powers unreliable at best.

So I suppose you can see where I'm going with this - to expel a ghost you need a magician who has both natural talent and a disciplined spiritual practice. Such an individual can get rid of a ghost with a simple banishing field - the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram followed by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, which will flatten all spiritual influences in the area where it is cast. You do need to make sure that the anchor, the point in the house from which the spirits emanate, is within the field, but other than that it's pretty easy. If you can't find the anchor spot, set up a matrix of talismans around the entire property to extend the banishing field and you should be able to shut down any paranormal activity within its boundaries.

So, you might ask, am I willing to put my money where my mouth is and clear ghosts from a house? Sure! In fact, if you have a poltergeist that can actually move stuff around get in touch with me. I have this idea about binding it into a crystal so that I can have it bring me sodas from the refrigerator when I'm hanging out on the couch watching TV. I mean, my magician friends would be so impressed!

Want to buy your own copy of A Haunting Seasons 1 and 2? Order from my Books and Media page and you can help support Augoeides.

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Courie said...

I've seen all of these shows also. They are total entertainment. One I really liked was called "Demon Boy" I think. It showed a mother successfully ridding her son of possession through Native American methods. I really like the episodes when the families try non Christian methods of banishing. There were only a handful of them, but like Paranormal State, they weren't afraid to show that Jesus wasn't the only thing that could scare off a ghost.

Ananael Qaa said...

I think I saw the episode with the Native American banishing. The mother wound up having to do it twice, but it was one of the few methods from the first two seasons that appeared to actually work. The Catholic priests were a lot less reliable.

Anonymous said...

The episode Spellbound. They directly call Wicca Satan Worship. This show has a horrible bias against non Christian religions. If they threw this kind of slander at a major religion theyd get sued.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yes, that particular show was pretty bad. On the other hand, the Catholic priests who are constantly trying to bless these haunted houses and wind up making things worse (Every time! Seriously!) don't come away looking great either.

Never bless the house. Just don't do it! All it does is make the ghosts mad.