Saturday, October 11, 2014

Outdoor Paranormal Photography

Frank from Delaware Bikes Organization wrote with this question:
We did a night time bicycle ride for skeptics. I took this photo in Nov. 2011, at the X cemetery in.... B. is on the right in the photo. He was examining the monument before walking toward me as I captured the image. Initially, we thought that it was caused by breathing in front of the lens, however, we were unable to recreate anything remotely close...
I never bothered to do anything with it, since it's impossible to prove. However, perhaps there are features of the image you have witnessed before?
Chair, Delaware Bikes
(some names and actual locations have been omitted)
Robin from DPRG replied: Thanks for the inquiry. That is an interesting photo. Outside photography is tricky for so many natural reasons.  I would suggest smoke, BUT that usually twirls around in wispy circlets. It is interesting the way it's all in one fairly tight mass. I wouldn't therefore think fog either - because of the close configuration. 
I love a skeptic. I'm more of the school of hard knocks myself. I like to first like to look for a rational explanation, and if not we might assume something was going on. Having said that, I checked a resource of mine which does show a photo of smoke, as from tobacco. And it was like I described at first, whirly and twisty, and not at all like your mist. The resource goes onto suggest a fog as being the next most logical explanation.
I realize the photo is a few years old, but if you do notice an anomaly in a photo there are a few things you could do at the time of the shooting. First, document the temperature if you can, and also note the changes in temperature during the preceding hours. Fall nights do get chilly, with temperatures dropping abruptly, which would lead to the condensation appearing.
The source also remarks that a good digital camera can capture carbon dioxide which is released by trees and vegetation in swampy areas, even if the area appears dry.
A couple caveats; the author cautions about making too much of "faces" seen in a mist - a tendency called parediolia. If you are also witnessing the fog while you're photographing, make note of its changing density and watch to see if it appears to be following you about.
And do what photographers do, bracket your photos. In other words, take a series of picture. If you notice something strange on one photo, take successive photos of the same scene. Check photos before and photos after. Does the "fog" move or stay the same? Is it in all the photos or only one? Something paranormal will likely appear and disappear quickly, or move about seeming to follow the action. Something natural like a fog will stay longer, dissipating much more slowly.

False Positives


Knowing the weather conditions and or humidity when taking a picture is important.  Notice the "orb" by my son's face as he was working on his snow fort.  This isn't a spirit trying to communicate with him, but a rain drop.  The snow had stopped this particular night, and it had begun to rain.  I was using the flash setting on my camera to take pictures because it had gotten very dark.  Later, on review, I noticed, voila, I had an orb! What actually happened is the flash reflected off a rain drop resulting in a really cool orb shot.  Snow, rain, dust, pollen and bugs are all capable of creating the orb effect in a photo, especially when used in conjunction with a flash. 

Similarly, dust, bugs, humidity, pollen, rain, snowflakes, all are extremely reflective in a camera with an IR setting, such as night-time surveillance cameras. I can't tell you how many orb questions I receive from people capturing such on their surveillance cams.  To date, and I've been doing this a long time, I've still never witnessed a n Orb photograph that I seriously considered the real thing. 

Cigarette Smoke and Strange Fogs

These two photos below of a strange fog are actually cigarette smoke, with the smoker placed behind the camera. This had none of the wispy, curly features that other texts had suggested would take place with cigarette smoke, but instead produced a most believable odd fog effect. The one the left is thick to the point where it might even be mistaken for a spirit coalescing.  So before you consider spirit, you might want to find out if there are some sneaky smokers getting in a quick drag. 

The Ghost in the Details; Slow Shutter Speeds

 This strange effect was caused by a slow shutter speed in a low light situation. I dislike the flat effect of a flash, so I avoid flash as often as I can.  But a slow shutter in low light causes ghosting effects in subjects whenever they move.  Notice in the first shot just the hand seems to be fuzzy.  In the second the entire head of the subject appears semi-opaque.  Is it a ghost? No, it's my son who is in perpetual motion.  A strong indicator of this anomaly are lines of light. Notice the line of light on the right side of the second picture. The light lines can also appear jaggedy or look like lightning flashes.  If you take such a picture and don't examine it immediately, and then look at it later you might believe you captured a ghost.  I say this in all honesty, having just watched a recent episode of Ghost Hunters where a photographer did just that.  The picture seemed to show a ghostly form, but also displayed the lightning flashes of light that would indicate camera movement in a low light situation. Photography students are taught to tripod any photos using a 60 shutter speed or less.  But whoever listens to what their photography instructor taught them?

The Evil Eye

Recently the team was contacted by a family whose teenage girl was worried.  Being a typical teenager she took multiple selfies of herself using the flash on her phone camera.  Her photos often showed what she described as an evil eye in the photos.  She was so unnerved by the evil eye that she purchased a new phone. But even with the phone she kept getting the evil eye effect. So I turned the flash on, and took a selfie of myself with my phone reflecting off the mirror. And voila, I too got the evil eye effect.  It turned out the "evil eye" is actually a reflection of the IR light on the camera.  The camera focuses with an IR light. The IR light is sent out and when it hits something solid it bounces back.  The time it takes to bounce back allows the camera to determine the distance between camera and subject. It then focuses for that distance.  Using the flash and a mirror illuminated and reflected that IR light which would normally be invisible to our eyes, complete with a ghosting effect around the light at the center, creating what looked like an evil eye....imagine evil laughter here. 
Notice the evil eye effect in the photo below, on the shoulder of the team's Co-Director - in yellow hoodie.  It can also occur when there's strong light sources in front of the camera. 

 Fireflies and Traveling Spiders

Sometimes it takes me awhile to work these things out. A woman sent me several pictures. It was a summer evening, and she had been taking pictures of her family when she noticed small, green orbs showing up in her pictures.  She sent them to me and I scratched my head.  On the one hand they did act like orbs should act, a ball of light illuminated from within, not being reflected from without.  And then it dawned me, it was summer night at dusk and the photos were being taken in a grassy area. Fireflies! Mystery Solved.

Another inquiry took me longer.  A gentleman had set up a deer cam in the forest near his house.  Deer cams shoot video when something moves in the frame.  In this case the video was filmed at night, using the camera's IR setting, with a lovely doe munching by a tree calmly when this filmy, guazy string floats by over her head.  I admit I was somewhat at a loss on that one, until I stepped out on my back porch one day and saw a newly hatched spider floating by on a wisp of gossamer web.  That's how newly hatched spiders find a home.  They hatch from a nest, throw out a bit of web, which catches the breeze and floats them off to a new locale. Cobwebs and spider webs are both eerily reflective on an IR camera. 

