Thursday 28 October 2010

Until It Happens To You: My Paranormal Experiences

Jared Woods Paranormal Activity
None of this story is made up.

Fuck, I love Halloween. It’s the only day that, in my opinion, we can properly celebrate our creativity and imagination in the areas of evil and fear. I dig the idea of promoting mischief from the hands of little children disguised as monsters, knocking on stranger’s doors begging for candy. There is something exciting and a little twisted about all of this, and that’s what my life is all about personally.

The origins and reasons why we enjoy this holiday are interesting enough. This was the day that the Celtics believed the border between the living and the dead became thin, which allowed spirits to cross over and visit us. Some viewed this as a good way to make passed loved ones feel missed, while others viewed it as a dark doorway for harmful entities to cause trouble. In fact, this is why we dress up today. The tradition of wearing scary clothing on this celebration was meant to protect and ward off the evils, although I find the children themselves to be much scarier.

A while ago, my internet-friend Erin asked me on formspring if I had experienced any paranormal activity in my short lifetime. As I began to answer this, I realised a story with this many details could not be lost on a page filled with what is usually pointless tongue-and-cheek answers. So instead, I saved it for this very day, my way of starting off your 2010 Halloween weekend with love.

I have told a handful of people this story before, and reactions vary. If you don’t believe in the paranormal, this won’t be the story to convince you. Many skeptics have been quick to point out logical explanations to all of the pieces I am about to tell you, and I don’t disregard this, I am not here to promote these ideas at all. I am not going to even go so far as to say that I believe in ghosts and demons and other such unexplainable entities, because I don’t know. What I am here to tell you about is a bunch of shit that freaked me out. I can't justify calling these paranormal experiences except that nothing about this felt normal whatsoever. If you want to email me and tell me that I am making a big deal out of nothing, by all means go ahead, but this blog is not written for you. Because without a doubt, those who do believe in the paranormal and/or have had experiences themselves will definitely enjoy this more. And no matter what your stance, something bad is going to happen to you very soon.

I am also taking a huge risk here, because every time I tell this story, my life get effected. I haven’t dabbled in these thoughts since I have arrived in London, so I am hoping that I am not inviting things in that I shouldn’t be. I will keep you updated if things go strange, and if I die mysteriously, you know why. Haha, just joking, I’m immortal.

I guess my mind became heavily curious when I was around 10 years old or so. I went on holiday with the family of a friend. He and his sister were allowed to bring one person along, and we all shared a room. His sister and her friend were much older than us, super hot, and proceeded to tell us that they were witches and had many experiences with spirits. That midnight they took us to a graveyard where we casually and calmly walked around, and we found this black cat who followed us all the way home. Nothing about this was weird or scary, it was fun and I felt safe with these two girls. Once home, we made a circle where they claimed to contact the dead and continued to hum in unison and say very peculiar things. I will be the first to brush this off as mass-hysteria, but the room felt very fucking weird. Everyone’s faces were changing to the point that I couldn’t tell who looked like a boy and who looked like a girl. The most stand-out occurrence was when something invisible began to pull on my face, and I freaked out and started crying. It didn't take long until everyone was crying, it just all felt really out of place. I look back on this not so much as a paranormal experience, but more the moment that I began to become very interested with the idea of the unknown and making contact with the dead.

After this, I dabbled in a bit of witchcraft myself, and cast a few successful spells. As time has gone on, I believe that spells are the same as prayers are the same as The Law Of Attraction. It’s putting your focus on something you want, getting your emotions in tune with it, and then manifesting it into your life. But it just shows where I was in my thought process and my interests at that age, and what path I was heading down.

This story only starts now.

Ouija Boards are Dangerous On Halloween
I must have been 15 years old or so. I was dating a lovely lovely girl at the time, and I used to go to her place often to get stoned, eat her food and have sex with her. Her parents were hardly ever there, which was the ideal situation for any early teen trying to experience things he was told not to. She had two brothers who I loved the company of, and this whole period of my life was something I remember with fondness. One day, this girl and I began to talk about the paranormal, and she pulled out this old and very stylish Ouija board from under her bed. It was wonderful looking and beautifully crafted, and we would play it a lot, more often than not with her brothers and their friends.

