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Ghosts Caught on Film 3: Photographs of the Supernatural, by Gordon Rutter

Publication Details: David & Charles. ISBN-13: 9780715339039
Publish Date: August, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Ghosts Caught on Film 3 is an all-new compendium of more extraordinary phenomena caught on film. Featuring a selection of contemporary ghost pictures collected as part of a ground-breaking survey by popular psychologist, Richard Wiseman and leading Fortean, Gordon Rutter. Paranormal expert Gordon Rutter explores this intriguing collection which includes shadowy figures, strange mists and ghostly apparitions. It is a treat for all fans of ghosts and the paranormal and another opportunity to explore the unexplainable.

Gordon Rutter is a founder of the Edinburgh Fortean Society, and head of the Charles Fort Institute. He was a co-organiser of the highly successful Science of Ghosts conference in Edinburgh in 2009.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality, edited by Harald Walach, Stefan Schmidt and Wayne B. Jonas

Publication Details: Springer. ISBN 978-94-007-2078-7
Publish Date: August, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality presents a variety of perspectives by leading thinkers on contemporary research into the brain, the mind and the spirit. This volume aims at combining knowledge from neuroscience with approaches from the experiential perspective of the first person singular in order to arrive at an integrated understanding of consciousness.  Individual chapters discuss new areas of research, such as near death studies and neuroscience research into spiritual experiences, and report on significant new theoretical advances.

Contents: Neuroscience, Consciousness, Spirituality – Questions, Problems and Potential Solutions: An Introductory Essay, H. Walach; Mindfulness in East and West – is it the Same? S. Schmidt; Setting our own Terms: How we used Ritual to Become Human, M.J. Rossano; Neuroscience and Spirituality – Findings and Consequences, M. Beauregard; Consciousness: a Riddle and a Key in Neuroscience and Spirituality, D. Jeanmonod; Generalized Entanglement - A Nonreductive Option for a Phenomenologically Dualist and Ontologically Monist View, H. Walach, H. Römer; Complementarity of Phenomenal and Physiological Observables: A Primer on Generalised Quantum Theory and its Scope for Neuroscience and Consciousness Studies, H. Römer, H. Walach; Hard problems in philosophy of mind and physics: Do they point to spirituality as a solution? N. von Stillfried; Brain Structure and Meditation. How Spiritual Practice Shapes the Brain, U. Ott, B.K. Hölzel & D. Vaitl; Neurophysiological correlates to psychological trait variables in experienced meditative practitioners, T. Hinterberger, et. al.; Reconsidering the Metaphysics of Science from the Inside Out, J.W. Schooler, J.N. Schooler; Mindfulness meditation: deconditioning & changing view, H. Barendregt; Endless Consciousness. A concept based on scientific studies on Near-Death Experience, P. van Lommel; The hard problem revisited: from cognitive neuroscience to Kabbalah and back again, B.L. Lancaster; Towards a Neuroscience of Spirituality, W.B. Jonas; Sufism and Rapid Wound Healing, H. Hall;  An Emerging New Model for Consciousness: The Consciousness Field Model, R.K.C. Forman

Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable - and Couldn't, by Steve Volk

Publication Details: HarperOne. ISBN: 9780061857713
Publish Date: July, 2011

From the publisher’s website: More than seventy percent of Americans believe in paranormal activity. But even with a family-ghost story lurking in his own background, seasoned journalist Steve Volk has been like most of those millions of Americans – reticent to talk about his experience in polite company. If so many of us have similar stories to tell, why are we so reluctant to take them seriously? Paranormal claims don’t traditionally sit well with reporters, but Volk decided to focus his gimlet-eyed tenacity on a new beat: the world of psychics, UFOs, and things that go bump in the night. It’s a rollicking ride as Volk introduces us to all sorts of fringe-dwellers, many of them reluctant to admit to their paranormal experiences: a NASA astronaut-turned-mystic, a world-famous psychologist who taught us about dying and then decided death may not exist at all, and brave scientists attempting to verify what mystics have been reporting for millennia. Volk investigates what happens in the brains of people undergoing religious experiences, learns how to control his own dreams, and goes hunting for specters in his family’s old haunted house. From his journey into the bizarre, Volk returns with a compelling argument that we need to allow for a middle space, a place where paranormal phenomena can be weird and compelling; raise crucial questions; and, quite possibly, remain unexplainable. He rejects the polarized options the twenty-first century seems to offer us: to passionately embrace or hotly reject, to revere only science or only spirituality. And he underscores, again and again, that by raising our most existential questions—why are we here, are we alone in the universe, and what happens when we die?—paranormal stories are in fact a crucial point of connection. It turns out that these “fringe” experiences strike at the core of what it means to be human.