Reflections and Pareidolia

A gentleman sent in this picture.  He felt he'd captured a ghost in the window of this quaint little shop in Rehoboth Beach.  (1st story window to the right of the door) In the window he saw what he thought looked like a ghost wearing a hat.  The building had a reputation, apparently, for being haunted, which probably increased the confusion. But the form in the window isn't a spirit but a reflection off the window.  Notice that just above the figure is the perfect outline of the tree branch which has the same light quality. 

This is a case of pareidolia. Pareidolia is  defined as a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists.  Our minds do this naturally, they're hardwired to try to make order out of chaos. That's why we see pictures in the clouds, or the face of Jesus in a water stain. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nature Spirits, Elementary Spirits or Elementals

By Robin M. Strom-Mackey

In the darkest part of the forest, a set of eyes follow your progress, you sense footfalls behind you and notice the strange behavior of the crows which seem to flit from tree to tree.  Why do they seem to be following you? And ahead, was that a child you saw step behind a tree? Night is falling and the shadows are growing.  You feel unnerved but you can’t say why.  Perhaps it’s just an overall uneasiness that you’ll be lost, like some Neo-Freudian version of Hansel and Gretel. Or perhaps it’s a fear as you traverse this dark recess of the world that your shiny, dependable, modern notions of safety and order simply do not apply here.  However you define the fear, however irrational it may seem, you know you feel as if something is marking your progress, willing you to leave, or perhaps tempting you to stay…forever.
If you’re in the paranormal field long enough you begin to collect stories and accounts that defy easy categorization, locations haunted by creatures other than the spirits of the dead.  While anything beyond normal becomes the purview of the paranormal investigator, we appear as a group to be a bit in the dark when it comes to elemental spirits.  While researching this article I found many websites devoted to fairies and elves.  It became clear that the subject has been plowed and plowed happily by occultists, spiritualists and antiquated middle-ages philosophers.  Meanwhile the serious paranormal investigator has kept her distance.  And for good reason.  As one blogger put it, tell someone you investigate ghosts and you get a sort of grudging respect, but tell them you’re going in search of fairies and you’re likely to end up in a straight- jacket.
But just because little people are out of favor doesn’t mean that we needn’t concern ourselves with the subject as investigators.  The Atlantic Paranormal Society (better known as T.A.P.S.) have investigated at least three such locations for the SyFy television series Ghosthunters.  The team investigated Leap Castle in Ireland which amongst the ordinary spooks was supposedly an Elemental, with the body of a goat and the stink of rotting flesh which had been conjured during a séance gone wrong. The evidence was inconclusive.
However, on another episode, again in Ireland, the team investigated the ruins of Lisheen Castle. During this investigation, on thermal camera, the team captures what appears to be three diminutive beings that follow behind the investigators who are walking a path in the nearby woods. The creatures seem to disappear without explanation.
In season eight, the team investigates Camp Rutledge, Georgia where several people have drowned in the lake and the campers are frightened by odd occurrences; a location that Hawes speculates is haunted by elementals. In this episode the team captured video of what appears to be two glowing eyes on what could only be an enormous creature. The eyes appear to fade inexplicably and move locations.  I mention these episodes because they appear to offer more than simply anecdotal evidence of the existence of elementary spirits, although the amount of anecdotal evidence is abundant and varied as well.
In the book entitled Haunting Experiences, self-proclaimed sensitive and paranormal investigator, Michelle Belanger describes a camp hideaway in the woods of Geauga County, Ohio that is anything but serene.   There appears to be a whole host of creatures that haunt the woods.  Creatures that appear to enjoy tricking hikers off the paths and into the woods, dark things that fly overhead and spirits that wreak havoc with human emotions; not to mention the strangely anthropomorphic behavior of the vast murder of crows that inhabit the region.
While belief in elementary spirits is out of fashion, readers should note that every culture in the world has folklore regarding nature spirits.  The Tibetan and Indian cultures speak to the Nagas, creatures that are half human and half serpent.  The Native Americans believe that all life is imbued with spirit energy, whether from deceased ancestors or elemental spirits in the animals, plants and earth around them. 
Folklore regarding spirits of the air are abundant. The Slavic’s call them Leshes, for Russians they’re Suibotschniks, for Germans the Leshiye (pronounced Lay-shee). These are thought to be androgynous creatures found in groups who protect the forests and are often disguised as foliage. 
The Japanese folklore records a pantheon of supernatural creatures that are thought to inhabit rocks, trees, grass and other natural objects. These creatures are ambiguous regarding humans and need to be appeased often in order to maintain peaceful co-existence (Schumacher, 2013).  The African tribes are varied in their belief system, but most agree that there are a host of spirits both of the deceased and of nature, all falling under the supreme Creator spirit.
And of course the U.K. (but especially Ireland) celebrates an unbelievably rich folklore of elementary spirits far too numerous and abundant to name.  Among the better known is the tradition of the Sidhe (pronounced Shee) in Ireland, a race of elementals that can be fierce and destructive when provoked. They are known for destroying crops, livestock and attacking children. In antiquity, they were blamed for swapping healthy babies with sick changelings, and murdering lone travelers found on the road at night.
The Tuatha de Danann (pronounced Too-ah day, Thay-nan) also of Ireland were a great host of warrior-like fairies. Driven below by the Milesians, they now live in fairy burghs underground.   This fairy army were known for being militant at times, but also known for being fair and just.  They were also great composers of music, and much of the Irish folk music is said to either be composed by the fairies or inspired by them. Among the hosts of elementary spirits famous throughout the U.K. are also Leprechauns, Silkies, Will-O-Wisps, Ballybogs, Banshees and Pookas (Fringe Paranormal, 2012).
Certainly before the rise of monotheistic religions, the worship and folklore surrounding elementary spirits was widely accepted and practiced.  Every house had a house gnome or brownie, every spring a water sprite. The Greeks categorized all otherworldly spirits as daemon or daimons. The word became demons in the Christian bible, undoubtedly gaining their negative connotation therein.  
The worship and idolatry of nature spirits fell out of favor with the rise of Christianity.  Forbidden, but not forgotten, nature spirits became, during the Middle Ages,  the purview of occultists, necromancers and alchemists who sought to understand and harness the power of nature in order to advance their agendas whether scientific or clandestine (Ghost Hunters, Inc., 2014) .   The German, Swiss philosopher, physician and alchemist, Auroleus Phillipus Theostratus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541), better known as Paracelsus, is credited for categorizing the Nature Spirits with their specific elements (Page, 2011).  And later the Abbe de Villars (1635-1673) wrote a treatise on the subject entitled the Comte de Gabalis from which much that is written about elementary spirits is still drawn (Melton, ed., 2001).
According to de Villars and Paracelsus nature spirits, elementals or elementary spirits, are manifestations of the element from which they are created.  There are four main categories of elementals corresponding with the four major elements of the Earth, namely air, water, earth and fire – as suggested by antiquity. Created by the purest molecules of each substance sylphs are made from air, gnomes from earth, undines from water, and salamanders of fire.  There are also two other categories, dryads for vegetation and fauns or satyrs representing animal life. 
Elementals is a term often used for elementary spirits, sometimes bearing a negative connotation by Spiritualists indicating non-human spirits of an evil nature.  Some occultists believe elementals to be sub-human, or below humans in mental and moral stature, while others believe them to be slightly below angels in makeup and status. Being non-human and non-corporeal, they are probably better understood as neither completely good nor evil, but with an ambivalent attitude towards humans, especially those who invade their environment.  They may be mischievous or even antagonistic towards people. For the most part elementals are believed to be invisible to anyone but those with clairvoyant abilities, although they can show themselves to one or several people when they choose to do so. 