Believe it or not, Ouija boards are very fucking powerful things. People are quick to debunk the tool, but when you consider that the first example found was in China around 1100 B.C., it’s hard to imagine that well over 3000 years have passed and yet no one can still completely explain it. People all around the world still swear by it’s authenticity, I have proven it many times to people, and can prove it to you. I do this often by setting one up and getting the person who I am playing with to ask the board a question only they would know the answer to. Maybe like “What is my mother’s maidens name?” or “What is my Gmail password?”. The Ouija board will tell them, which would mean that either they are pushing it around despite wanting to disprove it, or there is actually something there.

It’s a nifty seemingly harmless pass-time, but they are in reality very dangerous. If you do a bit of research you will find that almost anyone who has played the board regularly has advised others that it isn’t a good idea. And that is exactly what this story is about.

Ouija boards are interesting in the way that the more you play, especially as a team, the faster and more articulate it becomes. It didn’t take long before full sentences were flashing before our eyes as fast as we could read them, telling us how we would one day die and who we would one day marry (although as any player knows, spirits have as much ability to lie and exaggerate as any alive person would). And as it is often documented, there was a point where one spirit had grown quite attached to us. He introduced himself as Pion and seemed to really enjoy messing with us, quick to answer our questions with his seemingly logical predictions. Everytime we started a new session, in would come Pion with his opinions of our lives and life in general.

One particular day, the group of us were playing the board in the attic of my girlfriend’s house. For some reason, she was sitting this round out, and the boys were asking stupid boy questions, as we do. One of the oh-so-mature questions we asked, and the question that heavily influenced my life for sometime to come, was “is anybody in this room bisexual?”. The planchette slid over and highlighted “Yes” and there were many giggles all around. Naturally, we asked “Who?” and Pion proceeded to spell out my girfriend’s name. Despite this probably being true, this really pissed her off and so she abruptly ran over to the board and kicked it, the glass planchette sliding far away from the board and everything slipping from underneath our fingers.

This is a very bad thing. The number 1 rule about the Ouija board is to never play alone. The number 2 rule is that if you ever decide to play (don’t) you must NEVER lift your fingers up until the spirit has said goodbye to you. The reason is that it supposedly damages the spirit’s spirit as it were, and this upsets them greatly. You don’t want that.

We frantically scrambled the pieces back together and apologised profusely, but it was all wrong. It began to spell out “B-A-D-M-I-S-T-A-K-E-B-A-D-M-I-S-T-A-K-E-B-A-D-M-I-S-T-A-K-E” over and over. Eventually it began to threaten us, warning my girlfriend that something very bad was going to happen to her. It also began to tell us how it was fetching all of it’s demon friends, calling them by their first names, claiming that they were filling up the room. Needless to say we were shitting ourselves, and as much as we begged it to say Goodbye, it wouldn’t.

After some time we managed to calm everything back down to a decent level of communication and we slowly continued to talk to Pion about less and less serious things. But man, I was spooked, and pretty soon Pion noticed.

Libra from Satan
How the Ouija board works is that you have a finger or two from your one hand on the planchette which slides around spelling out the words. Your other hand rests on the board itself, on top of your labeled star-sign. Pion, sensing my discomfort, spelt out “What’s the matter Libra?” and then slid right up to my star-sign actually bumping my fingers as if to get my attention. I told him I didn’t like what he was saying about my girlfriend. He asked “What do you like about her?”. I explained that she was lovely, I had feelings for her and I thought she was very pretty. And that’s when he said “Look at her so I can see her”. Of this entire story, that is the part that always stood out the most. To this day I still can’t find any other reports that these spirits are actually seeing through our eyes when we talk to them, but that is exactly what this spirit was saying. It was a huge moment in my understanding of how it all works.

After some time we convinced Pion to leave us alone, and we packed it up. It was then we noticed my girlfriend was missing, so we ran around the entire property screaming her name trying to find her. It was panic to the point of tears. Eventually we found her hiding in her Dad’s workshop, but we were all so convinced that something really bad had happened to her, that we got rid of the board and it was never played on again.