Review by Tom Ruffles

If This be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnosis, by Guy Lyon Playfair

Publication Details: ISBN-13: 978-1907661846
Publish Date: July, 2011

In 1951, a young hospital doctor treated a patient suffering from a rare and debilitating skin disease - thought to be incurable - with a single session of hypnosis, unaware that he was about to make medical history. The case caused a sensation. Doctors described it as ‘unprecedented and inexplicable’ and ‘a challenge to current concepts of the relation between mind and body’. Like many, author Guy Lyon Playfair wondered how on earth the hypnotist did it, and unlike many he was determined to find out. In this lively, provocative and meticulously researched book he attempts to meet that challenge and explain the ‘miraculous’ cure that was fully documented in the British Medical Journal, with its unexpected aftermath, and to open up the whole subject of the role played by the mind in the healing process.

More than two centuries since Mesmer and his pupil the Marquis de Puységur introduced an ancient healing technique into Western medicine, the question of what happens to a person under hypnosis remains to be fully explained. Yet, seemingly unaware of it, the medical profession already has the key to a technique of incalculable potential benefit, the true nature of which it still seems reluctant to face. Playfair maintains that the unspoken transfer of information between one living being and another, and the ability of the mind to move matter without the use of physical force are important but neglected aspects of the art of healing. Far from being occult superstitions or mere speculations, such natural abilities have been shown repeatedly – in life and laboratory – to be matters of fact. Their suppression in Western society can no longer be justified medically. Nor should the practice of hypnosis be confined, as it tends to be in medical practice, merely to the treatment of minor psychosomatic complaints. Playfair draws on a wide range of source material, much of it hitherto buried in orthodox medical and specialist literature, to show that it is neglect, rather than lack of knowledge, that is preventing the widespread use of an inexpensive and natural healing process, the full potential of which has yet to be explored. If This Be Magic is as topical today as it was when it was first published in 1985.

Haunted House in Switzerland, by Volker Anding

Publish Date: June, 2011

From the publisher’s website: A documentary film by Volker Anding in cooperation with ZDF/ARTE - German with English subtitles.  Director‘s Cut 2011 (90 minutes)

The best documented Poltergeist case in history, based on the diary of the Swiss lawyer Melchior Joller.

The well-respected lawyer and member of the Swiss National Council, Melchior Joller, lived with his wife and seven children in the village of Stans, outside Lucerne. An urbane, enlightened man, he fought against "backward thinking" and reviled all forms of superstition. Yet of all people, this progressive man discovered his house was haunted by a poltergeist, which ultimately was to destroy his existence and bring about his tragic end. Windows and doors were opened and shut until they shattered, chairs were hurled across the room, pictures and items of furniture were tipped over, stones rained down narrowly missing the children. Since these paranormal manifestations were so loud and usually occurred in broad daylight, the presence of the poltergeist did not remain a secret for very long. The astonished local villagers would gather to watch these inexplicable manifestations. Newspapers ran the story, fuelling a veritable poltergeist tourist boom. Hundreds of visitors flocked to the village to witness the phenomena first hand.

The film is a modern documentary detective thriller, narrated on several levels.  As with any good "whodunit", the scene of the "crime", the original 200-year-old haunted house serves as the venue for the initial investigation. All the exhibits and pieces of evidence are collated: newspaper cuttings, photos, documents and details of various "ghost stories" recorded by local inhabitants (oral history) and the original diary entries, which form the central theme of the film. Present at this meeting is an illustrious group of experts, the engineer Werner Husmann, the "Ghosthunter" Dr. Walter von Lucadou, the Capuchin priest Dietrich Wiederkehr, the magician Christoph Borer, and last but not least the medium Beatrice Rubli.

See for further details

A review of Volker Anding's film, with supplementary material, can be found on Scribd:

... früher da war ich mal groß. Und ... - Indizienbeweise für ein Leben nach dem Tod und die Wiedergeburt, by Dieter Hassler

Publication Details: Shaker Media. ISBN-13: 978-3868586466
Publish Date: June, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Spontane "Erinnerungen" kleiner Kinder an ihre angeblichen "früheren Leben" liefern die relativ überzeugendsten empirischen Hinweise darauf, dass wir Menschen in unserer Individualität den Tod überdauern und in einem neuen Körper wiedergeboren werden. In diesem Buch geht es nicht um Glaubensinhalte oder Esoterik, sondern um Erfahrungsberichte, die in elf ausführlich dokumentierten Fällen (darunter zwei deutsche) und 267 Kurzbeispielen anschaulich werden lassen, was wir von außergewöhnlichen Kindern lernen können.