Nature spirits were created before the coming of man, and now reside in the dark, rarely traversed regions of the world. According to de Villars before the fall of man, the elementary spirits were subject to man, and Adam was able to control the spirits as he himself was in harmony with nature.  However, after the fall of Adam and his subsequent banishment from Eden, humans lost the ability to control nature spirits. We remain thus disconnected until such time as we regain our harmony with nature (Melton, ed., 2001).
Air Spirits
De Villars broke down the four elemental classes by their elements and attributes. Sylphs are created of the purest air particles and inhabit the ether.  De Villars notes that they are considered human in appearance, though with a somewhat fierce looking human demeanor. Despite their appearance sylphs are considered to be benign and somewhat docile creatures who prefer the pursuit of science to creating disharmony.  They are also considered to be mirthful though mercurial in temperament and eccentric in nature. Their love of learning makes them officious toward scholars, with little tolerance for fools.  The females of the race are thought to be somewhat masculine in appearance. It is thought that the sylphs affect those who are bad-tempered or spiteful in personality. 
On a pleasant note, slyphs are associated with the sounds of bells, happy parties and joyful music and are thought to appear in the form of butterflies.  But they have a more sinister reputation as well.  Page notes that most documented elemental hauntings involve air elementals.  They appear to be able to throw and break objects in much the same way as a poltergeist.  In occult literature they are associated with spiritual sexual assault.  Where they linger they are thought to cause aggressive behavior and agitation among humans.   They are also believed to be responsible for suicidal desires to jump from heights.  Perhaps even more sinister, they are sometimes thought to be responsible for cases of abduction and lost-time experiences, and the leaving of fairy rings in fields, behaviors that seem to strongly mimic alien abduction scenarios.  These elementals are also considered to be somehow connected to “fairy forts,” hills and stone henges.   Animals associated with the presence of sylphs include black dogs, horses, badgers, hares and pigs (Page 2011). 
Fringe Paranormal’s Stephen S. writes about the Sidhe (Shee) of Ireland, noting that many of the stories regarding this militant band of “wee folk” describe the Sidhe as being non-gendered, large headed, large-eyed beings who entered homes and abducted people so that they could copulate with them for breeding purposes. He points out that such fantastical stories were as common in ages past as they are now, noting only that nowadays the title has changed somewhat.  Instead of blaming the Sidhe for such sinister abductions, now we claim them as aliens (Fringe Paranormal, 2014). 
Earth Spirits
On the land, or more precisely residing underground, are the gnomes; think Gimli the dwarf from Lord of the Rings. They may also reside in deep forests.  These diminutive creatures are miners of the deep places; and guardians of treasure troves of minerals and precious stones.  These creatures are ingenious engineers, friendly toward human kind and easily commanded.  Female gnomes are thought to be small but very attractive, their style of dress quite curious. Since they are believed to live in a constant subterranean gloom, gnomes are considered to be influential to those of a melancholy nature.  Also in the gnome category are satyrs, pans, dryads, elves and brownies.
Page notes that anecdotal eye-witness accounts of gnomes report sightings with very small men, usually no more than two to three feet in height, who speak with gruff voices.  Female accounts are rare.  The literature and folk history regarding gnomes suggest that they have an adversity to man-made metals, making metal objects disappear or appear. While they are adverse to metals they are attracted to crystals and certain types of stones.  It has been suggested that they may cause a person to have a sudden, overwhelming fear of being buried alive.  Animals are thought to behave strangely when earth spirits are present (Page, 2011).
Water Spirits
The seas and waterways, creeks, ponds and quiet springs of the Earth are inhabited by nymphs or undines. Having power over water, they are also associated with rain, mist and fog.  Among the nymphs, the females far outnumber the males.  The females are so thoroughly beautiful and enchanting that it is said human women pale by comparison.  Several traditions describe nymphs as appearing as a woman in white, often with wet, straggling hair that may entice the foolish into entering the water and drowning. Water spirits are traditionally thought to be influential to those of a calm and otherwise unemotional temperament, just as soothing water cools heat. Water sprites and mermaids are included in this classification.

Nymphs are thought to create frequent and otherwise unexplainable plumbing problems when active in an area, and unexplained pools of water are also reported.  Those sensitive to undines may become obsessed with water (Page, 2011).
Fire Spirits
Salamanders are the beings created of purest flame, hence they were honored for being the givers of fire. The name salamander derives from descriptions which characterize them as being small lizard-like or dragon-like creatures.  They are thought to serve philosophers, though they’re not overly anxious to perform such a role.  The females among the salamanders are rarely seen, but said to be more beautiful than any of other elementals, as they are comprised of the purest element.  Not only are they made up of the purest element, but de Villars explains that they are, “composed of the most subtle particles of the sphere of fire, conglobated and organized by the action of the Universal Fire, so called because it is the principle of all the motions of nature (Melton, ed., 2001).” Paracelsus speculated that salamanders often appear as small balls or tongues of flame, or a glowing orb over water.

They are thought to be extremely intelligent, having created an advanced society with laws that are just and admirable.  Although they live long lives by human standards they are still mortal, and many worship the one Supreme Being with zeal, though have no hope of joining him.  Because they reside in, and are made of, the most pure element of flame, salamanders are thought to be influential to those of an optimistic nature – negativity having been burned away presumably. 