You would think this would be enough to stop me, but it wasn’t. And luckily/unluckily for me, the one guy we played with a lot felt the same. So without telling anyone, we constructed a crude Ouija board out of cardboard and continued to play this in my room for months. It worked pretty well, it wasn’t quite the same, but we continued to get a decent amount of communication from the spirits. Even Pion visited us once or twice. It was here that we were told that everyone was on a level when it came to connecting with the dead. We were a 7 at that point, and the more we played, the higher we got. We were told that once we reached 10, the spirit could make us float, which is obviously a level that we never got to, but on occasion we would level-up and it would be extremely exciting. In hind-sight, this was probably total bollocks, just the Spirit’s way to encourage us to play more and more Ouija board everyday - and it worked. My mom even knew about it. I can guarantee you that this over-indulgence is what fucked it all up.

Over this time, my room had become a cold place. It was very damp anyway, mold was growing on the walls and I would often find snails or worms or other creatures trying to make a home there. So it wasn’t a sunshine kind of habitat, and reflects how messed up and depressed my life was at that point in time anyway.

But more than anything, it was how it felt in there. It had a very dark and tingling feeling to it and I never quite felt like I was alone. Now, I know I can’t completely attribute this to some paranormal activity, people are quick to point this out. And when I look back, maybe you are right. But what I know is that there was a very distinct vibe in there for whatever reason. I could never explain this to you properly as no one can ever explain a feeling anyway, but it just felt fucking wrong. Believe me, it did.

However, odd things would happen. I would hear noises all through the night. It sounded like things were constantly outside my window - a point proven when people actually did break into my house when I was awake, but I ignored it because I was so used to the noise. My computer was quite effected as well, documents would remove data, sometimes full files would disappear. One of the more interesting things was that randomly, almost once a week, my printer would print a tiny smiley face. You never knew when, but suddenly my printer would start up and print this minute smiley webding. Of course, this to me was a good sign, that whatever was doing this was at least on a happy vibe. These events can be explained by many other reasons, and go ahead and do that, but from where I was standing it was very eerie.

What sealed it for me was when my one friend was visiting. His parents are both very much into the spiritual scene, his mom selling natural medicines and practicing alternative healing as her occupation, and his Dad being one of the forefront South African hypnotists, exorcists, channels and many other paranormal things. My friend had been exposed to this lifestyle since he was born, had good knowledge about all of it, and was drinking beer with me in my lounge. After a while of good laughter, he needed to piss and went to my room to do so. He came out with a very different look on his face. “There’s an entity in your room Jared, did you know this?”. I laughed, and told him that it was a friendly ghost, surely, and explained the printer story. He didn’t dig it and refused to go into my room ever again. I didn’t take it to heart, but that was definitely the point that confirmed it for me.

Linda Blair From The Exorcist
Now, it wouldn’t be like me to stop there. No, I was onto something and I wanted more. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why I wanted to provoke it the way I did, but I guess I enjoyed my already exaggerated reputation as “that evil weird boy from Pinelands” and I wanted to push it. So I bought a giant poster of Linda Blair from the scene in The Exorcist where her head is backwards - exactly like the picture to the right. I had no fear and put it on the wall above my bed, which obviously was designed to make any visitor feel very uneasy.

Two nights after I had put it up, I went to bed, and literally the second I fell asleep, I felt these evil arms come around my back and hang onto me with all their might. The presence of evil was all over me and I was fighting the best I could, completely in blindness. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but what it seemed like was that I was almost asleep, but this thing wanted me to stay awake, restraining me in some kind of mid-point.

I woke up in a panic. And above my head I could hear the Exorcist poster slowly peeling off of the wall. It was stuck there with Blu-Tack (Prestik as we call it in SA), but it sounded more like someone had stuck a piece of masking tape to the wall, and were slowly removing it. Like a sticky hissing. I freaked, jumped up, ripped the poster down and threw it on the floor. I then went back to sleep.

The next morning the poster was still on the floor, so I was definitely awake for that noise.

In 2007 I moved house 6 times. They say that moving home does not guarantee you will loose your follower, but there are reports that it does make it easier, and at some point I had definitely lost it. I had also moved on with my life. I was far more into other things and so I wasn’t so prone to allowing it into my experiences. They say that by giving it thought and attention, it becomes stronger, which is why it had left me alone at that time. And which is also why I was so reluctant to write this blog in the first place.

