Monday, January 8, 2018

The Star


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2tLM7Oj9O0

The boy in this commercial. This was me. I used to cut pictures out of catalogs and sales ads and put them on the fridge. I would illustrate who had the best price on a particular vehicle or playset and sometimes even add the address of a department or toy store. My mom would later admit how convenient this was for her, but I don’t know how her and my father kept up with all of the wants from me and my little sister.

I was obsessed with Star Wars, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, He-Man, M.A.S.K., LazerTag - every year it was something different. We didn’t have a lot to start with, from humble beginnings in South Dakota. We didn’t live in the perfect suburban neighborhoods featured in favored movies like E.T. or Poltergeist. We spent a memorable chunk of our childhoods in a small 2-bedroom apartment next to a busy highway. We had to use our imagination.

We still had more than our relatives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, so every Christmas we would make popcorn balls and other treats we would send back to them. We knew to appreciate and value everything we acquired. Regardless, it still stung to see how the other families we went to school with lived, to see children arriving on shiny new bikes, to hear about their excursions to ski resorts and annual winter train rides. The commercials and catalogs released during this time of year didn’t make it any easier, always making it glaringly obvious that there was a lot we didn’t have.

Still, my mom and dad did what they could to make every Christmas special. She was the manager of our complex and toiled cleaning apartments and keeping up with maintenance. My dad worked long hours at Zimmerman Metal. They were workhorses, which required me to be a latchkey kid. I was the last person to leave our apartment and the first one to come home. It made it very difficult for her to hide presents from me. It also made my responsibilities greater than most children.

Once while crossing the street on my way home from school, I was hit by a car. It was a hit and run. Someone had moved me off the road and onto a nearby lawn. When I came to, it took three policemen to hold me down. I was frantic at the thought of not getting home in time to do my chores and homework before my mother got home from work. Kids were disciplined differently in those days. My mother was very strict. I had suffered a severe concussion and was kept out of school for a time. When I was supposed to return, I was so afraid of having to cross the street again that I only pretended to go to school. Being a latchkey kid, no one was there to know when I left or returned.

After a week, one of my teachers finally phoned my parents to ask when I would be returning. It was hard to go back, to cross the street alone, so afraid of an errant vehicle flying out of nowhere or the big dogs that ran loose throughout the neighborhood. There was also a concern that I may have suffered memory loss. My father would wake me up in the middle of the night every night for several nights and ask me questions to gauge my memory. There were a lot of fears I harbored back then, fears which my parents worked to balance out with wonder every Christmas.

Across the highway was a drive-in. Every holiday season, they turned on a big star which was hoisted atop the screen. As children, we didn’t know where this star came from each December. It just appeared. My father told us it was the star of Bethlehem. We were Presbyterians and my mother was a deacon of the church. We went to Sunday school regularly, as well as bible camps and classes. One night when the star was shining bright across the highway, I asked my dad what the star of Bethlehem really was. I was expecting a generic answer related to religion, but he surprised me by informing me that some people thought that what they were seeing back then was actually a supernova. He thus took a miracle and grounded it in accepted science, making it more believable.

This was something he would do often in my early years. All of the unexplained was not impossible, it just took science awhile to catch up to it. I was fascinated by the Loch Ness Monster back then. Even this, my father said, had some probability of being a reality. He told me about the coelacanth, a species of fish thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago until it was rediscovered in the 1930’s. We would watch Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of and I would shiver with fascination at the thought of all of the unknown happening in our world, bizarre and frightening and tantalizing at the same time.

When I asked about Santa Claus, he told me that Santa stood for “saint”. Saint Nicholas was but one of many. There were many saints throughout history who were reported to have performed miracles all over the world. I heard about them frequently in Sunday school. A mysterious collective of individuals restoring light and hope to the world. Who were these people really? I thought of a popular 80’s show I watched regularly called Misfits Of Science, about a group of teens with psychokinesis and other “super-human” abilities. They drove around in an ice cream truck fighting crime. I wanted to be one of them, part of a mysterious collective of individuals restoring light and hope to the world.

Late one Christmas Eve, we were listening to the radio. It was a tradition at this time of year for local radio stations to broadcast updates from NORAD, who were tracking Santa’s flight across the globe. It was thrilling. We had no fireplace, but were told Santa didn’t need one. We left milk and cookies out for him anyway. Across the snowy highway I could see our own Star of Bethlehem gleaming in the frigid air. I had highlighted all of the things I wanted Santa to bring me from a Sears catalog and could only hope for the best.

A Christmas episode of the Pac-Man animated television series played in the background, but our attention was centered on the mysterious happenings going on above us. There was someone on the roof. My mom asked me to open the window a crack so we could hear better. I still remember the icy blast of wind and snow on my face as I forced the window upward and my curiosity was rewarded with the sound of bells. Sleigh bells above us, jingling over the rooftop. Santa was preparing to land and we weren’t in bed! Scant moments later I remember lying under my covers in extreme anticipation and panic. A sacred, ancient man who performed real-life miracles was actually going to be standing in our living room! I wanted so much to meet him, to ask how his powers worked, to inquire how I might train to join his band of those aligned with light and good will.

