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Spirits & Werewolves

Date: 10-27-09
Host: George Noory
Guests: Mary Ann Winkowski, Dr. Bob Curran

In the first half of the show, real-life ghostbuster and consultant to the TV show Ghost Whisperer, Mary Ann Winkowski shared some of her adventures with earthbound spirits. Spirits that don't cross over tend to linger in places where they had unfinished business or conflicts-- some locations can be quite mundane such as the office of a dentist or criminal attorney, she detailed. In her visits to funerals (which family members request), she interacts with the spirits of the deceased, whom she says are often standing by the photos of themselves so they can hear what people say about them.

In one recent visit to a funeral home, she was shocked to see the body of the deceased posed in a recliner in front of a football game on TV. The man's spirit, standing nearby in a flannel shirt and jeans, said to her: "Isn't this a great idea instead of a casket?" Winkowski also talked about her only encounter with a demon, which took place around 40 years ago. At first she thought it was an animal-- it looked like a horse standing upright, but then she saw it had a human face.

To lessen the activity of earthbound spirits, she suggested burning a smudge stick, and carrying it around the perimeters of a haunted location. The smoke makes the spirits lethargic, she explained.

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Dr. Bob Curran (book link) appeared in the latter of half of the show, discussing the creation of the werewolf tradition, how humans transform themselves into animals, and why the werewolf is viewed as evil. The myth of the werewolf stretches back to the early mists of time, he said, with early man admiring the hunting skills of the wolf, and pondering how they could take on their characteristics.

There were wolf and bear cults, where hunters wore animals' pelts as a way to glean their ferocious attributes, especially for battle. In fact, the word berserk comes from the Old Norse, berserkr, for bear + shirt, he noted. Cult members may have conducted supernatural rituals to bring different animals' spirits into themselves, perhaps even involving shapeshifting, he said. The medieval church decided that any supernatural powers associated with this source were coming from the Devil, and this is how the werewolf began to acquire a reputation for being evil rather than a hero, Curran detailed.

In the late 1500s and early 1600s, some men were put on trial for being werewolves, with claims they committed cannibalism, he noted. He also spoke about ideas related to the full moon-- it was linked with Diana, the huntress, but later came to be associated with "lunacy" and bizarre behavior.

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