Friday, March 7, 2014


Read about Mexico's fascinating cult of Santa Muerte at my new Metaphysical Traveler blog location:

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hello Friends,

I am moving my Metaphysical Traveler blog to the following location:

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Go now to the site and read my latest posting about Mexico's Day of the Dead Festiaval and learn how you can join me in Oaxaca, Mexico on my 


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Many cultures around the world believe that the spirit realm is a helpful one and that spirits are charged with helping humans in seeking wisdom, insight and guidance. These spirit guides, as they are collectively known, are described in various ways, depending upon the culture. 

Christianity speaks of guardian angels, spiritual beings that were always spirit and never human, as protectors of humans.  
  St. Michael the Archangel  is often invoked by paranormal investigators for his protection against evil spirits.  Muslims believe that each person has with him two angels, one good, one bad. These angels strive to persuade their human host to follow their inclinations for good or evil. Think of those cartoons in which an angel is depicted whispering into one ear of a person while a devil is depicted whispering sinful temptations into the person’s other ear and you will get the picture.

But not all spirit guides are angels. Spiritualists believe that we continue to grow and learn after death in an afterlife they call Summerland. Further, they believe that it is possible for those of us here on Earth to communicate with our loved ones that have passed into spirit, as Spiritualists would say. Those that are now in spirit take on the role of helping their living relatives by communicating with them through mediums.

I visited a Spiritualist medium in Cassadaga, Florida as I researched my book Ghosthunters.  As my reading progressed, the medium said that he saw two women standing behind me. He identified them as my grandmothers. The medium said that the women were there as my spirit guides. 
Anna Kachuba
He said that Anna, my paternal grandmother, was always with me because she had never known me in life but that my maternal grandmother, Francesca, popped in and out of my life, checking up on me as it were. My paternal grandmother died when my father was just a boy so I obviously never knew her. My maternal grandmother died when I was seven years old but I do have fond memories of visiting with her.

The concept of spirit guides has been around forever and, even though it may not be as defined for us as it is for Spiritualists, the popular notion that spirit guides exist is found in almost all cultures and throughout the ages. I have examined that concept in some of my writing.

In my e-book novel Shantok the spirit of Uncas, a 17th century Native American leader in New England appears to Ray Dawes, a modern-day Native American imprisoned, accused of murder. Ray is a spiritual person and does not think it unusual that Uncas appears to him several times to give Ray hope and guidance.  

In The Savage Apostle, my novel about the outbreak of King Philip’s War in New England, the spirits of the sachem Philip’s father and brother appear to him at a time when the sachem was conflicted about how to lead his people away from war. The two spirits sit and smoke a pipe with Philip and leave him with advice, as well as a warning, before departing for the Happy Lands.

Are spirit guides real? That’s a loaded question. Are spirits real? Is God real? If we accept that there is mystery in the universe, that it is not necessary for us to see, hear, or touch something in order for it to be real, then there is no reason why spirit guides cannot be real. Certainly, they are real enough for those of us that have experienced them in some way.

And many of us have experienced them. When we are tempted down a wrong path, but choose more wisely, or when we are led down that wrong path but then come to understand the error of our ways, we say our conscience has corrected the situation. Where does that conscience come from? Is it something innate in all of us, something organic to our nature, or is it something else? Might it be possible that when we hear our conscience speaking to us we are actually hearing our spirit guides coming to our aid?

I maintain a daily practice of meditation and during that time I sit quietly, listening for whatever might want to speak. Disregarding my own thoughts I try to go deeper to a place where my mind unlocks, a place where all doors open.  

   It is in that place where I have sometimes discovered a voice not my own. Her voice—for it strikes me as female—is heard inaudibly, with my mind rather than my ear, yet it sounds as real as though she were in the room with me. “Elizabeth,” as her name came to me, has given me some creative insights into my work and I continue to seek her out in meditation.

How many of you have come in contact with your spirit guides? What stories do you have to tell?

Monday, August 26, 2013


Whenever anyone lists famous American ghosthunters the names of Ed and Lorraine Warren are always at the top of the list. 
  Although Ed passed away several years ago, Lorraine is still going strong, still giving public talks about ghosts, still appearing on television and radio and lately, consulting on a movie—The Conjuring. I did see the movie and was impressed by how well the actors portraying the Warrens demonstrated the couple’s compassion for the people that sought them out.

I first met the Warrens many years ago when I was living in Monroe, Connecticut, their hometown. The old abandoned settlement of Dudleytown caught my attention and I visited the place as I was doing my research. My interest was not in the paranormal—at the time I knew nothing of Dudleytown’s alleged haunted history—but was strictly historical. However, when my photos of the place revealed what appeared to be a face peering out from one of the cellar holes, I called the Warrens.