It is thought that the presence of salamanders may cause unexplained eruption of fires, or with people developing a sudden obsession with fire. Page reports that there have been reports of objects such as furniture suddenly catching fire as well as people witnessing fireballs, self-reflecting orbs of light and tongues of flame.  [The phenomena does not include spontaneous human combustion which has been linked to alcohol usage and a high body-fat content, actually being a slow and apparently natural chemical process having nothing of the spontaneous about it.] (Page, 2011)

According to folklore, all elementals are mortal, and the only path to immortality is to mate with a human.  The children born of such a union are thought to be far nobler than any human child could ever be.  Many of the greatest minds of antiquity have been declared offspring of such unions, including such auspicious characters as Zoroaster, Alexander, Hercules and Merlin.  Not all experts agreed on the role of elementals.  Some believed that with their pure natures that they should be considered one step below angels.  Still others believed that elementals should be categorized as demons, especially those elementals that were of lower morality. The occultist A.E. theorized that the angels evoked by mediaeval magicians as well as demons that were called during witchcraft sabots to be higher or lower elementals.  Others have suggested that the domestic spirits of folklore to be subjugated elemental spirits.  Spiritualists have suggested that mischievous spirits that manifest at séances may also be elementals having a bit of fun with their human audience.

During the middle Ages evoking or exorcising elementals was a topic of interest.  It was believed that crystals could be used to call elementals.  To exercise an elemental one must resort to considering their elementary makeup.  To exercise an Earth Element or gnome it was believed necessary to breathe, sprinkle water, burn incense and say a specific prayer to the creatures of the earth.  Air spirits were expelled by breathing to the four cardinal points of the earth, and again reciting prayers to the sylphs.  To rid oneself of a fire element one had to burn sulphur, salt, incense, camphor and white resin on an open flame.  For water a laying on of hands, repeating formulas, mixing salt and ashes of incense as well as other ceremonious rituals had to be performed.  During all occasions a special consecration to all of the four elements was thought important.

Elementals can only reside in their own element thus a sylph cannot reside on the earth or a gnome in the water.  Each elemental tribe was said to have been assigned a supreme ruler. Djin for the salamanders, the ruler of fire, Necksa for the nymphs, Paralda for the sylphs and Gob of the gnomes.  [On a personal observation, notice the similarity between the titles. Djin is the name of the king of the Salamanders, while the Islamic Qur’an speaks of demons by the name of the djinn or jinn.]   Each is said to rule at the cardinal point of the compass, where their particular kingdom exists: gnomes to the north, salamanders the south, undines to the west and sylphs to the east.   

How to Deal with Elementals

 Belanger sums up the fey in this way. “Nearly every culture around the world has tales of beings like this and while the names attributed to them certainly differ, their essential nature remains the same (Belanger, 2009).”  Their essential nature appears to be that they are ambiguous toward humanity overall, especially when humanity encroaches on their territory.  They are not, nor have ever been human, thus their needs, desires and drives differ.  This difference may put them in opposition to man, especially when man invades their territory.  However, they are not above curiosity either, and may wish to study or play with humans.  Elementals are neither evil nor benign, but they can be appeased.  Appeasement appears to be respect for their domain, and an offering of food and/or cream which is always welcome. Belanger reports that she put small cakes out on a tree stump for several days, while asking the spirits verbally to ignore the festivities in the woods for the duration of the weekend, and that this seemed to work well.  It appears that if respected, they elementals may agree to compromises wherein people are allowed to use an area respectfully, after which they depart.   

Indeed, respect appears to be a key component in dealing with elementary spirits.  Older cultures had a natural respect for nature and would often request boons from nature spirits.  With the advance of monotheistic religions praying to nature spirits fell strictly out of favor.   Modern science undoubtedly sounded the death knoll to notions considered superstitious and thus antiquated. But ancient cultures understood the notion of asking and not demanding. They understood the idea that just because something isn’t seen or understood doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  And that perhaps we humans don’t know everything about the universe just yet.


Cockren. A.   “Paracelsus.”  From Alchemy Recovered and Restored. Alchemy Lab Retrieved August 24, 2014 from

Ghost Hunters Incorporated (2014).  “Elementals and Nature Spirits.”  Retrieved August 24, 2014 from

Melton, G. J. editor (2001) Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology 5th edition. Vol. 1. Pages 490-491. Gale Group. Farmington Hills, MI.

Page, Debra (2011). “Elemental Haunting: An Overview for the Paranormal Researcher.” Pacific Paranormal. Retrieved August 24, 2014 from

S. Scott (2012) The Difference Between Ghosts and Nature Spirits.Fringe Paranormal Research Guide: Part III Nature Spirits and Fairies. Retrieved August 24, 2014 from
Schumacher, Mark (2013). Japanese Buddhist Statuary A to Z Photo Dictionary. “Shintō Deities (Kami), Supernatural Animals, Creatures, and Shape Shifters.” Retrieved September 9, 2

Monday, July 14, 2014

Musings of a Paranormal Investigator

The author on an investigation. Notice the mist in the right side of photo. It wasn't present in the picture before, nor in the picture after.
by Robin M. Strom-Mackey

"What is it like to be a paranormal investigator? Well, honestly, it's a lot like fishing."

A few years ago I took up a new hobby. As a middle aged woman with a career and a child at home you might expect me to take up golf, as my husband did. After all, it’s easy on the joints and it would allow me to enjoy well-manicured nature while sporting cute outfits and coordinating clubs. But I went a different route, I became a paranormal investigator
Say you’re a ghost hunter to the uninitiated and images of proton packs and near fatal slimmings come to mind. You probably envision Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray playing high-tech ghost busting conquistadors. That unfortunately is not the reality of paranormal investigating. I’ve not been issued a proton pack to date, and no ghost, according to my research, has ever slimed anyone.
So what is ghost hunting like, you ask? I have to admit, I’ve found ghost hunting to be more like…fishing. Just like fishing, when you’ve got a ghost “on the line,” it is an adrenaline rush like little I’ve ever experienced before. But most of the time, and I mean most of the time, you’re merely casting into the dark. Back home we used to fish for muskies, (short for Muskellunge) an elusive fish that fights like the dickens when hooked. The fisherman’s motto is that a fisherman has to cast 100,000 times before catching one of these beasties. It’s no wonder that one lucky enough to catch a Muskie usually has it stuffed and mounted versus eating it for dinner.
So how often do ghost hunters experience something honestly paranormal? Opinions vary, but somewhere between 1 in 5 investigations to 1 in 20 investigations. In other words you’ll spend somewhere between five or twenty sleepless nights wandering around in spider-ridden old basements and sneezing in dusty, hot attics before you actually capture anything even considered as sound evidence. Granted, what is considered verifiable evidence depends enormously on the investigation group and how rigorous they are with what they collect.
When I say rigorous I’m talking about the degree to which a group or individual is willing to examine the evidence for verification, discarding any occurrences that can be reasonably explained by natural occurrences. Obviously there is a desire to advance the field of study by those in the paranormal field.  The study of the paranormal has always been resoundingly snubbed by the scientific community. Paranormal activity is, after all, unverifiable using scientific methods of study. You can’t, for example, grow a spirit in a test tube and then grow another 1000 just like it. That is not to say that organizations such as the Society for Psychical Research, which was founded by in Great Britain in 1882 by some of the greatest scientific minds of its day, haven’t made advances in paranormal studies. However, the scientific community remains a conservative and skeptical group. Hence, much in the paranormal world has fallen to normal people to investigate, and regular folks aren’t trained in scientific study methods by and large; so evidential review can be somewhat ragged.

