Spiritual / Paranormal Activity News: High Haunted Property Values, ‘La Santa Muerte’ Death Cult and the Haunted Texas Opry Theater
How a Haunting Could Up Your Property Value
A quarter of British people claim to have seen a ghost, according to research from the University of Hertfordshire. Twenty years ago, only 14 per cent made that claim. I can only conclude that we have a growing ghost population; there must be many more mysterious white ladies floating about.
This is exciting news for the housing market because all these extra ghosts will have to be accommodated. It used to be only grand old houses and pubs with beams that could show off about having a resident ghost, but now first-time haunters will have to seek out more modern and more modest properties.
It will boost house prices, because ghosts are a good selling point. Now couples will visit their estate agents, looking for a three-bedroom house with a decent-sized garden and a female spectre: quiet moaning preferred.
They might settle for a headless horseman as long as he didn’t trample the flower bed.
The estate agent may offer a semi in a quiet residential location which has the benefit of gas central heating throughout, but also a stunning sudden chill on the landing late at night. It also boasts a walk-though wall separating the kitchen and dining area. Other features include heart-rending groans in the attic, possibly dating from the Fifties.
If this property does not have the right howl-factor, he can suggest a chain-free maisonette which affords scope for sudden shivers. It also comprises a fully equipped utility room with a superb period ghost. This is a much sought-after Victorian serving girl betrayed by her lover. The location also affords scope for off-street poltergeists.
I confess I have never seen a ghost, but sometimes in our flat I hear creaking, rattling and a sound like a deep sigh. Local legend (just made up) says it’s the troubled spirit of a building surveyor, doomed to walk this earth for eternity, searching for dry rot.
‘La Santa Muerte’ Death Cult Invades U.S.
gotbw - They call her “La Santa Muerte,” the Saint of Death, and her followers have multiplied rapidly over the last decade as violence has gripped Mexico and spilled across the border, say missionaries who have witnessed the death cult’s growing influence.
From Mexico City to border towns such as Laredo, and lately in large American cities such as Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, her cloaked, skeletal icon, usually depicted gripping the Grim Reaper’s scythe, is often seen hanging from the windows, entryways and sometimes on the tattoos of her disciples.
Her appeal lies in basic human desires—especially appealing to the poor and to drug runners, who entreat her for protection and vengeance.
“Healing, money, protection, or they want power,” explained Orpha Ortega, who along with her husband, William, serves as a Southern Baptist missionary in Mexico City.
Santa Muerte is a growing concern for Christian pastors in border towns such as Laredo, where a meeting last month hosted by Southern Baptist missionaries drew Spanish-speaking pastors, church leaders and at least one concerned police officer, whose experiences at a local jail prompted him to attend. (Spanish-language video of the meeting is accessible at sbtexas.com/videos.)
The death cult figures prominently in the surging violence by Mexican drug traffickers, known as narcos, in interior Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexico border, William Ortega told those at the meeting.
The Ortegas have ministered for six of the 12 years they’ve been in Mexico City in the Tepito neighborhood—notorious for its thriving black market. Poverty, drugs and violence are pervasive and the largest shrine to Saint Death is an institution there.
Of 28 million people in Mexico City, about 2 million are estimated to be followers of Saint Death, Ortega said, with large numbers of them in Tepito.
Last week, the Ortegas welcomed the news that Mexican authorities had arrested the leader of that Tepito shrine and the closest thing the cult has to a high priest, David Romo, on kidnapping and money laundering charges, according to multiple news accounts.
Increasingly, the death cult has moved north, making inroads into border towns and American cities where Mexican immigrants find work.
Ortega said adherents are largely two groups: drug dealers and the poor, with the former seeking protection from authorities and vengeance on their enemies and the latter seeking healing, protection from the violence around them, and prosperity. The death saint, her followers claim, offers all of the above.
A Baptist worker in the Laredo area told the TEXAN he hears testimonies of healing from cancer, AIDS and other ailments at the hands of Saint Death.
“But most of the time, their promise of healing or protection involves the killing of someone else in order to receive a miracle or in order to receive a protection,” he said.
That was one of the points Ortega emphasized during the Laredo meeting. In the Texas border town and across the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo is the largest number of Saint Death followers along the Rio Grande, Ortega said.
Often, Christians are seen as enemies of the cult for their winning converts and refusing to syncretize orthodox Christianity with the death cult.
Although the Mexican government officially removed Santa Muerte from its list of recognized religions in 2005 and the Roman Catholic church has deemed it a pagan cult, many of its adherents are said to mix their Catholicism with Santa Muerte practices, the missionaries said.