And then in an act of complete stupidity, around Halloween 2007 (exactly 3 years ago), I decided I wanted to have a freaky one. I began to read reports on the internets all about people and their paranormal experiences. The one really stood out for me was of a girl who went so far as to even having sexual contact with a spirit. She had multiple different beings contacting her through various methods, some urging her to continue having sex with this one specific entity, others warning her against it, all of them lying and tricking her into different acts. Eventually they were talking to her constantly throughout her day, narrating her life until she actually had to go to an institution for a while. I don’t know why, but this story seemed to open up the gates of my mind a bit, and I was there with open arms. I was trying to get this shit back into my life because so much time had passed that I had begun to doubt my own experiences. It didn’t take long before I definitely felt a presence anywhere I went. It’s difficult to explain but it feels like someone is permanently staring at you, as cliche as that sounds. I always feel it in my back, like a constant borderline chill. It looked like I was going to get my freaky Halloween after all.

A couple days into my stirring, I was driving up to my apartment in Kenilworth and pulled into my parking space. There sitting at the end of it, blocking me from parking properly, was an old African drum. It was full of dirt, very wide but short and looked ancient. I was stoked and didn’t think twice about it. I happily took the drum back into my apartment and sat it in my hallway, chuffed with my new toy.

Sleep Paralysis on Halloween
That night I woke up with Sleep Paralysis. I have had this a few times, and I’m sure some of you have too. It’s when you are fully awake in your bed, but you can’t move at all. Even breathing is hard and it takes a few minutes before you can start to move certain parts of your body until you are back in control. In folklore it was believed that a witch is sitting on your chest which would explain why you can’t move, but modern day belief is that it’s more to do with stress or sudden lifestyle changes.

Regardless, this time was very different. I felt a presence all over my room, definitely as if something was hanging over me. I could hear my housemate talking to his friend in the next room and I tried so hard to scream for them to help me, but couldn’t get a word out. And the freakiest part of all is that the drum was playing itself, a slow timeless beat coming from the hallway. There I was, completely paralysed with all this mass noise going on around me in complete panic, and I don’t remember what happened next.

The next day I went to work and phoned my housemate to tell him what had happened. And he said “That’s weird man, I wasn’t even home last night”.

That evening I went to visit my sister and had pretty much written the whole thing off as another weird dream. That’s when I got a phone call from my housemate telling me that he had locked his keys in his car and needed me to come and open the door for him to get his spares. Angrily, I went and picked him up at some pub and we drove to the house. We put my keys in the door but they wouldn’t turn. There was nothing we could do, we tried and we tried, but the door just wouldn’t budge. It was as if something was holding the lock from the inside. I didn’t think much of it, I was too irritated, so we decided we had no choice but to go back and get my housemate's keys from his car.

We drove back to it and found a homeless man who obviously had some kind of experience with breaking into cars. He came with a wire and began trying to open the car door. Casually while he was doing this, we told him how we couldn’t open the door of our house and how weird it was. This complete stranger turned to us with fear in his eyes and said “There is something in your house. You guys better be careful”. The night before rushed back to me, and I was like “Shit dude, the drum!” and my housemate suddenly realised what might be going on.

We got into the car, drove back to the house, and just like before, his keys would not turn. So it couldn’t have been the keys themselves, but still meant that maybe the lock was fucked. We had no choice, we smashed a window and climbed in. We went around to the door and it was just as it had always been. We turned the lock, and from the inside, it opened easily. Nothing was wrong with it. We tested the keys again, and suddenly they worked fine. For some reason, it had refused to turn from outside just that time. In fact, I lived in that house for almost 2 years, and it had never happened before or after.

Together we took that drum and threw it away. A big sense of relief breathed into me and I decided not to tell anyone the story. Although I have mentioned it since then once or twice, most of my close friends will be hearing about this for the first time. The reason being, of course, because I had to purposefully avoid giving the whole ordeal any attention and basically ignore it as much as fucking possible, which worked. It stopped bothering me pretty soon afterwards and I went on with my somewhat normal lifestyle.

And that's the end of my story, hope you liked it. If anything I learned that no matter what the hell was going on back there, it wasn’t pleasant, it wasn’t immediately explainable and it all seemed centered around moments I opened myself up to the experiences. It was enough to satisfy my curiosity and I will never go back to that place ever again. Of course there will always be critics, and all I can say to you lot is that no matter what you believe, if you were there, you would’ve shat bricks. Until it happens to you, you will never know. Go play Ouija board in a graveyard and I promise you your mind will do back-flips and you will cry to your mommy. Then write a blog about it, I dunno.