 The Careful Skeptics

Some few groups are extremely careful in their data collection, throwing out the vast majority of the evidence they collect in the name of scientific rigor. Technology advancements are helping to make evidence collection extremely precise, at least for groups that have deep pockets and tech know-how. Some savvy teams have constructed systems that record environmental samples of many different data types simultaneously (in some cases several times a second). Such systems can sample temperature, electromagnetic field fluctuations, ion levels, radiation levels etc. streaming all the information real-time to a computer which records it.  Then, when something potentially paranormal occurs, these different types of data can be compared, giving a synchronized second by second picture of what actually changed in the environment during the episode.  The data can then be compared with any audio or video evidence, giving an investigator a much broader picture and hopefully a better idea of how to detect future potential phenomenon.
The Believers

Then are the groups of ambitious amateurs, who blithely call every photo of a flying bug or dust mote an orb, and post everything they catch proudly on the web.  I recently took the brunt of an argument with a woman who was convinced that every photographic anomaly was the face of a spirit.  She proudly pointed out faces and beards and hair in every dust moat captured. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that our brains automatically attempt to find patterns in illogical situations.  It has been dubbed (incorrectly) by many in the paranormal community as matrixing, actually the correct terms are apophenia or pareidolia.

 There is undeniably a certain segment of the population that is psychologically invested in finding confirmation of the paranormal. In other words they desperately want to believe in ghosts, and fully expect to find one.  I wince at these people, because I fear they make all of us look like a gaggle of superstitious charlatans.   

 The Thrill Seekers

 There is also a segment of the population whose motivation is simply to seek out novel experiences.  They want to kick around old buildings for the sheer fun of doing something different. These individuals are not terribly careful with their evidentiary findings, because all they really want is to have some fun. I’ve found the thrill-seeker portion of the population usually loses interest very quickly.  One or two sleepless nights of kicking around in the dark, and hours of evidence review usually convinces them to find another hobby. 

The Fame Seekers

 Over the last few years I’ve been saddened by the increasing number of yet another type of investigator – the fame seekers. With television shows on the paranormal becoming both popular and plentiful, the number of groups whose sole motivation seems to be gaining money or fame has risen exponentially.  Even in the tiny state of Delaware I’ve managed to stumble upon these folk.  Convinced they’re destined to be stars on the next television show, they pretend to expertise they hardly deserve while creating turf wars with other groups.

 These guys are pretty easy to spot.  They’ve got the splashy websites selling t-shirts and over-priced EMF detectors.  They’re either vehemently not accepting applications from new investigators – so please don’t inquire – or they have an initiation process that makes it harder to join the group then it is get a job with the FBI. They’re extremely proprietary about any evidence collected either on their devices or someone else’s equipment.  Whether or not this type of group will do a decent investigation depends on their actual experience (and don’t be fooled, many so called experts have very little experience). In the paranormal community, however, they sew a lot of dissension ruining any type of collegial cooperation that might actually advance the field.

 Personal Journey

 When I first started in the field I applied for entry into a local group.  A year later, bloody and ragged from in-fighting and ego wars I left to start my own organization.  I don’t know whether all groups are as tempestuous as the one I joined, but reading articles by other investigators would indicate that such power struggles are not uncommon. Over time I reconsidered what I wanted, and decided to become one of the increasing number of lone wolf investigators, those who want to investigate without the drama.     
I interviewed a seasoned investigator once who told me that she felt that those who stayed in the field found it necessary to periodically examine and develop their individual goals.  Those that didn’t develop over time, she said, ended up leaving the field quickly. Personally I have found her observation enlightened.  My own journey has involved a lot of soul searching and many changed paths.  Over time I’ve decided my priority is research and writing, exploring all the topics about which I want to know more and then sharing my findings with the community.

 I got into the field because I wanted to explore the possibility of life after death, and that still remains my greatest driving force.  I started in the field as an undecided vote, and I’ve yet to find that one piece of unambiguous evidence that has convinced me to climb off the fence of skepticism yet. That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced some undeniably strange things.  But that truly profound, absolutely unambiguous piece of evidence…still fishing for that.
Paranormal Tourism – The Thrill Seeker’s Vacation

The gross majority of people that approach me about becoming an investigator are of the thrill-seeker type.  They drop me a cryptic email about doing some investigating but can’t ever seem to find the time to meet, or are far too busy to actually show up for an investigation. That’s just fine. If you really want to try your hand but don’t have the time for a commitment there is now a whole genre of tourism pandering to the paranormal enthusiast.  Haunted hotels, haunted cruise ships, haunted houses, haunted forts and battlefields, séances, EVP sessions, lecture series….  It’s all out there and you can experience it all for the price of admission.  If after an event or two you find you have an insatiable need for more there are organizations out there that have a constant need for new blood.

 Becoming an Investigator?

 For those truly serious about becoming an investigator, I’d say that knowledge is power. To prepare to be an investigator I began by reading, listening and watching anything I could find in the field. “How To” books certainly began to fill my shelves.  However, it soon became apparent that to understand the paranormal also required a sound knowledge in the sciences.  To date, I’ve studied such diverse topics as the makeup of the atom, how electricity works, electromagnetic energy, radiation, ionization, history, PSI, the science of sound, the light spectrum, psychology and spiritualism. I’ve read literature written for grief counselors dealing with separation, and literature put out by the medical profession about Near Death Experiences. I even read one rather confounding book on Quantum Physics. I’m still confused as to what an “event horizon” is, but I do now know the “event horizon” doubles at the entrance of a black hole. Aha! I never in my wildest dreams imagined that a desire to “hunt ghosts” would be such hard work.  But how many golfers can claim the same rigor of study? Granted   they do get the cute outfits and matching hats.

 I think perhaps it would have been easier to take up golf, as my husband had suggested.  Being a paranormal investigator is not conducive to becoming a socialite. Indeed lone wolf is far closer to the mark.  Being an investigator involves a lot of hours in dark rooms speaking to the walls. (I believe there are asylum residents that present with much the same behaviors.)  You learn quickly to share your experiences carefully.  Indeed there’s nothing like that look of horror or scorn that passes some people’s faces when you tell them what you do for a hobby.  I doubt golfers face the same scorn when they speak about their latest game. And they undoubtedly never hear the phrase, “there’s no such thing as golf!” Aside from abject rejection is the subtler form of reproof I often feel from friends and loved ones who quietly put up with my “strange obsessions” because they care for me. Big sigh.

