Like many people, my interest in all things paranormal came from watching horror movies and reading comics as a kid. This obsession with the dark and unusual stayed with me into adulthood, developing into a more direct interest into the actuality of paranormal phenomena. Listening to late-night radio programs like Coast-to-Coast AM, Ground Zero Radio and Darkness Radio introduced me to the wide world of parapsychology and demonology studies.
Obviously, there's been an explosion of paranormal awareness in the last 10 years, fueled by movies and reality TV shows centered on hauntings and the professional teams that conduct field research. Surely, there's a lot of bunk that develops when there's an opportunity to cash-in on the spotlight, but that doesn't mean genuine paranormal phenomena isn't happening all the time. There are simply too many convincing cases that have been documented to write all of it off as a hoax.
Documentation being the key word. In order to collect convincing documentation of the many claims, teams of well-trained researchers are needed. I was recently made aware of just such a team from the great Northwest called, Oregon Paranormal. To celebrate Halloween here at Secret Transmissions, I reached out to OP's occult specialist and field researcher, Katie Montana Jordan to provide some insight into all things metaphysical and paranormal. What really interests me in her work is her dual path as a researcher and practicing Pagan occultist.
She speaks on all of that and a lot more in this interview, providing a really solid explanation of what its like to live a life confronting the unknown, looking for the answers in the darkest of corners.
ENJOY AND HAPPY SAMHAIN!
|Katie Montana Jordan|
What was your childhood like? What set the stage growing up for your interest in the paranormal?
My childhood was very different from what my life is like now. I grew up in a conservative, Christian, church-attending family. My Grandmothers would often talk about ghosts and unexplained experiences they had, but occultism and paganism were never ever discussed. I always felt an affinity for such topics, and would sneak literature on the paranormal. Any movies with ghosts or witches always scared the crap out of me because I was taught they were blasphemous, yet I was drawn to them. It was innate with me. What solidified setting the stage for my interest in the paranormal was one of my first personal paranormal experiences.
What was your first paranormal experience?
I’m not sure how old I was, maybe 6, when it began. I was harassed by a malevolent entity in the house in grew up in. It would appear to me and chase me around the house. My encounters with this particular entity more or less set me on the path I’m on today. I was scared of it, but I felt connected to it and I had to know more.
I often wonder if that entity was put on my path to spark my interest to ensure I’d wind up where I am now as an occultist, pagan and paranormal researcher. Or if I was already on my path, even as a little girl, and then perhaps brought the entity upon myself. I often explore how much of our experiences and abilities are fate or happenstance, and I apply this question at all times to my work.
Does your family support your path in life? Do they think it’s dangerous?
My family is supportive of my path in life and my life’s work. They don’t understand it, but they support my need to keep learning and growing. My work is dangerous at times, but I also have a massive and highly qualified paranormal community within my field that is always there for me. We in the Pacific Northwest have a vast resource in other paranormal research teams and independent consultants that we work with constantly. But at the top of that list are my amazing colleagues turned friends that make up my main organization, Oregon Paranormal, and my affiliate organization, Paranormal Research & Investigations.
You have some level of telepathic ability, is that correct?
I do exhibit telepathic abilities, as well as clairvoyance and sometimes psychometry. I wouldn’t go as far to publicly categorize myself as a telepathic or clairvoyant or psychometrist, however. I’m not a fan of specified labels and feel that allowing myself to be labeled is equivalent to allowing myself to be boxed in. I always need to feel like I have room to grow and change. I believe that everyone possesses parapsychological capabilities, some of us just know how to tap into them better.
Halloween is my Christmas. It’s my all-time favorite holiday. As a pagan, Halloween is the most revered sabbat. It’s called Samhain, the Harvest’s End, a Celtic tradition which modern day Halloween originates from.
Samhain is the beginning of the old Celtic new year, and the time of the year where Gaia, or Mother Earth, goes into self-preservation mode to prepare for the upcoming winter. And because Samhain is centered around darkness and death, it eventually became associated with ghosts. It is true that spirit communication between the bodied and disembodied is more viable this time of the year.
My theory behind this is: we know that we are made up of energy-and it’s been scientifically proven that energy can’t be destroyed-so parts of the Earth are dying off as winter approaches, and there’s all this extra energy that’s being emitted and transferred. With Gaia being so vulnerable right now, it makes the call for spirit communication this time of the year easier to answer for energies/spirits/ghosts.
How are you celebrating Halloween this year?
This year, we have a huge event that falls on Samhain weekend, the Port Gamble Ghost Conference in Washington. I’ll be there that Friday through Sunday, lecturing and teaching a class, but I blocked out the 31st just for myself. I usually don’t dress up or do Halloween parties. Samhain is my time to be alone and do some personal energy work. Both paganism and occultism are personal journeys. Both areas of academic practice and study are individualized and therefore self-interpretive. Samhain is a sabbat of reflection and personal furtherance, and to mimic Nature this time of year, it’s the time to shed what’s not wanted, to kill off what’s holding you back, to release in order to renew come spring.
When I moved to Oregon from Montana a couple of years ago, I was in touch with various local paranormal agencies. I had discovered one person in particular, whom upon getting to know him more, had experienced almost exactly what I had as a child. This gentleman had also been stalked by a similar malevolent entity when he was a little, but in another state. I felt this was validation that I was connecting with the right person, and it was he who introduced me to Casey Goodwin of Oregon Paranormal. From what I remember, the conversation wasn’t even Casey asking me if I was interested in joining the team, it was more, ‘Okay, you’re a part of the team now. We have an investigation next week and you’re coming.’ And it was Casey who introduced me to Michael White of Paranormal Research & Investigations.
