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"The part we ignore…may contain the clue to the whole subject." ~ J. Allen Hynek

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Unsolicited Advice: New to U.F.O. / Paranormal/Cryptid Stuff?

Well, there’s Google. Go for it. No shame, and yes, you’ll find yourself tumbling  down the rabbit hole, but, we all find ourselves there at some point or another. So just know that will happen.

Remember books? Library, bookstores, used and new. Problem is, often libraries have scant and skewed selections. For the most part, libraries don’t take such things seriously. And bookstores — the chain ones — are more about popular topics that sell, than offering books on the meat of the matter. Used bookstores are often better, simply depending on the opinions of the owner. I’ve found some great books in second hand bookstores.  Just depends.

Library sales, that’s another source, as Goodwill and other thrift stores. You have to look in all kinds of categories. St. Vinnie’s, at least in my area, really does a good job of placing books according to genre. Goodwill, not so much. Look in not only “paranormal” sections but science, religion, folklore…

eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. You never know.

Don’t give up.

And of course there’s social media, like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Search, lurk, read, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask. Just develop a bit of a thick skin, because there are some know it alls who won’t hesitate for a moment to tell you what’s good, what’s bad, and if you don’t take their advice, you’re a moron.

Blogs. Blogs might be — I hear tell — going out of style, but I will not accept that. Then again, I am the Queen of the Fortean Blogosphere. I have so many blogs, I forget about some of them for awhile. (Most recent, my UFO-Mary blog on blogspot.com) But there is a lot of great info and art and personal narratives and book lists and history that you could easily spend a whole day pursuing such information.

Sure, I have my own list of books that a person new to the field should read. But, while of course I think it’s an important list, it’s just my opinion. Point is, read what you can, when you can, ask questions, don’t entertain trolls (they still exist, even though the 1990’s are over) and think for yourself. Make up your own. mind. And know that your mind will, hopefully, change many times along the way, as you gather more information.

The really only important point is this: staying stuck on a theory is death. Be willing to change, to morph, to evolve. Don’t be afraid to question. And be brave enough to ignore the trolls and debunkers who will try anything — anything — to shut you up if you decide to share your own experience.

Circus and Haiku: A Positive Omen for Creativity?

Couldn’t sleep last night; got up, tried to write. During the day, I was going through old files, trying to clean up my work area. Lots of files on UFOs, the paranormal. A lot of academic papers I’d written when studying folklore at the University of Oregon. (One titled: Talking Deer: The Presence and Function of Animals in UFO Abduction Lore.)Made some notes, went over pages of stuff, but, nothing. Went back to bed.

Earlier in the day, I tweeted to a haiku group that a goal of mine is to “write a haiku a day.” I started doing this a couple of years ago. Not quite one a day; sometimes a few in one day, then nothing for awhile. I carry around a little black notebook just for my writing notes and poems, haiku and haibun.

 

the New Year’s goal

writing a haiku a day

not going well

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I subscribe to Modern Haiku. (MH published one of my haiku years ago, rejected a couple of months ago though. Try again . . . ) Aside from writing fiction; poetry and short fiction, I also write about the paranormal and supernatural, UFOs, and all kinds of weird.

I had the following dream last night, after I finally went to bed:

My new issue of Modern Haiku arrived, which surprises me, since I just received a copy and they publish a few times a year. Much too soon to receive a copy. But, I’m very happy to receive this. I also receive an unexpected zine from someone I don’t know. I wonder how they got my address, how they know about me. Both are fiction and poetry inspired publications.

In the Modern Haiku journal, there is an article by a woman about me! The title was Regan Lee: Circus. The author writes that, while not a believer, nor disbeliever, in things paranormal, she was inspired and moved by my writing. Somehow this writer got a hold of my article and she wrote a very positive review of my work.

Of course I’m excited and honored and show this off to everyone, including co-workers. I don’t care if they don’t care — though most of them are interested, and do know of my work in this area — I am so happy about this! But also a little confused. How did this woman come to know of my work? I hadn’t put this paper up anywhere.