I heard the front door open and close, punctuated by the sound of more bells. I shot out of bed as silently as I could and crept down the hallway with the stealth I had observed from so many James Bond movies. As I peeked around the corner to the living room, all I saw were my parents. My dad, shivering, was handing the roof keys back to my mom, while she was handing him some hot coffee. He held a belt from a Santa costume ringed with bells, which he gently hid behind some records at the back of one of our cabinets. They both looked tired. My mom had blisters on her hands from shoveling snow, but she went right on wrapping me and my sister’s gifts with amazing efficiency while my dad simply sat back, absently looking at the ceiling.

Funny how I don’t remember being crushed by this realization. My parents worked so hard. They were always napping after work, always sleeping on their days off, the ghostly blue light of the television set flickering across their still forms as they restored their strength for another busy work week. I wanted to walk right into the living room and tell my mom she didn’t need to finish wrapping my Tie-Fighter, I had already seen it in the back of her closet last week, but they did so much to make this time of the year special. I would keep this secret for them and let my sister continue believing that there was deep magic happening all around us. And yet even though I already knew that presents were store-bought and the only Santas I’d ever see were strangers in shopping malls and Christmas plays, I still held onto the belief that magic was a very real force in our world.

I would also shovel snow for my mother, from a very early age. One of her favorite images of me is having fallen asleep at the dinner table several times, exhausted from shoveling porches, courtyards and granite steps. Too tired to eat, but made to sit at the dinner table anyway as my sister hid her food under her plate and my dad recounted the most recent company layoffs. Shoveling snow alone helped me connect with nature. Everything was so incredibly still after a good snow, like every living thing was having a moment of quiet reverence for such natural beauty.

I knew to come home as the sun began to set, turning sparkling soft carpets of snow and their blank white canvases into shimmering fields of pink and orange. I always felt so observed gazing into these fantastic sunsets, working alone as I crunched and slid through the infamous blizzards of the 80’s. There was a feeling of something I simply described to myself as “God”, a protective force I couldn’t see but could feel guiding my heart, helping me to find hope in moments of despair. I was connected to it, whatever it was was a part of the fabric of my being. It was cosmic in the way the stars twinkled over Christmas skies but was also in the architecture of the smallest snowflake.

It was something I felt every holiday when I observed people being nicer to each other, the way total strangers rallied around to help push people’s cars out of snowy ditches and the smiles they shared amongst each other. It was giving people the right of way and helping those less fortunate. It created such a balance this one time every year when everyone knew it was their duty to come forth and help those in need. We all seemed to be a part of this collective of individuals restoring light and hope to the world.

My father crossed into the next realm last year, and this month I find myself desperately scanning the horizon for that star, that remnant of a sun which exploded billions of years ago. It does seem like eons of time have passed, and yet I know what the magic of that time felt like. It is a force I have continued to look for throughout my entire adult life. The circle has been completed. I have become a workhorse. On my days off I sleep all I can and sometimes find myself absently staring at the ceiling, though I finally live in one of those cool neighborhoods I used to dream about in a home built in 1981. And all those things that “Santa” tried so hard to bring me but couldn’t on his blue-collar salary were eventually purchased on eBay and sit in lighted displays about my home. Part of my passion is showing others the miracles and wonders of our time, mysteries I have been present for, just like the ones which inspired me while watching In Search Of with my dad.

I keep looking for that star, but it burned out a billion years ago. There is only an echo of its light. Sometimes when I open my front door to an icy blast of wind and snow I think I am hearing the tail end of some rhythmic melody created by a strand of long-lost bells. Perhaps because I was thrown into a childhood of responsibility, crushing awareness and early adulthood, I am enjoying my childhood now. I can attend conventions where I’m able to meet the voice actors who brought life to my favorite characters from television and cosplay as my favorite heroes. I can still play Dungeons & Dragons and laser tag and amass “vintage collectibles” without anyone batting an eye. I have kept the “puer eternis”, the eternal child, alive within me. When I see the mountains above my suburbia glorious in brushstrokes of pink and orange, I am blessed with the tearful moments of wonder my parents always wished for me.

A deer has come to see me nightly, gently crunching in the snow to accept apple halves from my palm. A stag, it has the same curious, fearful and still eyes I did when I used to look across the highway at a star, which regardless of its origin, served to represent the deep magic that endures in this world.

“Did you know, Christopher, that the same thing that is found in a star is inside our bodies? A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we came here from galactic winds...”

I still go to bed pondering that thought when neighborhood wind chimes are caressed by invisible but real forces and the sound of bells echo outside my window.

Merry Christmas to all and good will toward men.

- Christopher Allen Brewer, December 2017


Monday, May 8, 2017

The Haunted Mansion


It was such a warm day. Spring pretending to be summer. Not a cloud in the sky. I got the message about the traveling carnival late and we arrived right at dusk. There's such a surrealistic dream quality to these things. They are one of my favorite expressions of Americana. Dusty, dangerous, exciting, sexy, obnoxious, depressing. The smells only add to the enticement - cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cakes, soda - mixed with pavement and gasoline - all prostituting themselves about my nose.