And so I approach my anniversary of fives.  Five years of investigating, 50 online articles published and approaching 50,000 views on the blog. I still have no proton pack, I have no personal television show, and I have no unequivocal evidence proving the existence of life after death. But I do have a sense of accomplishment...almost as good as the perfect round of golf.

Apophenia is when our brain perceives connections or patterns where there are none.
Pareidolia is when we assign significance to otherwise random patterns, like seeing the Virgin Mary’s face on the side of a potato. 




Sunday, June 8, 2014

Djinn; A demon by Any Other Name

by Robin M. Strom-Mackey

In researching paranormal topics recently I’ve come across several rather oblique references to an ancient race called the djinn. It has been suggested by some that the djinn, or jinn, might be the beings responsible for all manner of paranormal activity from shadow people sightings to extraterrestrial encounters. But what were these beings? I found my answer in a comprehensive book entitled The Vengeful Djinn; Unveiling the Hidden Agendas of Genies, by Rosemary Guiley and Philip Imbrogno.

Truth be told, in the western world the legend of the djinn has survived only marginally.  The djinn or genie has been emasculated and marginalized, becoming the popular three-wish granting, magic lamp inhabiting, genie in the bottle. Television shows such as the now dated  I Dream of Genie and the popular Disney film Alladin have featured friendly genies who seek to help their human counterparts with superior magical skills. Indeed, for a westerner, the thought that this ancient race both existed and was dangerous seemed preposterous.  However, for those in the Middle East the belief in the djinn is quite different.    

History of the Djinn

Imbrogno and Guiley are quick to point out the Middle Eastern cultures take a very different view of this ancient race of beings.  In many households even to say the word djinn is forbidden for fear of retribution and harm.   For Muslims the djinn are closer to the western ideal of demon. The Qur’an describes the three tiers of beings as angels, djinn and humans.  Angels are at the top of the pyramid as creatures of beauty and light. Created without free will, however, they follow God’s dictates without question. Djinn, on the other hand, are willful, sentient beings created from, smokeless flame of fire,” or plasma Strict interpretation of the reference suggest they were created from the “purest fire,” or created “near the fire (Wagner, Anonymous).”  Humans, the weakest of the races, are said to be created from, “sounding clay (Ar-Rahman 55:15).”

The Qur’an explains that the ancient race once inhabited the Earth, establishing advanced civilizations.  Then God created mankind, commanding the hosts of djinn and angels to look after his newest mewling creatures.  Those of the Christian faith recall the angelic response to this dictate which ended in Satan and his fellows being cast out of heaven. 

The Qur’an speaks of a similar situation happening amongst the djinn.  In fact a powerful djinn by the name of Iblis was so infuriated at the idea that he refused to bend the knee, and suffered the same fate as the biblical Lucifer.  For his arrogance Iblis and his followers were exiled from Earth, banished to Hell until Judgment Day when they would hopefully have mended their ways.  God did grant Iblis one boon, he gave Iblis permission to tempt mankind away from the teachings of God.  Note this excerpt from the Qur’an:

…We bade the angles prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.

Allah: “What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?”

Iblis: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.”

Allah: “Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here. Get out, for thou art of the meanest. Be thou among those who have respite.

Iblis: “Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo? I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way. Then I will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left. Nor wilt thou find, in most of them gratitude.”

Allah: “Get out from this, degraced and expelled.  If any of them follow thee, Hell will I fill with you all. “ Al-A’Raf, 11-18

According to an Arabian story, after Iblis’ descent, his name was changed to Shaitan (adversary or enemy).  Notice the similarity to the Western word for devil, Satan.  Certainly the parallels between Islam and Christianity are unmistakable.   Indeed, in some earlier Islamic accounts Iblis isn’t categorized as being djinn at all, but is described as a once powerful angel named Azazel. The translation for Azazel being “God strengthens.” 

Azazel may actually have been borrowed from a Semitic god who protected shepherds and their flocks.  Indeed the notion of the djinn predates the establishment of Islam.  Ancient Persians spoke of the jainni or jaini, which were evil spirits of both genders who inhabited an invisible world, but whom were able to interact with humans.  These creatures could bestow gifts such as gold or food, or they could mete out harm, disease or death.  The Ancient Arabians worshiped god-like beings known as the ginnaye who were the purveyors of either pleasure or pain.  Among the various ancient stories note the similarities, namely the idea of a non-human, magical spirit who offered either great fortune or demise.

King Solomon, famous in both the Christian and Muslim religions, apparently possessed the ability to control the djinn to do his will – a power given Solomon by God.   With this power Solomon was able to not only call up the djinn by name, but bind them into slavery to perform his many works.  In the pseudopigraphic text, The Testament of Solomon, written between the first and third centuries CE, the djinn are described as demons and Solomon is said to have “mastered and controlled all spirits of the air, on the Earth, and under the Earth (Ibid, verse1).” 

Obviously many of the djinn were unhappy being held in captivity by Solomon, and made to do what amounted to slave labor.  Therefore Solomon is said to have imprisoned many of them in iron laced lead bottles or sealed them in captivity with lead and talismans.  Other djinn were imprisoned in magic rings with rubies or fire opals.  Notice the parallel to the traditional “genie in a bottle” story. Incidentally, lead is an ancient remedy against all types of paranormal entities.  The metal is believed to have the power to bind spirits or ward against evil.  

Characteristics of the Djinn

If we follow the description in the Quran, the djinn are flameless smoke.  In other words ethereal beings to our human clay form.  While we are all bones and sharp angles, these creatures are amorphous, thus able to fit into any crevice or container because they possess no material matter.  While in their natural state they are plasma, it appears that they can control their shape and appearance, melding it into forms appearing both solid and recognizable to humans.  Thus it has been speculated by those in the paranormal community that they may be the beings responsible for strange sightings of scaled reptilian creatures, or shadow figures and perhaps even the modern version of the humanoid-like alien - vis a vis big eyes, bald head and tiny demeanor.  It is speculated that they may take on whatever form they desire to achieve whatever ends they seek.  If they are seeking information they may choose to appear as “aliens.”  If they choose to frighten they might appear as scaled, speaking reptiles.  If they wish to deceive someone they may even appear in an angelic state, or take on the appearance of a deceased loved one.  (According to the Qur’an, however, the djinn are never allowed to appear as Allah himself.  This ability they do not possess.)  Consider the possibilities of an entity that can shape-shift at will and the ramifications are both astounding and appalling.