The other zine, also from someone I didn’t know, gives me a positive mention as well. Again, I wonder how it is these people came across my work. I also wonder at the strangeness of a review on UFOs and the paranormal appearing in a haiku publication. And what does the circus have to do with any of this? (Circus: something I abhor.)

Creativity. Something extremely important to me, with me my whole life. I don’t put creativity in a box; it’s everywhere, in everything I do or think. Some may not think there is anything creative — blending into a spiritual place — about the realm of UFOs and related themes. I those areas as operating in a strong  and creative plane. Two worlds: outer, inner. Fiction, non-fiction. Mundane, magical. Not always opposites with nothing in common. Going back and forth between worlds.

Which is what I’ve been doing since childhood.  Expressing one realm to another. Maybe that’s the circus part; it can get very chaotic and silly and surreal very fast. I take this dream as a positive message to keep going, following my own crazy path.

Labeling the Experience

 

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Labels. We all use them, in every situation and context. Labels help us. They also manipulate us. We need something to hang onto, something to help us make sense of things. A handy quick label keeps us moving. We assume we all know, all agree, what we’re talking about when we use labels. Of course, most of the time that’s not true. We don’t agree, we aren’t sure, and we just want to get to it. Not get bogged down with defining our labels or explaining ourselves.

Anyway.

When it comes to UFOs, well, the word itself is a label abused. Both debunkers and believers (more labels!) assume UFO means aliens from outer space. (My theory is “they started it” meaning the skepti-bunkers, who insist that UFO of course  “really” means ET, and therefore, let the scoffing and mocking begin.)

What labels to use when talking about people who’ve interacted with UFOs and or entities? Experiencer is a big one. Abductee, contactee, … the edges blur with those two, though of course those words help us identify witnesses who have been contacted, or taken, by entities. (And I do recognize that I use entity more than alien, certainly more than ET, because, well, we don’t know they’re literal ETs.)  I will not ever tell someone who’s gone through encounters what to do; never suggest they take a specific approach or use only certain terminology. That’s up to them. For myself, I think simply using the word witness is enough. Yes, I’ve experienced things as well, but for me, that word in this context seems clinical. The use of the word experience removes a complicated mass of emotions and responses, it sets the self apart from the crazy mysterious scary weird exhilarating thing that happened.

It is up to each one of us who have witnessed these things to use whatever terms makes sense to us at the time. And the researchers who work with witnesses need to respect that, using their own language as they see fit, but allowing the witness her or his voice as well.

 

A Comment on my recent Stint on Jeremy Vaeni’s ‘Experience’ Podcast

It’s very difficult to mine any information from this interview. Regan was good at expressing her own bafflement and confusion with her experiences, but not at describing them with enough detail that we could either sincerely share her bafflement or perhaps provide some clarity. She says she’s trying to understand them better, and I believe her, but I also sense an unwillingness to open her experiences up fully to outside commentary. One thing that was obvious is that she’s concluded far more about her experiences than she expresses outright, and perhaps she fears that opening up her experiences to outside comment will challenge those conclusions and throw her back into a worse confusion, or confirm the worst of them which she is not ready to hear, but that looks to me to be rooted in a lack of self-confidence and a disbelief that anyone could really offer her anything truly beneficial.

I apologize to Regan for being so critical, and perhaps I’ve got it all wrong, I share my thoughts freely and whether she considers them or throws them into the bin I’ll take no offense.