I'm always reminded of Something Wicked This Way Comes' Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show. Will the carousel spin me backwards to a time when I can start earlier with the knowledge and confidence I possess now? Perhaps if I sneak in after closing. But I know I will not. And then the Haunted Mansion ride, the one I always look for, beckons me with its midnight movie horror show paintings. I still feel the temptation to cross my fingers.

I used to watch the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon in the 80's, where a group of children are transported into a fantasy realm through a spooky cart ride. I realize that every time I hop into a cart at one of these traveling carnivals, some part of me is still expecting, still hoping to be transported. Maybe this time? I am thrust and whirled into the dark, while up ahead someone screams in terror. A promising start, but then half of the things that are supposed to pop out, jump down or reach out for you malfunction, and the ride is over just when I was starting to hope. Nothing happened. I smile off my disappointment as I step off the ride. Well, maybe next time.

The Cliff Hanger promises the gift of flight. I also watched The Boy Who Could Fly on HBO too many times in the 80's, so I approach. You lie on your stomach with your arms outstretched. It spins you up into the sunset light, the first stars appearing as the carnival lights glow brighter. Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning. If I close my eyes, I don't see the machine. I feel like I'm really flying.

I guess this is close enough for now. Summer is coming, that big gateway where dusk can go on forever and you can play outside until those first stars come out with no one calling you home. I'll go to bed dreaming of this. The mind doesn't know the difference between what we see and what we dream. It knows I can fly because we have before. It knows about that Neverland place because it has allowed me access to it before.

I have seen the entrance to Eldorado and when I woke up I still had gold light all over my chest. It was just the sun slanting over the mountains at the end of an Indian summer, but It seemed so real. I looked at the hand I had been holding gold powder in, ablaze with light. I couldn't bring it out of the dream state. I spent a lot of time as a kid studying the quality of this sunset light and thinking about portals between places. That time just before evening begins to whisper, when the last of the days magic sighs through tangerine quartz light.

Nature knows deep magic because it has seen it before. It knows the workings of miraculous events because it has seen them happen throughout history, illuminating the faces of all hopeful souls. Right now that light represents a golden ridge between childhood and adulthood where we still cling to the fantastic, knowing as we round the bend that it's either about sacrificing our faith, or our innocence. I vow never to lose both, despite the improbable.

But I still look. I climb up the metal stairs and defiantly hand four more tickets to the ride operator. I sit in an empty black cart and wait for the doors to swing open to screams and flashing lights and anything else my mind cares to fill in the blanks while I am propelled through darkness. I have to ride it just one more time for good measure. As I round the bend I am exhilarated. And I am happy that no one can see me crossing my fingers in the dark.

Christopher Allen Brewer, May 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

For Entertainment Purposes Only

April 27th, 2017


Woke up at dead time. Still dark as I got ready and drove to the airport with James. Yanked out of my dream state so suddenly, with so little sleep, it felt like I was still dreaming as we turned onto the highway. At the airport, walking down the jet bridge to my plane, I simply let this surrealism overtake me. I was consumed by shadow, half-light and uncertainty - just like a dream....


Walking into an empty, quiet and dark hotel room in a city I've never been to before. Stepping into the room is like stepping into a conversation that suddenly stops. I can almost hear the echo. I think about stone tape theory. I think about ghosts. Sometimes a ghost can be no more than a sigh, a peculiar melancholy at the way the windowpane holds the afternoon light. It can be the leavings of a woman whose lover never met her, perfume, kohl and stockings gone to waste. No one had died here, but someone had cried here. Recorded for prosperity. Pulling back the cobwebs of time, I can almost see her. She arrived alone, like me, she left alone, as will I. Is that what unlocks her time capsule? A shared emotion, in a quiet moment, staring out at buildings, chest heaving, cataloging the disappointments and unfulfilled cravings of the day...


Wake up at 3 in the morning. Take flight from Colorado Springs to Chicago at 7:13. Write several pages worth of script during bumpy flight and attempt to memorize each paragraph. Arrive at the labyrynthian O'Hare by 9:30. I try to hail a taxi. I am told I am on the wrong level. Half an hour later I find one.

Taxi to downtown hotel takes 45min. The driver is quiet and aggressive. I have no seatbelt. I am hurled through damp city streets in a haze of fear. At the hotel I feel several eyes on me, which sets the theme of vulnerability for the day. Why did I put blue dye in my hair again?

My room feels occupied, emotional layers of dust coating everything. No chance for any more memorization of lines. Time for a minuscule meal and some quick photos before filming at noon. My timeline is different from that of the writer. I will have to readjust. All those turbulent paragraphs for nothing. I remind myself that I come from a race of storytellers. I must honor the story.

I am sat in a chair surrounded by lights, cameras and microphones in a dark conference room. I am instructed to look into the camera before me and never deviate from that lens. I must genuinely and casually make a connection with the disembodied voice of the director off camera. I mustn't act, which I find difficult, I must instead emulate.

They craft shadow and light using my face as a canvas, while I take turns appearing concerned, afraid, bewildered, confused - everything I've already been feeling up to that point. Cameras move toward me and around me, bulky black predators outside my field of vision, and the one in front of me, digesting all of my words, expressions and movements.