With its authority in mostly oral tradition and its roots in ancient Aztec and Mayan death gods, the cult easily spreads its message through folklore. Worship practices include the placing of rum, flowers, or candy at the feet of a Santa Muerte altar, begging her favor in exchange for her favorite gifts.
In Mexico City, the Ortegas have had success in some areas planting churches and winning converts, but they said in Tepito, some of the churches don’t last long “because they are weak Christians and it is hard for them to grow with all of the opposition around them.”
“You can go there [to Tepito] and give them a tract and they will read it, but it’s almost like fighting against Satan himself,” Orpha Ortega said. “It’s a real battle there.
“We still have not been harmed and are grateful to God for that. So continue praying for us to be strong and be brave. And for other people for God to open their eyes.”
In some border towns, where many of her followers are either tied to drug cartels or are seeking protection from them, the rise of the death cult has created obstacles to the gospel.
“It’s affecting a lot,” said one missionary working along the border. “First of all, they teach their followers they cannot talk to us. We are Christian, we are their enemies, they are taught. Secondly, they try to attack us in different ways. As a missionary here, they have threatened me, written notes. I’ve been on their watch list. It is spiritual warfare.”
On the Texas side of the border, the missionary was quick to note that short-term missionary volunteers are relatively safe. “It is a problem for us because we are encountering them on a daily, long-term basis.”
“Pray for safety while I’m doing the work,” the missionary implored those who would read his interview. “Pray for my integrity and holiness. Pray the Lord will provide the right leaders to provide churches. The only way we will win the fight is to plant those churches that preach the truth.”
Bruno Molina, SBTC ministry associate for language evangelism, said the death cult “is a challenge to the gospel not only in Mexico, but increasingly beyond the U.S border area into other areas of Texas. The very name of its representative organization, roughly translated as ‘The Traditional Church of Mexico-USA,’ implies that they do not see themselves as just a Mexican ‘religious’ phenomenon but that they lay claim to the U.S. as part of their cultic turf.”
“They claim 1.5 million adherents here in the U.S. and, due to our shared border with Mexico, many of them necessarily reside in Texas,” Molina added. “This is evident not only in our jails, but also in Texas front yards that display Santa Muerte figures, cars and pick-up trucks decorated with Santa Muerte decals, and people who are tattooed with Santa Muerte figures. The Santa Muerte cult is virulently anti-Christian in that it promotes devotion to someone, namely Saint Death, other than God through Jesus Christ.
“Our evangelism department is committed to exposing this challenge to the gospel and working with our pastors to equip their church members to meet this challenge.”
weatherforddemocrat - It is 10 at night . . .
My 17-year-old son Ian and I arrive at the Texas Opry Theater in Weatherford where we will join a paranormal team who hopes to find evidence of ghosts.
I am willing to be open minded; he is much less so, and I wonder if his skepticism will cast a pall on the night’s activities.
But as we pull into the parking lot on York Avenue, we find we can agree on one thing.
The Opry, built in the 1800s and the former site of both a hotel and a church, is kind of creepy.
Ian and I are a few minutes ahead of the North Texas Paranormal Trackers, who initiated this investigation — their third — and we slip into the building like mist as the crowd disperses after the final show.
An older woman in red leather fringe and rhinestone-studded cowboy boots is rising from a table in the lobby where she has probably been selling CDs.
We hear loud, prerecorded country music and enter the auditorium — once a church sanctuary — to find a man removing parts from a sound system on the stage.
We sit down and look around. It is big and empty and kind of musty.
Soon the half dozen trackers, dressed in matching black T-shirts bearing their logo, arrive.
One is Leslie Alford, who once worked at the Opry for owner Jerry Carter. Another is Susan Irvin, the group’s fearless leader.
They have an amazing synergy, Irvin tells me. Spirits seem to show up when the two women are together.
Neither seems unusual, yet both say they are mediums, meaning they believe they can talk to the dead. They have a gift.
It is a claim that makes me a little nervous.
I believe that spirits exist — the Holy Spirit for one — and I don’t think you should count something out just because your five senses cannot detect it.
On the other hand, they are all that most of us have, and we tend to go with what they tell us.
The trackers want to prove that ghosts exist, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
They hope to hear voices, feel bone-chilling cold temperatures and see objects defy gravity and move across the room unaided.
In addition, they will rely on a battery of equipment to catch things that their senses cannot.
To gather evidence, the ghosthunters have come equipped with high frequency voice recorders to capture ghost voices, electromagnetic field detectors to locate and track their presence, and video and digital cameras to document their appearance as “orbs” or apparitions.