A comment left  on Jeremy Vaeni’s Unknown Country/Experience podcast site in response to my podcast appearance on Vaeni’s program several weeks ago, (Which I greatly enjoyed, and once again, thank Jeremy for the opportunity to talk with him. Always truly wonderful, and funny, and “real” to speak with Vaeni.)
No offense taken dear commentator, I agree with many of your thoughts.
I am only trying to figure it out. Being human, and having all kinds of experiences involving  trauma — extant of any paranormal/supernatural experiences, I have my blind spots. Some I’m aware of, some I’m not.
We’re all in this together, trying to figure it out, find our way. Find those to trust, who will listen. Find others who’ve had similar experiences, who will share, and, listen to us without a knee jerk reaction of rejection.
Search, research, study.
But yeah, I’m human, and like everyone else, have moments of clarity, then, those muddled moments of what-ifs and it-couldn’t- possibly- be. Even fear. Okay, FEAR.  At times.
I don’t doubt at all that there’s a part of me that is afraid. Fuck yeah. Missing time? Not once, but at least twice. It’d be bad enough if it were only me present at those times, but, no. Others were present who confirmed the experiences.  Same with the invisible but no less real presences, (alien? not human, anyway) again, confirmed by others. And, so on  . . .
And I will acknowledge that yes, there are still some private, intimate episodes that I’m not willing to share now, or, I might find, will never be willing to share. Fear, shame, confusion, self-protection, … who knows. But it’s my right  to decide when and  where I will share these episodes. Will they be useful to the meta-data? To women in this field? To me?! Probably.  Yet in the meantime, we have to allow ourselves the time and space to process all this stuff.
We have to respect witnesses and let them speak, encourage but not harass or persecute those who share their stories. There will be a time when they’re (and when I’m) ready  to be even more open.
Being so-called closed shouldn’t imply a dishonesty, but foster a sense of compassion and patience.
True, there are those are coy for whatever reason (er, um, well,  David Paulides . . .) but the majority of people sharing their stories are being truthful. Sadly, but reallistically, there are always those who are hoaxers, liars, or sloppy and sleezy creeps (David Jacobs, in my opinion) but it’s a given that in any field — you name it, any field — that there are the liars, creeps, psychos, and huskters.

Just Be Honest and Do The Work

My latest rant on Facebook, related to… oh I don’t know. Just the usual I suppose. The arguments, the in-fighting, the eating our own, the UFO Police.

UFOlogy needs to stop being so needy. And at the same time, stop being so authoritarian. There will be no UFO Police. Stop being so damn obsequious; trying to get the approval of Science, and to a lesser degree, academia. Just be honest. Just listen. Stop being competitive and accept that we are individuals, with individual talents and experiences, backgrounds and knowledge, to contribute. And stop being afraid to call out those creeps who get away with stuff because he (or she) is “one of us.” David Jacobs being at the top of the list. You don’t personally think there are reptilians? Fine. Don’t. But move on. But be honest if an account shows up in your data. Don’t mock or reject based on your own bias. This is what UFOlogy needs, not the surreal loop of non-productive whining about science, and the “crazies.” You do realize that to the outside world, also known as the “real” world, we’re All crazy, here in the fringe? So you can forget that. Just do the work, be honest, listen, and get over yourself.

From Tina Sena: People of Color and Anomalous Experiences

Tina Sena, sister paranormal pundit, has just posted this on her Facebook page. Tina very nicely gave me permission to re-post her post here on the Orb.

Tina Sena is curious about the myth that “people of color” don’t have alien, UFO and other weird experiences. Or, that they do have as many but don’t report their experiences.  Being a woman of color herself, she is curious about this. I remember this came up once when I was studying folklore. The late Dr. Edwin Coleman, who was African American, told me that in his experience, people of color didn’t report their experiences for fear of being further marginalized.  Not being a person of color myself, I can’t speak to this, all I can do is support Tina in her project.

So, there is this unspoken belief that People of Color do not really experience the paranormal. Or, that The Peoples of the Colors do not report as often as our Pale brethren. In my downtime, I have become a sort of collector/chronicler of ‘Urban myths & Monsters’ and I am looking for a lot more stories/experiences. I am searching for patterns and consistencies. So here is where you come in: submit your story. I will have a Blog/Site going up once I have enough content. I promise there will be a SUBMIT tab. For now, feel free to DM me. I will keep you anonymous if that’s what you wish. What I am looking for is a detailed account of your experience. As best as you can remember. Time of day, weather, your state of mind, were there witnesses, location…
I am looking for Urban experiences so ANYONE can submit. I am just trying to compile the experiences of Urban Dwellers and POC in one place.
To my friends in the Stream: if you have any stories that you could not use for whatever reason, that you think I could add, please HOLLA!
And finally, spread the word.
Thank you and G’day!

Related links:

Tina Sena: Let’s Throw Down  (Regan Lee on BoA)

YUFOlogy

Tina Sena’s column on Binnall of America (BoA)

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