I am complimented and encouraged, but as usual what I had in mind and what ends up on film will be completely different. I think of my 44th Birthday only two days ago and am grateful for the makeup girl hovering about. Will I be believable? I'm sure my story won't be, as this show is paranormal in nature, but I stay on track with my memory of the events.

Forwards and backwards I am tossed through my recollections of the Halloween night in question. Nothing is linear. The director asks me to close my eyes and remember what I was feeling. That is the only constant. It is hard making a connection with the camera, to pretend I am speaking with a real person. I see only blackness, my eyes feel unfocused. I don't see a lens, just some foggy glare from one of the lights beside me.

Afterward, closeups, stills, and my narration are recorded. Everyone seems satisfied and happy. I wish I could have felt more relaxed. I remember when filming "My Ghost Story" in 2015 with James, they served cocktails beforehand, although we politely declined after one of the "actors" become too intoxicated to film. I asked only for water here. I want to channel everything into my story, but I kept tripping over the delivery, over all of those impactful words I forced myself to learn while speeding through states, speeding through the air. Regardless, the camera is done with me and I feel completely consumed.

It has been nearly three hours and I am released. I head back to my room, phone James and head back to the pretentious, expensive hotel restaurant. I nibble at a couple of unpronounceable appetizers alone and flip through pages on my phone while patrons laugh and toast nearby. I treat myself to a victory cocktail, which I will regret later.


Rush hour is approaching. I have an hour to return to the airport. I say goodbye to my room and my hotel, grateful to walk among ghosts so willing to whisper their stories down the empty hallways and stairwells. My cabbie is much more personable than the last. I have a TV in the backseat. This does little to distract from the fact that my driver proves to be the most road-raging speed demon I have ever encountered.

We rush past people, windswept and angular, expertly bracing the wind and the roar and the activity of their environment. After half an hour I begin to feel sick. I look around the cab for a sack. Anxiety sits in and I can only hold on for dear life.

Eventually I am deposited at O'Hare. Both cab rides came to the same total. $47.25, before gratuity. I immediately find a restroom so I can be sick. It does not happen. I have so little food in my stomach. I find a kiosk where I can purchase some Pepto Bismol, a Chicago shot glass for James, and a magnet for me. That's all the mementos I care to have from this experience in my state of nausea.

I fly out just after 7:pm. I was looking forward to enjoying a relaxing trip back, but I am uncomfortable, ill and exhausted. This is basically a flying Greyhound bus. There are no soft edges. It hurts to bump into anything and just like the first flight, I am crammed right next to another passenger. I try to focus on my iPad but my eyes keep closing. I cannot sleep.

After over two hours we finally land in Colorado Springs. I have been up since three, somersaulted back and forth across several states and states of being. Fortunately, within minutes the great light at the end of the terminal tunnel awaits me, as I find James standing around a corner waiting to hug me. I will never know a greater brother.

James drives me home as I recount the day to him. I only have a very small appetite so I have him pull into a Taco Bell. It is nearly 10 in the evening when I finally return home, just as dark as when I left. I have to film parts of a music video tomorrow. I have only one day. I need to eat, sleep and dream download all of this memory. There is nothing left of me.

I realize I forgot to ask when this program will air. I groan at the thought of how I will appear. Tomorrow there is a traveling carnival arriving nearby. It's near one of the comic shops I got a birthday gift certificate for. I fall asleep thinking about panels of graphic stories, action figures and carnival rides. Smells of cotton candy and soda spilled on pavement.

I am looking forward to and hoping for a haunted mansion ride. That rickety little cart that whirls you through dark corridors, screams and sinister laughs while spiders, bodies and ghouls pop out around every corner. It's cheap entertainment. Like the story I just filmed. For entertainment purposes only. I took it very seriously, perhaps too seriously, for a scant 15 minutes, which might only result in hundreds of rolled eyes and angry emoticons.

I didn't make money off of it, and I've appeared on television several times previously, so it did little to salivate any ego. It's simply something that fell in my lap. My body and mind have traveled through time, through story and zones. I don't know what time it feels like. I don't know what to feel after this experience other than gratitude. Even if it's only the gratitude of being far away from from home and getting to come back again.

When this episode airs, I understand it may be like pulling into that carnival. All the exciting promises of neon wonders and enchantments but no haunted mansion ride to be found. Just a carnival game where you attempt to knock over a pyramid of bottles with a bean bag. Did I hit my mark? Will I make a mark? Or stepping into a comic shop to spend a birthday gift certificate and they're out of everything you were hoping for. You leave grateful for the gift, but disappointed. I guess that's television for you. That's the disclaimer.


For entertainment purposes only.


- Christopher Allen Brewer, April 2017

Friday, December 16, 2016

NO WORD FOR GOODBYE




In numerology, 2+0+1+6= 9. This has been a 9 year, a time of endings, completion, closing doors. We are to tie up loose ends, forgive, release dead weight and release the past in order to accommodate new beginnings. We saw the ending of a presidential term. We lost faith. We lost several wonderful minds and performers this year. I lost my father, my grandfather, and a man I considered a brother. I have seen many endings in the way friends and family have left jobs, relationships, homes. I walked away from a friendship of 26 years. It was necessary. It was time.

