Re-Blog: Let’s Talk To The Dead… Or Not


(Originally posted 10/5/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

When the gringa was growing up in a strict Southern Baptist household, Ouija boards were banned. The gringa should feel fortunate that my mother was more lenient than her parents. My mother grew up in an even stricter religious household where a deck of cards was considered to be just as Satanic as an Ouija board. But where did the Ouija board really come from? 


Did Satan design and deliver it to mortal man? Is the Ouija board a gateway to communicate with the dead? Does one risk demonic possession or an invitation for a ghostly haunting if a bit of fun is had with this device? Probably not.


The Ouija board was first marketed in America during the 1800s. But this was just a mordernized version of an ancient Chinese trinket that dates back to 1100AD. When early Americans became curious about communicating with the dead, a rash of mysticism arose. 


Hypnotists came on the scene but it was really the spiritualists that commanded the era. And certainly in capitalist America there was a cunning entrepreneur who realized that, although lacking in acting skills and unable to pass self off as a medium or psychic, it would be easy to head to the woodshop and craft a device that assists anyone in talking with the dead.


You heard the gringa right. The Ouija board as we know it today is nothing more than a clever capitalist’s Shark Tank dream come true of the 1800s. Designed after the many cultures who practiced supernatural “automatic writing” practices, rather than being the spawn of Satan, the Ouija board is the offspring of centuries of ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Medieval Europeans.


What the heck was going on in America to have good Christians begin to dabble in the black arts? After the Civil War ravaged families, there were plenty of heartbroken, lonely people, as well as guilt-ridden people, who were desperate to connect with dead loved ones. And dead loved ones were in abundance after a war that decimated the American population.


Actors and actresses turned spiritualists groomed their acting skills and added parlor tricks to their repertoires. Ghostly tapping on walls, levitating tables, and smoky emissions were the skills of spiritualists that earned them a loyal following and steady income. Some even enjoyed a celebrity status, like the Fox sisters of New York. So, if you wanted to get on the ghost-talking gravy train express but couldn’t act your way out of a paper bag, you equipped yourself with an Ouija board and held seances.


So, are Ouija boards imbued with magical powers? Certainly. They make money disappear quick as a wink. Happy Halloween season, my dear readers!

Source: The Vintage News

Image Credit: Cornucopia 3D

Video Credit: Crypticc

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Re-Blog: Are Zombies Real?


(Originally posted 10/3/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Lovers of horror and science-fiction are most likely big fans of the Walking Dead series as well as any movie or book that is zombie-related. A visit to New Orleans will result in any number of Voodoo and zombie trinkets being purchased and brought back home. 


The first famous literary mention of zombies occurred in 1810. Robert Southey wrote of brain-eating monsters in his book History of Brazil. As the word morphed throughout the English reading world, zombies became known as once-dead humans that re-animate without intelligence or self-awareness. Their only purpose was to serve a master and survive upon human brains.


Are zombies real? Should a person have an after-death back-up plan? Should the dead be buried with emergency beacons to activate in case they inadvertently awaken? Should a trusted loved one be appointed to deliver a coup-de-grace if it turns out our brainless body recycles itself?  Before venturing into any such plans, let’s see what science has to say. Zombie believers might be surprised. The gringa certainly was.


Voodoo and santeria cultures believe that zombies are real. These religions, with origins in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, take zombies seriously. Although details vary among different sects, the basics are the same. A practitioner of experience and power can re-animate the dead and sometimes control them. The purpose of creating a zombie was sometimes considered a means of punishment for the person that died. Another purpose was enslavement. 


For the most part, the subject of zombies has not been taken seriously by outsiders of Voodoo or santeria. In the 1980s, this outsider perspective changed when western scientist, Wade Davis, discovered a substance that could turn a living human into a zombie. 


Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin found in pufferfish. The good scientist found this toxin in a powder form being used by influential religious leaders in Voodoo sects throughout Haiti. This was the inspiration behind his own book that became a film, The Serpent and the Rainbow.


More recently, however, is something even more titillating. Although Davis’ zombie explanation does not actually involve re-animated corpses, only doped-up folks who were still among the living, this new discovery does, indeed, support more traditional zombie theory. And it may challenge many of today’s most popular religious beliefs about what happens after death.


Canadian medical professionals have released the findings of a recent study of the brains of critically ill patients and what happened within the brain right after death. The gringa says, “Hold on to your hats, folks.” Ya know that straight line across the machine followed by a steady whine instead of a series of rhythmic beeps that you see in movies when a patient dies? Yeah, that’s the movies. Not exactly what really happens.


Once the heart stopped beating and any sign of a pulse ceased, the Canadian doctors continued to see activity in the brain. The cerebral organ continued to produce the same kind of brain waves that occur when you sleep. So, for as long as 10 minutes after being declared dead, the dead were, evidently, still dreaming.


Now, this didn’t happen in every single individual the doctors studied. It occurred in about 25% of those who died. And the good docs don’t have a clue how to explain this. While most of their patients, 75%, had zero brain activity before their hearts even stopped beating, this 25% defies explanation according to medicine as the doctors know it.


Even after auditing the equipment, in the hopes they could attribute it to a mechanical mistake, the doctors were still left scratching their heads. Their equipment was operating perfectly.


And the mystery is heightened when it was discovered that in the first minute after the cessation of a heart beat (official death), for the 25%, there was actually a SURGE of brain activity. The gringa supposes those individuals were experiencing something like this, “Holy cow! Check this out! I’m floating! No more pain! This is amazing! Hey! Doc! Get in here! I’m cured! I’m flying! Oh, wait! I’m dead! Am I dead? Then how am I talking to myself? Do dead people still think? Maybe I’m not dead. I could just be dreaming.”


And the gringa thinks that maybe a zombie is just the pre-cursor for a ghost. And a ghost would be the consciousness of that 25% who seem to be very confused about what they are supposed to do when their heart stops beating. So, maybe the 25% are those considered rebels, those folks who never follow the rules. Maybe they are those with unfinished business. They could just be mean people who refuse to relieve the world of the pain and grief they cause. Who knows.


And, these 25%’ers are not the only ones confused. The Canadian doctors were further confused by other activity that continued after “official” death. Not only were delta brain waves active (the dream wave), but the genes of the 25%’ers were also active, doing whatever it is that genes do. Which means, while the heart is telling the body, “It’s all over”, the genes were still going about their business making the proteins necessary to regulate bodily functions. Seems like stubbornness may not be a learned trait but “in the genes”.


And, so far, no one knows why any of this is happening. So, for at least 25% of the world’s population, zombies and ghosts might be the real deal!


Happy Halloween Season!

To view a video on this discover, click the Independent’s video link here.

Sources:

Image Credit: Top Form Fitness

Video Credit: Independent