Prof. Ian Stevenson, vier weitere Professoren und andere Forscher haben das Fallmaterial, das diesem Buch zugrunde liegt, in knapp einem halben Jahrhundert in aller Welt gesucht, geprüft, zusammengetragen und zumeist in den USA veröffentlicht. Das vorliegende Buch erspart dem Leser für einen profunden Einstieg ins Thema die Mühe, das in Deutschland nicht leicht zugängliche Material zusammensuchen und in Englisch lesen zu müssen. Viele Aspekte und alle bisherigen Erkenntnisse werden hier angesprochen und zusammengefasst.


From the author:  Circumstantial Evidence for Survival of Death and ReincarnationVol. 1: Cases of the Reincarnation Type (CORT)

Since Professor Ian Stevenson’s death in 2007, reincarnation research has slowed, or even ground to a halt. This book aims to present the German reader with a thorough overview of the results so far attained, avoiding the necessity to search through scattered English literature.

The book draws mainly on Stevenson’s work because his is predominant, but it also includes cases and experiences from other academic researchers in the field. However, it is not just another book on reincarnation: it is unique in the way the topic is addressed.  In Part I, eleven CORTs from Stevenson, Mills, Haraldsson, Andrade, and Bowman, including two new cases from Germany, are discussed in detail.

In Part II, each of the many elements of a CORT is addressed, illustrated with 269 short examples. Elements are, for example: announcements, dreams, birthmarks, statements, recognition, emotions, and character traits, among many others.

Children’s statements about experiences from the interim or from the beyond have been collected in order to make them available for future comparison with corresponding statements from other fields of anomalous experience.

Part III tackles the various arguments against reincarnation stemming from modern physics, brain-research, evolution theory and scans, examining alternative explanations.

The book also serves as a guide to the literature in English and German, and forms a kind of “Köchel-catalogue” to Stevenson’s published case reports. A glossary is provided for those unfamiliar with the subject, and FAQs provide a quick summary.  Prof. Erlendur Haraldsson has kindly written a very positive foreword, and a detailed index is included.

A sample of the book can be found at:

Schreckliche Gesellschaft. Das Spukhaus zu Stans und das Leben von Melchior Joller, by Lukas Vogel

Publication Details: Verlag hier+jetzt, Baden. ISBN 978-3-03919-237-3
Publish Date: June, 2011

Schreckliche Gesellschaft. Das Spukhaus zu Stans und das Leben von Melchior Joller [Terrible company: the haunted house at Stans and the life of Melchior Joller]

German language text.

From the author: Following isolated incidents starting in 1860, the spooky terror struck with full force on the holiday of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on 15 August 1862. Over two months, especially during the day, one could feel strong rumbling and doors and windows flew open and closed; occasionally, voices were heard, objects flew through the air, and family members felt the cold touch of hands at night. This lasted until the family fled the house on 23 October 1862.

The events of late summer 1862 at the Spichermatt, the home of Melchior Joller (1818-1865), have so far been known from two sources. One of them is Joller’s own publication Darstellung selbsterlebter mystischer Erscheinungen (Zurich, 1863), written in the style of a detached, cool report and for this reason generally considered as trustworthy until now. The other is Fanny Moser’s complementary research in her book Spuk – Irrglaube oder Wahrglaube? (Baden, 1950). Lukas Vogel’s new book sheds light on the Joller ghost case both by using new sources and by placing it in its historical and biographical context.

Spirit Voices: The First Live Conversation Between Worlds, by Mark L. Cowden

Publication Details: Anomalist Books. ISBN: 1933665548
Publish Date: June, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Mark L. Cowden is the audio-visual technician who recorded what is believed to be the first ever documented case of a live, two-way conversation with the spirit world. In early 2010, at an apparently haunted hotel in Northern Ireland, Mark was part of a small team of people who were filming a television documentary series about ghost stories when something incredible happened. While a medium and a psychic investigator sat on a bed in the next room and attempted to contact the spirit of a ghost in the hotel, Mark was able to record not only the medium's side of the conversation—and her report of the responses she was receiving from the spirit—but the spirit's replies directly as well! With cameras rolling, an independent television crew documented the whole process. Not only is this believed to be the first time anybody has ever managed to record a whole conversation between this world and the next, it was also a first for television. Spirit Voices documents Mark's work in the field of paranormal forensics and details the technology and methods he developed to achieve such ground-breaking results. 

Review by Tom Ruffles 

The Afterlife Unveiled: What the Dead are Telling Us About Their World, by Stafford Betty

Publication Details: O Books, ISBN-13: 978-1846944963
Publish Date: June, 2011
The Afterlife Unveiled, by Stafford Betty

From the publisher’s website: What happens after we die? Spirits speaking through mediums know. They want us to know. This book unveils their world.