2016 also marked 10 years in the paranormal field for James and I, collectively known since 2006 as The SpiritChasers. This year their journey ends. In the latest ( sixth ) season of American Horror Story ( AHS: Roanoke ), the final episode ( Chapter 10 ) featured a fictional program starring a paranormal investigation team known as Spirit Chasers. This mockumentary-style episode captured to perfection the sort of typecasting common with ghost hunters today. There was an overreliance on technology / tools, a bromance between aggressive male team members, an eclectic, plucky medium, and a general fear-based attitude and scenario. The show was peppered with a lot of running, screaming and "WHAT WAS THAT?!"

Granted, it was entirely fictional, but could have successfully passed for any ghost hunting show on television today. Watching it caused some degree of embarrassment, although we have never run down hallways screaming ( which actually looks like fun ). It was simply a fitting commentary on the state of paranormal television and paranormal teams at present. If this is what we've been reduced to, we no longer find it appealing. AHS is simply another show, though we'd hate for others to think this is where we took the inspiration for our name, a mockery of a mockery, however avant-garde that might seem.

Originally James and I called ourselves The Othersiders, until Cartoon Network premiered their own paranormal reality series with the same name. By that time hordes of ghost hunting teams had popped up, many of them using abbreviated, scientific-sounding names or simply just any name with the word "paranormal" attached to it. I remember once meeting someone from S.I.O.U.X. Paranormal ( now defunct - many of these D.I.Y. teams lacked longevity ). As an Ogala Sioux, I asked what her group was all about. She explained the meaning behind the abbreviation, which was almost comical. I don't remember what the "X" stood for. It wasn't "X-file", but might just as well have stood for "Xanadu". We stuck with The SpiritChasers, mostly because the name was not in use anywhere else. Now there are several different chapters of the Spirit Chasers all throughout the world, none affiliated with us. Our name was never taken very seriously, and who's to say the next one will, but as so many things have burned this year, we are symbolically offering The SpiritChasers to Pele.




I've never felt comfortable having to use the term paranormal. Supernatural I didn't mind, because that was a term I grew up with, but paranormal evolved into something else. It became a circus, a group of muscle shirts, vanity projects filmed with FLIR, duck-lipped night-vision selfies. I've hated describing our collection of spirit photography, footage and audio recordings as "evidence". Evidence of the presence of spirit in our lives, perhaps, though it suggests we had something to prove. All along we have done what we have for our own personal enjoyment. When I moved in with James, he lived down the street from a park where a tragic 737 plane crash had occurred. We had visited several times and took many photos before sharing our experience with anyone. We didn't do it to be on TV, to make money off tours, to gain any sort of notoriety. We did it because we found it entirely stimulating, coming alive in a way we hadn't since the Halloweens of our youth.

We are children of the 80's. We grew up watching Poltergeist and Ghostbusters, In Search Of, Unsolved Mysteries and Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World. We became fully alive every Halloween, reading ghost stories and experiencing all manner of the supernatural in our homes. We read about Ed and Lorraine Warren, Hans Holzer and other legendary figures, aspiring to be just like them when we grew up. I remember the first time we saw a spirit photo of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, and the ghost of the Tulip Staircase. I sat transfixed on both occasions, knowing immediately that when I was old enough and financially able, I would dedicate my life to chasing these spirits, unravelling urban legends and myths. I would become a hunter, like my uncle.

For some time now, we have been thinking about something more conceptual than the standard model of ghost hunter, something which could evolve. When my father passed away on Day Of The Dead, I realized that something I used to celebrate now became something I would mourn. My grandfather, who gave me my Indian name, crossed over just one month later. My thoughts about the afterlife would thus evolve. We would evolve. The night before my dad's funeral, I sat with my uncle, who lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was to do the Native part of the service as he still spoke the original Sioux dialect. We talked for a long time. I learned a lot of new words and heard a lot of old stories. We eventually spoke about the paranormal, the supernatural, which for the Lakota wasn't anything extraordinary as we believe we coexist with many different life forms, both seen and unseen. I shared with him a number of pictures from our SpiritChasers photo gallery. While he enjoyed them, he seemed mildly amused. He and his family witnessed many strange things on sacred ground over the years. Regardless, he believed in only two kinds of spirits, those who walked the Milky Way back home and found peace, and those who returned for a special mission. You did not interfere with them. Sasquatches had been seen at sundances, miraculous abilities were witnessed by medicine men, there was actually a Sioux word for aliens, or "the ones who live up there", and even petroglyphs there told stories about humanity's relationship with the interdimensional.




I met Travis Walton this past summer, the abductee from whom the movie Fire In The Sky was based, who instructed me not to adhere to the perception of the world of those who do not believe in it, do not truly see or understand it. They will strive only to define the one little corner they can. No amount of "evidence" will ever satisfy them. They will always seek to prove how it didn't happen first, shooting down the miraculous before it ever has a chance to spread its wings. But also, when meeting with the Great Mystery, we shouldn't ask it to prove itself to us. Instead, we must prove we are already aware. Prove we can walk with one foot in both worlds, balancing the spirits of both. An offering of faith is necessary. Expect the miraculous and the miraculous will occur.




