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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christian group claims The Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011

Artists impression of what The Rapture will look like
Image courtesy of Logos Christian Center

Ask any conspiracy theorist when the world is going to end and more likely than not they will respond that it will be on Dec. 21, 2012 (based on the fact the Mayan calendar ends on that day). But not everyone is in agreement. Some say the rapture will actually happen this year, and the date is May 21, 2011.

There is a small Christian movement based out of Oakland, California that is independent of churches whose founder, Harold Camping, is convinced from reading the bible and making several calculations that the end of the world is less than three months away.

Camping believes the bible functions essentially as a cosmic calendar of sorts and all his calculations come from reading the bible but that the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 is what confirms the date.

From his radio network, Family Radio Worldwide, Harold has been able to get his message out there to those who would believe. His followers are using everything billboards and bus stop benches to a traveling caravan of RVs and volunteers handing out pamphlets to spread his message that the rapture is coming. Some are even planning on going overseas to Africa and the Middle East (not the best time to do that in my opinion) to spread their message even further.

This isn’t the first time (nor the last) that a religious group has predicted end times. One of the most famous was by the Baptist leader William Miller who predicted the end would fall on Oct. 22, 1844 and came to be known as the Great Disappointment among his followers and some of those founded the Seventh Day Adventist church.

So is the world going to end soon? It’s hard to say. I remember when I was in Catholic school (explains a lot doesn’t it) reading in the bible (specifically in the books of Mark & Matthew) that no one can know the date or even the hour it will occur. But this doesn’t stop these groups from trying to convince their followers for whatever reason that they know when the rapture will occur. Most are harmless and when the date passes. Then there are groups like Heaven’s Gate that perform a mass suicide thinking that is the only way to safe themselves. Let’s hope when May 21 does come nothing like that will happen.

Personally I plan on spending that day differently. Several friends’ birthdays are on that day (local derby grrl Karma Kaze, wife of blogfather Mike Osegueda, Tanya, and President/Ceo of Storyland & Playland Barry Falke) so I know something will be going on. Besides knowing my luck the world will end on my birthday, August 23.

Source: The Star

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The legend of Chowchilla's Minturn Cemetery

On the banks of the Chowchilla River in northern Madera County lies a small cemetery dating back to the late 1800's. Both the cemetery and the area itself were named after wheat farmers by the name of Minturn who had a railroad siding built in the area in 1872. Buried at the cemetery are Rowland (1845-1894), Jonas (1819-1884) and Jonas's wife Abby West (1820-1899). It should be noted that Jonas and Abby had several children, but none are buried there.

Rumors of paranormal activity have gone back for many years. High school students would go out there in the hopes of witnessing something strange. There have been reports of hearing a woman screaming and children either crying or laughing. Others have claimed to have seen the ghost of a man picking up trash around the graves. There's even a report of a group of teens going out there one night and their car died when the drove up to the cemetery. One group even claims to actually hear a disembodied voice asking why they came back and they they were going to die.

One has to ask the question is this cemetery actually haunted and if so why? Could the ghost of the man that has been seen be either Rowland or Jonas, making sure the grounds on which they are buried are kept clean and tidy? And what of the reports of the woman screaming? Could this be Abby? Perhaps the sound of ghostly children can be linked to this. It's known that Abby and Jonas had several children, but the cemetery only has the three I mentioned buried there. There's no mention of any children at all. Maybe Abby is screaming because her children aren't buried in the same location she is and the children are crying for the same reason. All I do know is that the legends of the Minturn Cemetery have persisted for a long time and will continue to do so.

Please note that I did not say where this cemetery is located. I was told it is on private property and that the owner's permission is required first. Even with that information I don't know the exact location, just the intersection of two roads and then you travel down a dirt path for about a mile. With that being said if anyone does decide to find this cemetery, please, please get the owners permission first. If not you will be trepessaing and will deserve any punishment you will get. Don't fuck this up for paranormal researchers just because you want to get a cheap thrill.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recap of crystal skull visit to Fresno

As I had mentioned last week, I was asked to attend the lecture on one of the famed crystal skulls named Max. The lecture was given by its owner, JoAnn Parks, at Fresno’s Tai Chi Center thanks to a last minute cancellation in Los Angeles. JoAnn has lectured all over the world and on radio shows like Coast to Coast Am, so it was a treat to have her in Fresno.

A crowd gathers around Max before start of the lecture
(Photo courtesy of Michael Banti)

I arrived a few minutes early as I wanted to get a glimpse of Max before the lecture started. As I walked in I saw JoAnn setting Max down on a table and I was able to walk up and observe it. Max was about the size of a human school and I was told he weighs in excess of 16lbs and carved from pure quartz and is estimated to be several thousand years old.