Stafford Betty earned his PhD in theology from Fordham University, teaches religious studies at California State University in Bakersfield, and has gradually evolved into a world expert on afterlife studies. Originally a specialist in Asian religious thought and the philosophy of religion, he branched out into paranormal research when he found the big questions about life's meaning unanswered in the safe, tidy world of academic orthodoxy. "Paranormal studies is the next frontier for philosophers and scientists to venture into," Professor Betty says. He has published five books of fiction, his latest "The Imprisoned Splendor" (November 2011), which has as its setting the afterlife. When not writing and teaching, he tries to guide his children, enjoys watching BBC drama with his wife in the evenings, and golfs once a week. He lives in Bakersfield, California.

See Review by Ted Dixon

Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, by Charles Colbert

Publication Details: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN-13: 978-0812243253
Publish Date: May, 2011

Spiritualism emerged in western New York in 1848 and soon achieved a wide following due to its claim that the living could commune with the dead. In Haunted Visions: Spiritualism and American Art, Charles Colbert focuses on the ways Spiritualism imbued the making and viewing of art with religious meaning and, in doing so, draws fascinating connections between art and faith in the Victorian age.

Examining the work of such well-known American artists as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, William Sydney Mount, and Robert Henri, Colbert demonstrates that Spiritualism played a critical role in the evolution of modern attitudes toward creativity. He argues that Spiritualism made a singular contribution to the sanctification of art that occurred in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The faith maintained that spiritual energies could reside in objects, and thus works of art could be appreciated not only for what they illustrated but also as vessels of the psychic vibrations their creators impressed into them.

Such beliefs sanctified both the making and collecting of art in an era when Darwinism and Positivism were increasingly disenchanting the world and the efforts to represent it. In this context, Spiritualism endowed the artist's profession with the prestige of a religious calling; in doing so, it sought not to replace religion with art, but to make art a site where religion happened.

Charles Colbert teaches American art history at Portland State University. He is the author of A Measure of Perfection: Phrenology and the Fine Arts in America.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Altering Consciousness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Etzel Cardeña and Michael Winkelman

Publication Details: Praeger. pISBN-13 978-0-31338-308-3; eISBN-13 978-0-31338-309-0
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: This authoritative, multidisciplinary overview of altered states of consciousness (ASC) shows how their study is necessary to gain a fundamental understanding of human culture, history, and biology.  From prehistoric caves to current raves and virtual reality technology, humanity has always sought to alter its consciousness. Altered states of consciousness can be achieved through dreaming, drumming, dancing, meditation, hypnosis, fasting, sex, and a number of other human activities. These strategies affect consciousness by mimicking the natural responses of our nervous system.

Altered consciousness is one of humanity's most mystical and life-altering aspects. These remarkable changes in mental state have understandably been a topic of general interest and scientific inquiry across time. Beyond simply satisfying our curiosity, however, studies focused upon altered consciousness can also bring valuable insights into our experience, biology, and culture.

This unprecedented two-volume set will intrigue anyone interested in psychology, biology and neurology, science, history, arts and the humanities, and literature on consciousness, from general readers to scholars and researchers. An impressive collection of international contributors address altered states of consciousness from the perspectives of history, evolution, psychology, culture, literature, human biology, contemporary science, and society, seeking to illuminate the causes, effects, and meanings of altered consciousness. The first volume provides an introduction and centers on the importance of altered states in history, culture, and the humanities, while the second volume presents biological and psychological perspectives on altered consciousness and examines their potential for healing and pathology. 

Between Two Worlds: The Diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant 1909-1924, by Peter Lord

Publication Details: National Library of Wales. ISBN-13: 978-1862250864
Publish Date: May, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Between two worlds: the diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant 1909 – 1924 reveals the inner thought of the life of a woman who combined high politics, campaigning and love during a troubled historical period.

The diary of Winifred Coombe Tennant (1874-1956) is an extraordinary document. Its daily entries (1909-55) amount to one and a quarter million words. They document the writer’s intense inner life alongside her acute observation of the outside world through a period of unprecedented upheaval.

Winifred struggled all her life with a tension between her metaphysical beliefs and the practicalities of changing the social order. She was the most closely studied spiritual medium of her time, and the lover of Gerald Balfour, cabinet minister and brother of the former Prime Minister. Subsequently she became an intimate of Lloyd George and a frequent visitor to 10 Downing Street, where she witnessed momentous events such as the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. She was a suffragist, stood for parliament, and was the first female British delegate to the League of Nations. As a patron of young painters, she became a central figure in the Welsh art world.

This annotated edition of the diary presents the most intense and eventful years of both her public and private lives. It may be read as literature, for the story of a spiritual journey taken against a background of personal tragedy and public endeavour. For the academic community, it reveals important new information and personal insights into events affecting the fields of women’s studies, political and social history, and psychology.

Review by Tom Ruffles