They graciously invited me to their home and reviewed my photos. They also showed me dozens of photos they had taken at Dudleytown; they all showed anomalies of some kind. We talked at length about Dudleytown and other haunted sites in Connecticut. I didn’t know a lot about ghosts and ghosthunting before that time, but the Warrens gave me an earful that evening and the interest has stayed with me.

I wrote about that first meeting with the Warrens in my book, Ghosthunters: On the Trail of Mediums,Dowsers, Spirit Seekers and Other Investigators of America’s Paranormal World.  
That chapter also contains a story about my much later visit to the Warrens after Ed had suffered his debilitating stroke. In between those two visits, Ed kindly wrote the Afterword in my book, GhosthuntingOhio. Only a few months after that visit to their home, Ed passed away.

What I remember most about the Warrens was the compassion the couple showed toward me, somebody they didn’t know, some guy that just called them on the phone. Clearly, they considered their work to be important in both a physical and spiritual sense and they welcomed with open arms and open hearts anyone that showed the same serious interest in the paranormal. I try to be the same way and feel that I am paying them back whenever I help a novice ghosthunter.

That initial meeting also left me with the germ of an idea that took root years later as a novella titled DarkEntry. Available as an electronic book on, the book is an imaginative journey into the haunted legends about Dudleytown. 

Fact and fiction come together to weave what I hope you will agree is a terrifying paranormal tale. Read it with the lights on.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I have always been a Johnny Depp fan so it was a foregone conclusion that I would see him in the role of Tonto in The Lone Ranger movie. Unfortunately, the movie was a flop and Depp did not play the role of a disturbed Native American loner as much as he played the role of Johnny Depp in war-paint. But Tonto’s assertion that he was the last of the Comanche wendigo hunters interested me and I thought a discussion about wendigos would be timely for this blog.

The wendigo (spellings vary among Native American peoples) is a demonic spirit that appears in the traditions of Algonquin peoples along the Atlantic coast and in the northern US and Canada. Associated with winter, the North, coldness—as well as famine and starvation—the wendigo is a malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural being with great spiritual power.

Basil Johnston, an Ojibwe teacher and scholar describes the wendigo:

The Weendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Weendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody [....] Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Weendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.
It was believed that a person could be turned into a wendigo if he engaged in cannibalism, as in a time of famine. A person could also be possessed by a wendigo appearing in his dreams. In some cultures, wendigos were depicted as giants.  

The wendigo had an insatiable appetite for human flesh and so came to epitomize gluttony, greed, and excess. Some wendigo stories say that the wendigo would grow in proportion to the human body it had just eaten, so that it could never be sated.

Wendigo Psychosis

There is an interesting—but rare—psychological phenomena that supposedly occurred among Algonquin peoples in which the sufferer believed he had become a wendigo (I say “supposedly” because there is much debate over whether or not the condition actually existed.). These people may have consumed human flesh at some point, perhaps in famine, and so, developed an insatiable appetite for it, thus becoming wendigos.

In The Lone Ranger movie, Tonto believes that the outlaw Butch Cavendish is a wendigo and there is a scene in the film in which Cavendish cuts out an unrecognizable organ from the body of Ranger Dan Reid and apparently eats it. Algonquin peoples would affirm that such a barbaric act would turn Cavendish into a wendigo.

Whether or no wendigo psychosis, as it is called, is real or not there have been cases of human behavior that mimic the wendigo.

One of the more famous cases of wendigo psychosis involved a Plains Cree trapper from Alberta named Swift Runner. During the winter of 1878, Swift Runner and his family were starving, and his eldest son died. Twenty-five miles away from emergency food supplies at a Hudson's Bay Company post, Swift Runner butchered and ate his wife and five remaining children. Given that he resorted to cannibalism so near to food supplies and that he killed and consumed the remains of all those present, it was revealed that Swift Runner's was not a case of pure cannibalism as a last resort to avoid starvation, but rather of a man suffering from wendigo psychosis. He eventually confessed and was executed by authorities at  Fort Saskatchewan.

Another well-known case involving wendigo psychosis was that of Jack Fiddler, an  Oji-Cree chief and  shaman known for his powers in defeating Wendigos. In some cases this entailed euthanizing (some might say, murdering) people suffering from wendigo psychosis; as a result, in 1907, Fiddler and his brother Joseph were arrested by the Canadian authorities for murder. Jack committed suicide, but Joseph was tried and sentenced to life in prison. He was ultimately granted a pardon, but died three days later in jail before receiving the news of this pardon.

Wendigo legends persist today and the wendigo can be found in many modern horror stories and films. If the legends live on, one must wonder if somewhere in the vast, trackless North the wendigo itself lives on, forever hunting human flesh.