Finally I must just let you know that various times during the writing of this blog, I felt very weird. I compulsively saved my work because I had this feeling it was just going to disappear on me, I don't know why. It's hard to say if my mind was just playing tricks or not, but it was such a familiar feeling that a few times I considered scrapping the whole thing. At least I never have to tell this story again, I can just post the URL. God bless the internet, and Happy Halloween to all of you. Watch what happens now.

Thursday 21 October 2010

There's Just 5 Hours Left Until You Find Me Dead

Jared Woods' Tree Tattoo
It was my 26th birthday the previous Saturday. Best birthday week ever! Besides some sexual favours from friends, I got an awesome tattoo from a guy named Scab. He was Art-Pulpitations Artist Of The Month August 2009, definitely the best artist I know personally. It’s my first tatt and I am fucking happy with it, which is a relief. It’s not done, still needs shading, but you can see it to the left there. It’s rad, this dude is going to be huge man, I swear.

Besides this, we had a massive party to celebrate my quarter century passing and I hit new levels of fuckness. Seriously, I remember none of it, but have since heard I was drooling on myself and shouting obscene things to my friends. Apparently it was all filmed. I am finally almost back to normal.

But the best part of it all (and most relevant to you) was The Funpowder Plot. I took the week off of work, put my teeth to the grind and made the website. And finally on Friday it was launched, Juice Five, the first Juice in months. The write-up on The Juices section says it best, like this:

The most important thing you need to know about The Funpowder Plot is that this is not my project. I was reluctant to even called it a Juice at all, but I did anyway. No, this is a collaboration between myself and the most talented people I know, namely: Ammr Khalifa, Ashley Cooper, The Freewheelin’ Troubadour, Jonathan Loose van der Velden and Kris Cook. I am merely a cog in a machine that will eat your children and fuck your wife better than you ever could.

We make films. Films that we would want to watch, who cares what you lot think. These include music videos, mini-documentaries and shorts - to name a few. Rest assured, we have well over 10 ideas ready to explode at any given point, some of which we are busy giving birth to right now. Between us we can do anything, nurturing a passing brain idea until it bursts into one solid art form.

The Funpowder Plot
The idea of The Plot has been bouncing around since New Years 2010, and it took off much faster than anything I have ever been a part of before. We all live together, which helps speed up productivity and gives the house a very special vibe. At any given moment at any time of day we might pick away at a project for a few seconds and then go back to casual conversation, generally boring everyone around us. Our habitat is one big meeting point which never crosses the line of becoming too serious, and never sinking below the line of becoming a joke.

The name itself was a heavy process, weeks of drunken debating and painstaking voting after voting and email after email. We were close to calling it The Teenage Pregnancy Project, and even closer to calling it The Gravy Stroke, until we settled on the title of a song by Wild Beasts. Tony Blair had nothing to do with it. Our reasoning for choosing this moniker varies and it would take far too long to explain this to anyone as the symbolism and perfection of it continues to reveal itself daily.

The combination of our powers doesn’t need to convince you of shit, just look at how much we have done. And behind every great team, is an even greater team, and this is why The Funpowder Plot extends much deeper to any of our friends willing to get involved. Because of this beautiful concentration of friendship, it is unstoppable and will be a part of our lives that we can marvel over forever regardless of the outcome.

Our goal? Our goal is to have fun working with friends and producing professional works which impresses people and each other, humouring me greatly in the process. We really are still just kids with bigger dicks and a bunch of skills, no matter what our birth certificates say. But our dream? Well, our dream is the same as every one's dream: take over the world. Only difference is that we will.

This project is something I’ve always prayed for. It’s enough to make me believe in God. Keep your eye on our balls, you will see things you can never unsee.

Now obviously that sucked all my time away, but I am back on track. I haven’t answered a formspring question for way too long, no work on Coming Down Happy or The Autobiography. And my Twitter updates have been sub-par at best. The reason is that my real life became more interesting and emotionally testing for a while over there, but I feel like my priorities are straight and my quest for attention is back to it’s old self. Expect a new blog for Halloween you cunts!