Where Djinn Live?

 It is written that these creatures live in remote areas to avoid interactions with humans.  According to Islamic writings, the djinn prefer to live in caves or in remote recesses of the desert. Popular belief also suggest they reside in cemeteries[RS1]  or ruins. Apparently immune to filth, some speculate that many choose to live in garbage dumps where they feed off the remainders of human garbage (Wagner).  There are also stories that place djinn communities at the bottom of the ocean. Being non-corporeal it appears that they do not require the same things to survive as human beings, such as air or possibly food. 

However, another possible explanation is that they do not reside on the Earth at all, but in another dimension that is close to ours and affords them access via portals between the two worlds.  As crazy as this may sound, in recent years Quantum Physicists have been working on several theories they propose help explain the anomalies of the universe. One of the predominant theories is String Theory which proposes that our universe is only one of many, and that alternate universes are all around us and may interact with ours when conditions are correct.  Not a scientist myself, forgive me a quick (and undoubtedly flawed) layman’s explanation of string theory.

 Physicists have speculated that it is possible that other dimensions not only exist, but exist in close proximity to our own.  The different universes are on thin, string-like constructs with all strings attached to a main structure called a brane.  I envision the cosmos as being like a giant spider web. Consider if you will the intricacy of a spider web, in which each gossamer string is a separate entity, resonating on its own plane of existence. The strings don’t touch or interact with the other strings on the web.  But consider a thunderstorm blows in, and the strings that were separate are now blown either into close proximity with one another or worse yet become stuck together in certain spots on the web.  Where the strings come in close contact may become what spiritualists and mystics have described as portals, gateways to another universe or dimension or time.   If the Qur’an passage about Iblis’s descent is considered, it may be that the djinn, having lost favor with God, were banished out of Eden (Earth) to another place (or dimension).  Considering Iblis’s anger with God and his banishment, one might suggest that the djinn seek out portals in order to enter our world with a view of eventually ousting humanity and reclaiming residency in what was their home far before it was our own.

Belief that the djinn are angling toward reclaiming their homeland is apparently the belief of many in the Middle East, people who tend to take the threat of the djinn quite seriously.  Philip Imbrogno who actually studied the djinn in Saudi Arabia, relates his experiences speaking with locals in Fins.  Imbrogno notes that he was surprised that the people he met were willing to speak with him about the subject, though they warned him repeatedly that it was dangerous to investigate the djinn. In his words, speaking of the djinn “would invite their attention. They would definitely investigate my intentions. The townspeople were convinced that the djinn were returning to our world and one day, if appropriate action was not taken, the djinn might rule human beings (Guiley, Imbrogno, 2012).”

 The Qur’an encourages trepidation in dealing with the djinn, especially those who followed Shaitan (Iblis, Satan).

It is only Shaitan that suggests to you the fear of his supporters and friends so fear them not, but fear me. If you are believers. And let not Shaitan hinder you, verily, he (Shaitan, Iblis) to you is a plain enemy. Az-Zukhruf 43.62,  Qur’an

The Qur’an indicates that evil humans are not the only inhabitants of hell, but that the real estate is also shared by the djinn who have fallen out of favor.  Imbrogno suggests that the western idea of demons, or dangerous, non-human entities may be djinn with a different name, as certainly the bible speaks of such entities under such titles as demons, wizards and spirits.

Creatures of Free Will

That is not to say that all djinn are evil.  They are not human, nor have ever been human.  With their superior powers undoubtedly they find human beings as weak and easily manipulated.  However, according to the Qur’an, the djinn were a race created with free will, as humans were, but angels were not.  This means that the djinn can form their own ideas, worship as they will, change their minds and make their own decisions.  Many of the djinn elect to follow the teachings of Allah. They may also follow other religions such as Christianity or Judaism (Wagner).  Iblis or Shaitan declined to bend the knee to the humans, but not all of the djinn followed him.  Thus not all of the djinn can be interpreted as being active enemies of the human race. 

However, they are non-human entities, which may mean that their needs and the needs of the human race may run counter to one another.  Consider the farmer with a herd of sheep, and another vying for pastureland with his herd of cows.  Cows graze on grass that is above ground, while sheep strip the grass, roots and all. They all need grass, but when the sheep are done with the pastureland there’s nothing left for the cows.  For two different creatures vying for the same land humans and the djinn may find themselves in a similar crisis for resources.

Obviously an automatic belief in genies may be hard for westerners.  However, nearly every civilization believes in some type of non-human spirit. For those in the U.S. it nearly always falls to angels or demons. In the British Isles fairies are believed to be prevalent. In Native American lore it is often the trickster who is described.  Guiley and Imbrogno in their book The Vengeful Djinn, make a painstakingly clear argument from accounts of angels, demons, fairies and djinn that all have strikingly similar characteristics.  Guiley and Imbrogno also make a strong case for a non-human entity that is both uninterested in human progress and seems to relish foiling humans whenever possible – the Trickster Spirit.

The Trickster Spirit

The Trickster spirit is an archetypal character found in many cultures.  For the Greeks, the God Hermes was a creature of deceit and lies.  For the Norse the god Loki was the god of Chaos, able to change shape and gender at will.  Native American tribes speak of the sneaky Coyote as the fire-stealing god of braggadocio.  All tales of Trickster are similar in nature. These spirits work outside the laws of order.  They infinitely enjoy chaos, especially the chaos they themselves create.  They can create and destroy with equal aplomb.  A sense of humor runs throughout; Tricksters love jokes played upon themselves and others. It doesn’t matter because inevitably Trickster has the last laugh at the expense of the victim. Tricksters love to stymy humans, playing both sides against another.  They lie without abandon, change their stories often, and shift sides of a disagreement thus foiling both sides.  They love the pleasures of the flesh especially sexual promiscuity.  They appear to have the ability to shape shift taking on different forms and even different genders.  These spirits make no distinction between good and evil, and they’re not really concerned with questions of the soul.  Mostly they love to have fun, fun found at the expense of destroying those with whom they toy.  

A similar Trickster tradition runs through descriptions of the djinn especially when interacting with humans.  Described as being more amoral than evil, the djinn can be quite dangerous when interacting with humans, using whatever tools they have to hand. Undoubtedly they feel when dealing with humans that the ends justify the means.  Being created of amorphous smoke, it is believed that they can travel at great speeds, be invisible to humans or show themselves in various guises; camels, snakes or dogs being preferred shapes.  They have inhuman powers; able to lift heavy objects with ease.   They can shape dreams by whispering temptations into the ears of the sleeper. They also possess the ability to place themselves within a dream thus controlling them. They may even masquerade as a messenger of god.  While they enjoy foiling the weak willed, they take even greater pride in destroying the righteous. 