Every year I have a thought that it might be our last in the field. After 10 years as paranormal investigators, we have seen a myriad of both wonderful highs and stagnant lows. In 10 years, one can come across a tremendous amount of territorialism and competition, ego and insecurity. This year, we caught two different paranormal teams using our photos as their own. One of them even tried spinning a tour out of it. And yet all over Facebook, said teams are promoting "paraunity". Fortunately, however, one can make some very dear friends, and find a better appreciation for community. We have met several more wonderful souls than we have met divas, and for that we are grateful. We have been able to participate in many supernaturally stimulating events with many fantastic colleagues and we wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.

In the paranormal field, there can often be a tendency to simply copy what one sees on television. As they will apply science, so will we, though oftentimes we will place science before imagination. So many of us are so much more supportive now of what we don't believe in than what we do. Debunking, for instance, was applied to narrow down the possible causes of paranormal claims. Some might debunk to offer a rational voice. Some might do it simply to take a mystical experience away from another. And in our field there are so many so determined to puncture, to disprove, to remove, to sanitize. One local ghost hunter was once heard to say that he could debunk anyone's photos ( especially ours ), and if he couldn't, he knew someone who could. So what was the point? Is ghost hunting not at its base the study of energetics? Energy, frequency, vibration - a cosmic template. After viewing a random paranormal show ( in horror ), my uncle asked if people had completely forgotten their cosmic nature, regardless of what the physical world said was or wasn't possible. Exposed to the concept of a spirit world from as early as we could remember, we were often reminded that mystical law is the governing authority of our world. People want miracles, and there are miracles happening every day, but too many are hell bent on explaining how something could not happen or did happen according to them than how it could.

Once, during a paranormal convention, a woman was sharing her collection of paranormal photography. She was very proud of her work and passionate about the field. After looking through a few of the photos which featured what she described as "divine fire", I quickly noticed that strands of her hair had simply blown in front of the camera lens and were illuminated by the flash. My cousin was with me and we were perfectly able to duplicate this. Did we immediately run up to her and burn her livelihood to a cinder? We did not, we remained polite and kept silent, but there were some "paraunity" enthusiasts who were nearly heckling her, taking it upon themselves to debunk her work in front of others. Later, during their own event, they were showing guests what the paranormal was NOT. This reduced the woman to tears, and she left the convention early. She no longer takes photos and never attended another convention afterward. That is why we don't take anything away from anyone. It's their experience, their lens, their perception. It's not our business to sanitize it for them. We stand by all of our photos, regardless of what others might think. Paraunity is about respect, and we have always been respectful of our colleagues' work.

When we are energetically invested in a tribe, we will therefore embrace only those ideas that they do, will defend who they defend, will learn as slowly as it takes the entire tribe to learn and grasp new concepts. If that tribe is paranormal TV, we can assume that every scripted episode on a major network will be done so for increased viewership, the sale of product and entertainment value. What and who is really moving everything forward? Despite advancements in technology, ghost hunting tools can end up becoming little more than Victorian novelties. We have paid for several "ghost hunts" that consisted of no more than sitting in a dark room while our hosts set flashlights about and put a Spirit Box in the center. We'd have to sit through an endless series of questions, watching little lights blink on and off, listening to badly distorted audio. "I heard, cure thee." "No, I heard Shirley!" Far from the ghost hunts we used to fantasize about, we were expected to be content watching blinking lights and things bobbing up and down while listening to AM radio. It says a lot about this day and age, where people - seated people - feel they are experiencing life through Facebook, their phone, or bingewatching Netflix.

"Those who do not move, do not notice their chains." - Rose Luxemburg

Such "ghost hunts" can be a very lazy and irresponsible way of taking advantage of another's wonder. We have reached another golden age of spirituality and awareness, one which is being completely wasted.



Because we grew up reading ghost stories and because we came from a race of storytellers, we wanted to remain in that realm. The first time I saw footage of Bigfoot, pictures of the Loch Ness Monster, ancient artistry depicting lost, ancient technology, I didn't have anyone standing over my shoulder telling me it wasn't true, that it was just dust and insects, swamp gas, the planet Venus, or a camera strap. The more we experienced a part of the divine in our adult lives, the more we saw it necessary to preserve mystery, wonder and myth. Those elements were crucial to the alchemy of our childhood and where our imagination could lead us. When I was a boy I made treasure maps so my friends and I could play Goonies. Imagine our elation when one day we actually dug up an antique. Imagination and hope had led us there. My first official ghost hunt occurred when I was 12. I had only a Polaroid camera and a ghettoblaster. I took notes, interviews, and sprinkled flour around the area where the table and chairs were reported to move. From this I got my first EVP of a grandfather clock the occupants didn't own. I was already aware of fault lines and how subtle vibrations could move things about. Regardless, I gave the unknown a wide berth and I expected the unexpected.
I often wish I could go back to that time, when Halloweens were almost palpably magic, when every popular television show had to have their own "haunted" episode, from Charlie's Angels to The Bionic Woman, from The Incredible Hulk to The Greatest American Hero. Back then all it took to suggest something supernatural was happening was a swaying chandelier, flickering candles, a lightning storm, eerily-lit oil paintings, billowing curtains and creaking doors, perhaps some moaning and some chains. Every show had these things. It didn't take much to get one in the mood. I miss that innocence, romanticism, simplicity and storybook mystery.