I sat down as the lecture began. First I have to say thanks to JoAnn. Her flight from Texas was delayed due to all the crazy weather and she had only about three hours of sleep. But she still showed up and spoke for the allotted two hours. So I have to give credit where credit is due.

As the lecture started I was under the assumption it would be a bunch of metaphysical mumbo jumbo (you know me always the skeptic), but I was surprised in how down to earth JoAnn was and how simple her message was. She didn’t try to force her beliefs on anyone in the room and wanted everyone to come to their own conclusion based off what they took from what she had to say. She talked about how she came across Max, that she received him from a Tibetan llama (monk) that she knew for several years. She then went into a bit of detail regarding the crystal skulls, how there are some known to be faked, and then ones like hers are a mystery (the British museum tested Max, but wouldn’t comment on what they found). She continued to talk about Max’s message (she claims he speaks to her telepathically) about peace and how he is to be used as a tool for knowledge.

After the lecture was over the group was allowed to approach Max one at a time and touch him (there have been reports of people sensing some sort of energy when they touched Max and others have claimed he spoke to them). I decided to use this opportunity to get some photos. As I walked up to him I snapped some photos, hoping something strange would show up similar to the photos displayed around Max, but alas nothing was out of the ordinary. When it was my turn to touch Max, I was a bit apprehensive (mostly cause I’m a bit of a germophobe, but Max was wiped down with a wet wipe after each person touched him), but I decided to as I wanted to say I touched one of the crystal skulls. Unfortunately no great revelation was shown to me, but I marveled at how smooth he was and how difficult it was to carve him with just hand tools.

A closeup of Max with a photo of with JoAnn with Max
and other skulls in the background.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Banti)

I did ask JoAnn if she ever planned on writing a book of her experiences and she said she had written a manuscript but had never gotten any further. She said she might make that available in the future, but wasn’t sure yet. She also mentioned that she would be back in Fresno sometime next year.

This event took place thanks to the Fresno Lightworkers, a group of like minded individuals that are dedicated to promoting and sharing a positive influence on the Fresno area (sometimes I think we really need it too). I’ve mentioned before they have a monthly psychic circle, but they also have monthly meetings where they discuss anything paranormal or metaphysical related. They have a Meetup page and you can go here for more information on their next meeting.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Walnut Girl of Armona

Through the trees
The ghost of a young girl is said to wander through walnut orchards in Armona,
similar to these. Photo courtesy of boboroshi from Flickr

Note: I had originally written about the Walnut Girl when I first started Weird Fresno. I decided to revisit the story as I had found a new part of it and wanted to share it and the original with those who may not have read it the first time.

In the small California town of Armona, there is a legend of a nine year old girl that met a tragic end and her restless ghost haunts the area to this day. Sometime in the nineteenth century the girl and a few of her friends were skinny dipping at a local waterhole outside of town. A group of boys showed up and threatened to come into the water after them. Most of the girls ran into a nearby walnut orchard before the boys could get them. One little girl was to scared to follow the other girls and instead she dove underwater to try and trick the boys into thinking she too had followed the other girls. Unfortunately the poor girl drowned.

Legend says the restless spirit has roamed the area for years. The townsfolk named her the Walnut Girl because she was always seen in locations that contained walnuts (orchards and packing plants mostly). No male has ever seen the ghost, but stories say that girls around the same age as she were most likely to see her.

While researching this legend I came across a first hand account from a woman who saw the ghost of the girl in the old Armona Southern Pacific Depot. The Depot itself was built in 1931 and was used for several decades before it was abandoned and today stands derelict. According to the witness strange events would happen there such as strange lights at night, compass spinning around and not pointing towards north and whenever a photo was taken there would be bright spots on the pictures.

The witness continues to state that when she was about nine years of age she snuck out and went to the depot late one night. She was shining her flashlight around when the light fell on a girl similar in age to her with a Victorian hairstyle and completely nude. Startled she dropped the flashlight. When she picked it up again the girl was gone.

She later told her mother about the encounter. Her mother said she had seen the same little girl in an orchard when she was a child herself and others had seen the ghosts, always nude and usually near a large concentration of walnuts. The story the mother had been told was the same story that I initially found, but added this interesting tidbit. Apparently the ghost of the little girl has a vendetta against boys as the witness said several boys in her neighborhood suffered “ill fortune” that was attributed to her. Whether this is true or not is hard to say, but the fact that two women both saw the same ghost leads me to think that this legend may have some truth to it.

But why does her restless spirit only haunt walnut orchards? Perhaps she thinks if she can get to an orchard she will be safe from the boys she still thinks are chasing her. This is obvious as she will only appear to girls near her age. It appears even in the afterlife she is still looking for safety.