One team member carries a “ghost box,” a handheld radio that scans every frequency and, according to the Paranormal Research and Resource Society, is believed to create white noise and audio remnants from broadcast stations that ghosts can manipulate to create words.
My son is unimpressed with the quality of the equipment. I have no clue.
First up is a tour. As a group we assess the stage, where witnesses have reported hearing unexplained voices and footsteps, and we check out the ladies’ dressing room, where a voyeur ghost is rumored to exist.
We peer into every room on every level, from the basement to the balcony, and the trackers “sense” things: a heaviness, a spirit of fear, different levels of energy.
Behind the stage I think I feel the heaviness, but it is only a little, and I do not mention it. Most likely I am imagining it. Probably.
The tour complete, the trackers regroup to set up their tools and gadgets.
I have a Coke and chat with Opry owner Jerry Carter, who sports a flashy, sequined jacket and carries a blind man’s cane.
Carter purchased the building in 1991 and first heard the ghost while he was remodeling a year later.
A rapid succession of unexplained cracking noises across the ceiling frightened him so much that he left the building, convinced that the ceiling was falling.
He and his wife Marilyn have heard footsteps on more than one occasion; once they sounded exactly like Marilyn’s walk.
“It scared the hell out of us, and we went home,” he said.
Carter tells me a story about thousands of black spiders that once emerged from the old church’s baptistry. As they crawled up the walls, he said, his hands began to itch.
“I said, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, and stay there,’ and the itching stopped,” he said. “The next day all the spiders were gone.”
Over the years Carter has experienced a pushing, a pressure so insistent he has talked to it.
Others have felt it, too. One of them was a health inspector, he said, who described the feeling as unbearable, and refused to come back.
But Carter is quick to point out that the ghost has a friendly side.
“This thing is also spiritual,” Carter insists in a phone interview. “At the same time all this weird off-the-wall crap has happened, spiritual stuff has happened.”
Carter describes how affordable contractors have miraculously come to his aid as needs have arisen for sheetrock and a new roof.
“Whenever I needed anything, I could go in the auditorium and ask for it,” he said, “and it would come to me.”
“I don’t know who I’m praying to,” he confesses. “I want to believe it’s a higher power. It’s got to be that way. It makes you wonder what the ghost is about.”
The trackers, ready to begin, cut my visit with Carter short around 11 p.m..
They give me a small flashlight and then shut off the lights and the air, the better to see and feel the energy emanating from the spirits.
I choose to follow Irvin and another member of the team, and we enter a storage room behind the balcony.
“I don’t feel wanted in this room,” Irvin calls out to the darkness. “Do you want us to leave? Someone is hiding in the corner here. I have a feeling of fear.”
We walk to other rooms, while the ghosthunters listen for beeps from the EMF meter that would indicate the presence of a lot of energy, they say.
They sweep the rooms with the digital camera, usually taking two photos in succession of the same place, which sometimes show images that include small white globes. The trackers call these globes orbs and believe they are the spirits of the dead.
Others — like Troy Taylor, author of the Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook — say that most orbs are simply refractions of light on the digital camera lens, created when the camera flash bounces back from something reflective in the range of the camera.
“Can you give me a name,” Irvin questions. “Can you make something move?”
“I don’t believe you are here,” she taunts, “but you can prove me wrong. Can you talk into my red light?”
During the course of the investigation, Irvin feels both cold and heat “like a furnace.” She and another member of the team smell the stench of decay in a room below the stage.
But I feel and smell nothing. My son wants to sneak off and pretend he is a ghost, but I rein him in.
After all the rooms have been investigated, we gather in the auditorium and try to guess the ghost’s identity.
“Are you a church member,” Irvin asks. “Did it bother you when they took the church down and built an opry?”
As we close on midnight, the appointed hour for my son’s and my own departure, the trackers believe they hear the ghost identify himself as Mike on the handheld radio.
“Are you comfortable with us being here, or do you want us to leave,” Irvin asks.
The answer, they decide, is leave, and so Ian and I comply and head home.
But the ghosthunters stay until 3 a.m., disclosing by e-mail later that they received “lots of audio, names given when asked and several pictures of various apparitions” in the wee hours of the morning.
Unfortunately, I was unable to learn more.
A second e-mail from Irvin reported that Carter is unwilling to release the information that was gathered, and so the story ends shrouded in mystery.
To tell the truth, it would have ended in mystery anyway.
Because who can prove the existence of ghosts?
And who can prove that they don’t exist?
I remain open minded, and my son is still skeptical.
Maybe you should visit the Opry and decide for yourself.
From the Archives: August 10, 1977 - Scientists Say Belief in Paranormal Harmful
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