I think we will be going back to an extent, with our intent and with our image. A yin / yang of spirits. One pulled backward to the past and one moving into the future. I knew we would have to put future somewhere in the title to suggest there actually is a future for those in our field of study once the programs go into hibernation again. Yet every year I think the shows will die out, they become more popular than ever. Still, I miss the programs of the past, the way they saw the present and the way they saw the future. Tapping into a retroactive current, embracing the past while moving into tomorrow. I always wanted to be more than just the cookie-cutter team of 5.5 plus one medium, operating only within the empirical. We never joined any branches of Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures. We did our own thing, recruited who we wanted to suit the needs of the "investigation". Perhaps just changing the vocabulary from investigation to exploration, from evidence to something more evocative, more stimulating than a standard judicial term. Something encompassing more than just the paranormal, an umbrella term for a team of adventurers willing to apply full consciousness to all of their encounters.

Once, hours after a ghost hunt we hosted at the Williams Stables in Central City, I had to return to put some chairs back on the upper floor. I was upstairs, all the way at the back of the building when I realized I hadn't switched the lights on. I was so used to moving about in the dark with our FLIRS and full spectrum cameras that I simply forgot to turn on the lights. I had found my way in the dark, alone, feeling perfectly fine, without any fear or hesitation. Everything already seemed illuminated and when I think back on that experience I don't remember the darkness at all. I was willing to not attach any negative connotations to something I couldn't see. My primary animal totem is the bat, and I truly understood the symbology behind echolocation then. I had gone with the intention of hunting ghosts, but found illumination instead. Many times we come away from explorations with spiritual insights. Our most successful spirit photography sessions included a brief meditation beforehand, setting our intention before reaching for any gizmos. Native Americans believe there is a spirit in everything - the water, the wind, the fire, the earth. In a way you could call everything haunted. We have always tapped into the spirit of a location first and as such our name was always fitting. It is an essential element to what we do - the recognition of spirit, and just after finishing this paragraph, an old friend stopped by to gift me an owl feather, another confirmation of seeing in the dark, intuition and underworld associations.

From one of Northern Exposure's Chris In The Morning radio broadcasts regarding the recognition of death:

"We saw death, and we did what no other animal had done before. We dealt with it. We hit on the idea that death wasn't an end. It was a passage. Trying to make sense of the unknowable - what Joseph Campbell calls the "awakening of awe".

"That awakening to the mystery of death, and therewith of life, which, more than physical transformation, elevated man above the level of beasts."

Time to turn our flashlights off.

My uncle reminded me that there is no word for goodbye in Sioux, so we simply wish you well as we move into a new era - of leadership, of thought, of action - as we christen ourselves FUTURE GHOST, and look forward to sharing all that we experience with you.


Thank you for reading.

- Christopher Allen Brewer, December 2016

AHS Roanoke Season Finale Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIMsIBp80kI

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Introducing the LEGO SpiritChasers CHEESMAN PARK Playset!

Just a little Halloween labor of love from Christopher.  Enjoy!


Wishing everyone a Happy Halloween season and we hope to spook you soon!

Love,

- Christopher Allen Brewer, The SpiritChasers
October, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

THE 4TH ANNUAL SPIRITS OF COLORADO PARANORMAL CONVENTION


 
Join us at this year's Spirits Of Colorado Paranormal Convention in Cripple Creek on Saturday, September 19th!  We'll be holding a special media presentation “I WANT TO BELIEVE” from 4:20 to 5:15, ghost hunts at Maggie's starting at 10 ( Maggie being the most well-known haunt in Cripple Creek ), and staying the night in the Imperial Hotel's most haunted room.  Check out our official, personalized bottles from Coca-Cola!  These will serve as limited-edition giveaways, including glossy stickers and a ghost box, so click below for more info and registration.  We hope to scare you there!
 
 

 
 

About our "team": People often express surprise that we're not members of a TAPS or Ghost Adventures Crew. Apparently many self-started paranormal teams automatically join one or the other. It's believed this lends a team credibility. We do not believe this to be the case. 

Speaking energetically, which many debunkers forget is what this entire business is about, joining a tribe of any kind means consciously donating all of your energy into said organization. Plugging in this way means you adopt their beliefs, and you are subject to the same pace at which they acquire information and disseminate it with their members. You come to their defense and spread their word. In an instant. Everyone has to believe in something, right? 

One must also remember that these are scripted shows for entertainment purposes and there is a fair amount of manipulation which occurs to snare ratings. We have been on the Biography Channel twice and will confirm there was some very creative editing to the episodes we filmed. We wouldn't trade those experiences for anything and are forever grateful for those opportunities, but those events created an air of celebrity, which is far different from credibility. People really need to know the difference. 

