Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM035: Spirits of the Past

It was a group of businessmen in the late 19th century who originally invented the Ouija Board. They sold them in toy shops and promising questions answered “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy.” Spiritualism was all the rage in the United States, and, while hiring a professional medium could be costly, the Ouija Board allowed ordinary people to communicate with the dead.

In this episode of Here Be Monsters, freelance producer Mickey Capper attends a modern seance, conducted by 20-somethings under an udder-like canopy in a living room in Chicago. They gather around a homemade Ouija Board to summon up spirits from the past. And they’re visited by the ghost of the seance host’s long-dead ancestors. The ghost has a striking message for her about a secret she didn’t want to share with the group.

Mickey said the following about the experience:

Even though I've always like the idea of trying to contact the dead through a community of friends, I hadn't been to a seance before. The darkness and the candles and the makeshift Ouija Board did work... at least as an icebreaker. I felt closer to everyone than I would have expected. I also learned that whether or not you believe you're contacting the spirit, there's nothing protecting you from finding things you'd rather not hear.

Of course, Ouija Boards don’t run on a dark energy, the planchette isn’t moved by the delicate hands of wispy ghosts. Instead, its movement is achieved through a well understood phenomenon called the Idiomotor Effect. Ideomotor movements are subconscious muscle movements that occur when people think they are holding entirely still. They’re heavily influence by perception and bias. And in Ouija, it can be responsible for creating stunning messages that seem to be otherworldly.

So, who was this ghost who revealed the host’s secret? It’s hard to know. But even for someone who would deny outright the existence of spirits and ghosts, it’s impossible to deny the power that belief in the paranormal holds.

Mickey Capper is a freelance radio reporter and the co-host of Tape, which is a new podcast that interviews people who make radio. It's good, it's people you've heard of...listen to it. taperadio.org

Music
The Black Spot
Serocell
Lucky Dragons

Track image from a 1915 edition of The Ogden Chronicle

HBM034: The Grandmother and The Vine Of The Dead


Ayahuasca is one of the most powerful and most illegal hallucinogens in the world. It contains DMT. But, for as long as anyone can remember, it's been used by people who have wanted to know more about the universe.

These people have traditionally been involved with shamanic tribes of the Amazon Rainforest, but in recent years, more and more people have had access to Ayahuasca through ceremonies lead by shamans in countries near the South American Equator.

Ayahuasca (also called Iowaska, Yagé, Vine of the Dead, La Madrecita, El Abuelo, etc.) is not a party drug. In fact, it can be absolutely terrifying...Ayahuasca has a reputation for spewing up the taker's darkest fears in front of visuals of multi-dimensional cosmic weirdness and forcing them to confront every dark thought they've ever had. But it also has a potential for intense healing.

In this episode, producer Lauren Stelling visits her old boss Cherub, who was facing a lot of grief after her best friend's daughter, Zippy, was killed in a freak accident of nature.

Cherub was seeking alternatives to the common American treatments for grief, so, she flew away from her home in Washington State, down to a tropical rain forest where shamans guided her on a week-long Ayahuasca journey to find healing from her grief.

The episode was produced by Lauren Stelling. She's a photographer living and working in Seattle, Washington. Check out her beautiful photographs

If you liked this show, you'll also love HBM015: Jacob Visits Saturn.  It's about MDMA therapy and feeling small. 

Big thanks to Choque Chinchay Journeys, who provided the recordings of icaros for this episode.

Music:
Serocell ←New!
Monster Rally  ←New!
Half Ghost 

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HBM030: Crickets, Cadavars, and Conventional Wisdom

This episode is a Grab-bag, it contains three segments that serve as follow-ups to the three most recent episodes of Here Be Monsters.

Part 1: Crickets on Tape

In this segment, Jeff takes apart his tape recorder and installs a knob to help him slow down the tape without using digital wizardry in attempts to de-muddy the waters after HBM029: Do Crickets Sing Hymns.  He bought some more crickets and slowed the cassette slowed down to 1/3 speed.  The results were telling, and surprising.

In that episode, we were talking about the confusion surrounding the bit of audio called God's Cricket Chorus by Jim Wilson.  In this segment we’ll clear up exactly what is known and exactly what is not about God’s Cricket Chorus and its derivative works.

Also, a correction to a mistake we made in Episode 29 about how digital audio is constructed for our ears.  In that episode we represented the final product of digital audio to be choppy, yet moving by too quick for our ears to notice its choppiness.  This is NOT the case.  In fact, digital audio is always converted back to analog before it hits our ears.  This is done with a device called a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC).  Here’s an article that explains this process very simply  (Page 4 is where the good stuff starts).  Big thanks to the two commenter s who pointed out this error.

Want to try stretching some crickets yourself?  Download this same set of cricket songs we used for the shows.

Part 2: Conventional Wisdom on the Future of the Four Humors

In HBM027: Balancing Act, Here Be Monsters producer Lina Misitzis delved into the rich history of the Four Humors, which was, for thousands of years, the way much of world understood medicine, the body and the universe as a whole.

While we never heard from Alain Touwaide in that episode, he was central to our research of traditional medicine.  He’s the director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions in Washington DC.

He spoke with Lina about the foggy past and likely future of Humorism. 

Part 3: The Resting Places of Medical Cadavers

In HBM028: Johnathan’s Cadaver Paintings, Johnathan Happ, a grad student at the University of Washington, visits one of the cadaver labs on campus.  He spends a lot of time there, studying the bodies, so that he can make paintings of them in his studio. 

While that episode has a lot of information about the cadaver labs themselves.  We never got the chance to talk about  what happens to those bodies after their 3 year rotation in the lab. 

So, in this segment, Jeff goes out to the Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in northern Seattle, where most of those bodies come to rest. 

Special thanks to two employees of Evergreen-Washelli who helped out with a lot of the background for this piece:  Sandy Matthie (Reception at Columbarium) and Brian Braathen (Funeral Home Manager)

Music:

The Black Spot ||| Half Ghost  <-- New!

 

HBM013: Bridget Finds Loss

Writer Bridget Burnquist went to vacation on the eve of her 27th birthday. She felt dead. On this episode, she tells a story from the colorful slums of Lima, Peru where she had an experience that made her alive again.

About the Track Picture: The three boys from this story. This is the only photo that Bridget loaded on to her computer before she visited the slums.

Music from: Nym ||| Lucky Dragons