Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review for Ghost Stories of Venice

Title---Ghost Stories of Venice: From Historic Spanish Point to Englewood
Author---Kim Cool
Published by Historic Venice Press (2002)
Amazon Purchase Information

I recently returned from a vacation to Cincinnati, Ohio. Usually when I visit another state, I like to pick up a book on that region's ghost stories. But, an impromptu stop at the Half Price Books store near our hotel resulted in the purchase of ANOTHER region's local legends---Venice, Florida. My paranormal library is already filled with titles from the Sunshine State, courtesy of my sister who always brings me home a lil' surprise from her vacations, but at $4, I couldn't just leave this book behind. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with that decision.

As the author discusses, Venice, Florida really isn't known for being haunted. The book gives a pretty good history of the town, which in the grand scheme of things, is actually quite 'new' as a modern city. Of course there is some Native American history there, and a smattering of information on early settlers and explorers, but the town itself really didn't get its start until the 20th century, when city plans were laid out as part of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. But, we students of ghost lore know that just because a place isn't 'old,' doesn't mean it cannot be haunted!

Venice suffers from the same ailment that many cities have---many people just aren't willing to discuss their ghost stories with people. But, as the author discovers, a little digging can result in other leads, culminating with a growing treasure trove of information. Within the book's 112 pages, the author manages to convince the local citizenry to share quite a number of spooky incidents from Venice and nearby locales. A few of the places featured are the Hermitage House, a residential area known as Venice Gardens, and the San Marco Hotel.

Granted, most of the ghost stories are pretty tame, and many are just personal experiences without a whole lot of substance to back them up, but they're entertaining and offer an enlightening glimpse of the unique history of Venice. For the most part, the book is pretty well written, although at times there are awkward repeats of information and the organization seems a little jumbled. However, there are some great photos, lots of interesting history, and a taste of ghost lore from a previously untapped area. If you plan on visiting this area of Florida any time soon, or simply love to read about ghost stories from different regions, this book should be a welcomed addition to your own paranormal library.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Meme: Paranormal Experts

"Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years." -Source

Every time I see this image come up, I wince a little internally. It's not that I don't get what the creator is going for--I totally understand. The paranormal field is a field with few absolutes or constants. One cannot be an expert or a professional in a field that specializes in subject matter that by very definition cannot be proven to even exist. And, as such, there can be no real governing bodies regulating and licensing paranormal investigators/ghost hunters. Aside from a few schools left that offer parapsychology degrees, one cannot obtain an accredited degree in chasing ghosts.


And that's a very big but....whether or not its intentional, this particular image represents to me personally much of what is wrong with the paranormal investigation field. We are never going to take this study beyond the fringe sciences with a mindset like this. This field will never be taken seriously until we acknowledge that 'expert' and 'professional' ARE words that are extremely applicable in this field!

The study of the paranormal is a broad subject, and even a more specific subset of that topic, such as afterlife study or afterlife communications (ie, ghost hunting), requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Researchers and investigators need to have a good working knowledge of topics such as history, photography, and of course, ALL of the sciences. These are all fields in which there ARE experts and there ARE professionals. When someone asks me about what type of field they should study in college to prepare for a 'career' in the paranormal, I always encourage them to study whatever it is they love---because just about any field you can study can be an asset to paranormal investigation. And, with a proper education, excellent experience, and being well-read, you CAN be an expert and you CAN be a professional in these areas.

Realistically, though, not everyone can be an expert in their chosen field and NO ONE can be an expert in every sub-field that makes up the paranormal investigation field. That's why its important to know how to network. For example, if you don't feel like your photography skills are up to par, find an expert in that field to examine any anomalous photos you might have. Just make sure to check out their credentials, fully. Your cousin who bought a fancy DSLR camera and takes pictures on the weekends is NOT a photography expert. He might be knowledgeable and even well read. He may even be able to help you out. But, without certain education and experience, he probably isn't an expert. Just keep that in mind before making any outrageous claims.

Taking it a step further, this image perpetuates the belief that paranormal research should never go beyond the fringe, and that I don't agree with. There is this widespread acceptance right now that anyone can investigate paranormal claims and be involved in paranormal research. I totally disagree---just cruising around the web, I see so many examples of people who absolutely have no business being in this field. These people do more harm than good to the field, spreading poor, incorrect or misleading information and partaking in investigations where they are more likely to just scare the crap out of their client than to provide any insight or answers. We don't allow just anyone to practice why should we allow just anyone to enter a private residence and try to communicate with the dead?

Well, I guess the answer is probably because what we do isn't considered a science, lol. But, within my lifetime, I'd like to see that changed. I'd like to see stricter guidelines and governing bodies in charge of paranormal investigators. I'd like to see increased educational standards and accredited places of learning. I'd like to see researchers and investigators with a healthy dose of common sense being properly trained and presenting themselves in a manner fitting a professional. Maybe then, we can finally do away with graphics like this one. We probably won't have as many paranormal researchers and investigators as we do now, but the idea of quality over quantity has always been MY mantra.  Happy Haunting!