Christopher was heavily influenced by Ed & Lorraine Warren in the early 80's, he was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and his early exposure to the spirit world came from those in his tribe, the Oglala Sioux. There was no cable out there in the 70's, no paranormal media fixtures, and what Christopher could learn came from good old-fashioned books. His heroes were his grandfather and those family members who took time to teach him about his relationship with spirit. 

His first official ghost hunt occurred at age 12, and he didn't claim alliance with anyone but the Creator. He still doesn't. He created The SpiritChasers in 2007 in direct response to the over-saturation of sideshow paranormal programs dominating television at that time.

From Christopher's 2012 interview with After Dark With Dr. Mike: "I learned early on that spirit existed in everything, so in a way one could say that everything was already haunted. The paranormal was normal, there was no element of phenomena to it, though it was indeed fascinating. It was a natural occurrence, but that doesn't mean it wasn't scary. Though grandma had crossed over some years ago, she still came back to visit during weddings. We just knew to expect her, though to see doorknobs turning around the house at night was terrifying. 

So, this wasn't something we had to prove to anyone, our ancestors had already known of the existence of spirits and other life forms for ages. Most of them were actually seen as bothersome. I understand debunking helps people feel smart, an instant Professor Holmes, like their paranormal friends on TV. It's again supposed to generate credibility and has become quite a trend, but we don't come from that. 

The Ghost Hunters began all this debunkery with their 'orbs are trash' decree in our present age of spiritualism, much like those in the 1800's who were fed up with paper mâché ectoplasm and early photoshop fails. TAPS admitted they were looking for a little attention with this proclamation, and they got some, but it's gone too far the other end. We don't even like to consider ourselves a paranormal team. We certainly don't consider our pictures and EVPs as 'evidence'. 

We have a rotating roster of people we have known for years, friends and family members, who join James and I on investigations. This is because we know they will have respect, we know these people and share the same views. Well, most of us. We're not even all believers and we don't want to be, we want to have fresh perspectives. We like the idea of something more intimate, so we don't recruit people like everyone else. We have never fallen in line with popular belief and originally wanted to be the antithesis of everything we saw on TV. 

By 2007 we saw people beating their chests, cursing at spirits, setting themselves on fire or bloodletting to generate activity. Even people ghost hunting underwater! And last year that group trying to trap a spirit with solar panels?! Every year it became more outrageous and more vanity and fear-based. Don't even get us started on the demons. 

I guess debunking was also an eventual response to this craziness, but we would never take an experience away from someone or tell them how an event actually went down if we weren't even there. We actually started a campaign known as 'Save The Orbs!' My ancestors saw these things and they weren't dust, they were 'peteuhala'. Cold spots used to be a thing, then it became hot spots. We used to run around with dowsing rods - and still do- but now people use obnoxious ghost boxes and blinking tricorder thingies. 

We got a reputation early on for being anti-tool, for accusing flashlight fanatics of being taken for no more than Victorian novelty. We're not anti-tool because we have all of these tools, but we don't let ourselves rely on these things and I think that's why we have the body of 'evidence' we do. When I started out it was a ghetto blaster for recording EVPs and a Polaroid camera, no more. When James came on board he was also disenchanted with the shows and just wanted to go out with a camera and voice recorder, no more. And who could blame him? 

He lived down the street from a park where a tragic plane crash occurred. We had a nightly opportunity for experimenting with different methods of contact over the years and I can honestly tell you that the best tool was our intuition and the best method was meditation beforehand. Just like my ancestors held ceremony before any contact with the spirit world, so would we. Otherwise where is your focus, your intent, your energy? It has to be more than just copying what you see on TV. It has to be more than just watching flashing lights. 

In high school I had the mohawk, the ankh, the boots, smoked cloves. At their dances I hung with a new wave crowd and we'd cover our ears and shriek when they played top 40. There's still a bit of that attitude with me, with James. We've always done our own thing. It doesn't make us better than anyone else, but you do need a vision of your own. A little style never hurts. We don't look like typical heavy metal ghost hunters or People Of Walmart with EMF detectors. It's important we're far removed from the obvious and that helps us to see things from a different perspective. 

We no longer care if we're seen as credible or not. We don't provide "services" or have the giant logo magnets on the side of our cars. We're explorers and philosophers. Because I have been involved in the metaphysical community since 2002, we come from esoteric ground. Because I am Sioux, I will always expect activity and I will always know that world is accessible and I don't need a flashlight or box for that. I never did. I know there will always be advances in technology from fires to phones and nothing against anyone else - I mean that - but I will always tap into spirit first, without some overflowing toybox of battery-operated things." 

To hear more, join The SpiritChasers at the 4th Annual Spirits Of Colorado Paranormal Convention in Cripple Creek on Saturday, September 19th. The SC will be holding a special media presentation as well as hosting a ghost hunt at one of the most haunted buildings there ( and staying in the most haunted room at The Imperial ). Go to Coloradoghosttours.com to register.
 
 

 Thank you for reading. 

- Christopher Allen Brewer, September, 2015