Perhaps the most troubling, it is believed that the djinn are able to possess humans, entering the body easily as they are made from smoke. A djinn may occupy a body for a brief time in order to accomplish something, or they may attempt to take up permanent residency. Muslim religious leaders are schooled in exorcism rituals in order to oust unwanted guests.

Classes of Djinn

There are thought to be different classes of djinn, with variations within cultures.  In the Western tradition are the ghouls which are grave yard inhabiting creatures who seek to suck the blood from their victims – blood perhaps symbolic of the life force of a person.  The hinn are the weakest of the djinn, closely related to animals, and usually appearing as dogs.  These may account for the black dog sightings.

Guiley and Imbrogno classify the djinn by colors, the different colors signifying their abilities and their likely behavior. 

Obviously the youngest of the djinn have the least developed powers and exhibit the most erratic behaviors, just as adolescents in the human population often display immaturity.   The djinn advance in levels with age and increased ability, but advancement is not a given, it must be earned.  Just as a person in a profession advances from an entry level position to an advanced position in management, so do djinn.  A position at the top is not a foregone conclusion in any case, it is earned with the gathering of knowledge, the use of skills and the maturity of temperament. 

Green Djinn

Typically the young of the tribe, green djinn can still be extremely old by human standards. A green djinn that does not master the skills necessary to manipulate their powers may remain a green and not advance.  The youngsters among the djinn are usually the most interested in the human population, and are the most easily summoned.  They might also appear in a pleasing form such as a dog or lovely woman. If angered or feeling vindictive, they may appear in a hideous form to scare the caller. Summoning a djinn, especially one that does not wish to interact, is not a wise maneuver, as they can be dangerous. 

Adolescent djinn like to cause mischief and play pranks.  They do possess the ability to change shapes but this may be limited by their level of acquired knowledge or mastery of skills. 

They are characterized as being playful and friendly, but may also be vengeful and cruel.  Just as every adolescent is different, so are the young among the djinn.  They may enter our world to interact simply out of curiosity.  They can shape shift, and in a material form they can imbibe foods.  They are reportedly fond of sweet foods such as fruits and ice cream.  In human form they can also drink alcohol and smoke tobacco and may form a fondness for such things.  However, despite their fondness of things of the flesh, food does not sustain them. Djinn require energy in a purer form, that which they can only acquire from living things.

It is an Islamic belief that the green djinn often reside in holes in the ground.  Therefore they suggest you be careful of throwing trash into a hole or worse yet entering a hole.  It is believed that the djinn may hold wayward visitors, or only release them upon condition.

Blue djinn

The Marid, Nekratael, Afreet or blue djinn are the oldest and most powerful of the djinn, with power just below that of an angel.  Most are believed to be family or clan leaders, and with expanded responsibility they tend to take very little interest in the human race. Being thus powerful they are extremely dangerous.  According to the Qur’an, most of the blue djinn were ordered to leave the Earth for another realm after the conflict with Adam.  A small number of blue djinn may have escaped the extraction and may reside in hiding.  According to Persian legend, if one meets a single old man alone in the desert, one should be very wary.  It is believed that a lone traveler in the desert is a blue djinni in disguise. In rare circumstances the blue djinn can be summoned.  Seeking favors from the older of the race may be fraught with danger, as their help may turn out harming the seeker. However, the older of the djinn population isn’t as given to temperamental outbursts or flights of fancy as are the younger of the population.

Red djinn

The Red djinn are followers of Iblis and sworn enemies to the human race. Having turned their back on the word of God, they actively seek out evil. They do not follow the teachings of Islam. Most were powerful blue djinn before siding with Iblis. They are also labeled ghouls, Shaitan, Shayteen or Ifrit. Dangerous in the extreme, they are the collectors of human souls, which they use to make themselves stronger.  They are responsible for hauntings, illnesses and acts of possession, and often appear in a frightening reptilian form.  Many modern Islamic clerics believe it is the red djinn who are responsible for alien sightings and other types of frightening paranormal phenomenon.  Dealings with a red djinn can be deadly.  They are eager to answer questions and grant wishes, but the price for such services may literally be your soul.

Black djinn

Known only as the Shamir, dealings between the Black djinn and the human race are very rare.  It appears that the black djinn may be the rulers, and as such are simply too busy to deal with human beings. .  There may be several of them as the heads of clans, or there may only be one that serves as a King over the blues and green djinn.  It is written that King Solomon possessed one black djinn, who ruled the other djinn in Soloman’s army. The black djinn issued orders and meted out punishment as necessary.  

Yellow djinn

The Yellow djinn class is a mysterious group who appear to prefer isolation, both from the realm of man and other djinn. Imbrogno and Guiley admit that while they found some evidence, this was an elusive group of powerful, but busy, middle-aged, djinn. Most are family or clan leaders who have little or no interest in the world of man. Most yellows are known as Juzam, or the angrier as Efreeti.

The djinn are family oriented.  Offspring are fairly rare, but family units are believed to be tight. Families are bound into clans with clans bound into kingdoms. It is unknown whether there are several kingdoms or only one kingdom with one single ruler ruling over all but the rebels of the group. Red djinn who follow Shaitan are without the kingdom of the djinn.

A Djinn by any other Name

For many Muslims the djinn aren’t a possibility but a certainty.  They believe in the existence of these creatures that we in the west have heard very little.  However, just about every culture believes in some type of elemental spirit, a creature that is not nor has ever been human.  In the British Isles many vehemently believe in the existence of the Fey. The Native Americans were also firm believers in non-human spirits.  In our own culture is a sub group of stoic individuals that firmly believe in extra-terrestrials.  Consider also the strange stories that occasionally surface. The Mothman of West Virginia, the New Jersey Devil and Big Foot. 

Imbrogno and Guiley make painstaking comparisons between elemental spirits and the djinn and the similarities are strong.  No matter what one calls elementals they might all be of the same ilk, perhaps just another djinn in disguise.  The authors close by suggesting that paranormal investigators take heed.  What may appear as a wacky encounter too odd to categorize may simply be the pranks of this ancient and undoubtedly misunderstood race of creatures. 


Anonymous. “Djinn What Are They?” Paranormal Encounters. Retrieved June 3, 2014 from

Guiley, R.E., Imbrogno, P.J. (2012) The Vengeful Djinn; Unveiling the Hidden Agendas of Genies. Llewellen Publications. Woodbury, MN.

Imbrogno, P.J. “Who or What are the Djinn?” Retrieved June 3, 2014 from

Wagner, S. “All About the Djinn” Retrieved June 3, 2014 from