What sorts of skills, talents or background makes you qualified to do what you do?
In my mind, because energies/spirits/ghosts are earthbound, meaning we’re having interactions with them here in our environment, the study of the paranormal is subtopic to the studies of theology and spirituality. I am formally schooled in theology and philosophy, and am both an ordained minister and pagan priestess. Along the way, I also have been studying and practicing occultism, as well as the many different facets of occultism, such as Shamanism, the Craft and Satanism. As a member of technology-based research teams such as Oregon Paranormal and Paranormal Research & Investigations, I am able to apply more scientific methods with our investigative work, and as an independent consultant (working one-on-one with a specific person or group), I am able to apply more metaphysical investigative methods. So I have the best of both worlds.
My goal as a researcher who utilizes both the scientific and parapsychological, is to continue to better marry both investigative approaches. Both are significant and relevant in furthering the field of paranormal and theological research.
This is an excellent question. My answer is that everyone does experience paranormal activity, whether they realize it or not. And if it’s not necessarily “paranormal” activity, then it’s something within the realm, such as supernatural or parapsychological. As I’m not a fan of labels, I’m also not big on certain terminology. The word “magic” is one term I don’t favor because it’s been twisted to be associated with evilness or illusion, and both are incorrect. When I say magic, I’m talking about the intricacies and synchronicities that happen to all of us, everywhere, all the time. In this sense, magic does exist, and I think the more people learn to tap into their own energies, they will be more open to paranormal activity.
What is your view on the distinctions between ghost, poltergeist and demonic entities?
A ghost is a human that has transitioned, a disembodied person, who typically still possesses the same humanistic personality as when they were embodied. A poltergeist, in my experience, has two separate distinctions: one is the traditional notion of a poltergeist, a mischievous entity that is correlated with being physical and causing harm. The other is something we see more and more of, and that’s a self-created poltergeist, which falls into the realm of supernatural and not necessarily paranormal.
Parapsychologically speaking, a self-created poltergeist is essentially self energy that is being outwardly utilized, and almost always unbeknownst to the person. The definition of a demon is changing, too. My problem with the term “demon” is that it has too many religious connotations, which is why a subscribed belief in demonology raises such strong emotional reactions.
A “demon,” and consequently, what’s considered “evil,” is self-interpretive. As a pagan, I recognize the duality in Nature. As a paranormal researcher, I have yet to come across what we would categorize as a demon.
Some version of soul attachment has been recorded in pretty much every culture, and because I’m a writer, I’m wired to lean more towards the probabilities that have been documented through lore and literature. Soul attachment is typically when the energy/essence/spirit of one person leaves their deceased body and enters the body of someone living. We know that energies scientifically alter and transfer, so it seems probable that a soul might rightfully attach itself to someone or something else. As a pagan, I believe in a notion of solidarity: that we’re connected to each other and to the Earth. However, as a paranormal researcher, it’s my job to remain unbiased and healthily skeptical. When I’m working a case, the opinion that matters the most is the client’s. When it comes to casework, OP exists to: 1) aid the client, to answer questions and offer solutions and 2) to document data to forward the field of parapsychological and paranormal research.
What is the scariest encounter you’ve ever experienced? Do you ever get freaked out on a case?
My version of what’s scary has changed so much in the last ten years. It takes a lot to jolt me these days. When I’m doing personal energy work, it’s easier to get more jolted, but when I’m working a case, I’m too busy examining and questioning every little instance that I don’t really have time to get scared. Sure, I’ve gotten a bit freaked out from time to time, but it’s always more being shocked than being scared. Plus, fright rarely overcomes you when you work with people you trust. Although, the scariest encounter I’ve ever had was just a couple years ago.
I wasn’t on an investigation, I was home in bed. I was jolted up with a pair of hands around my neck, but they were cut off at the wrists. No arms, no person attached to them.
Upon discussing what happened with a colleague and professional psychic, I was told that the hands belonged to someone I had known in a previous life.
What do you believe about the afterlife?
For me, I want to believe that the afterlife is what you make it. As we create the lives we want for ourselves in our embodied state, why wouldn’t it be the same for when we’re disembodied? I think the human psyche is more powerful than we give it credit, and that theologically, anything is possible.
Can you describe how Oregon Paranormal approaches field research?
OP is a research based organization that utilizes technological and parapsychological advancements. We apply and experiment with all tenets of paranormal investigation, ranging from scientific to metaphysical. For me, both avenues of paranormal research are relevant. As paranormal researchers, we are in the line of work to collect data to determine an existence of ghosts, and therefore an afterlife. In my opinion, not applying metaphysics (the relationship one has with the self and their environment) to the field is nonsensical. So many paranormal researchers say there’s no room for the metaphysical within the field, but that mindset is dangerous and deterring of spiritual progressiveness. Better marrying scientific and psychical investigative applications are a necessity.
What do you consider compelling evidence for paranormal activity?
Compelling evidence for paranormal activity is something that is documented and cross-referenced. For example, picking up something from two or more different devices, ideally, something on visual that correlates with something on audio. However, I also have found that the best instrument a paranormal researcher can utilize is the self: their body and senses. Our bodies are outstanding vessels, and our minds, even greater. Always listen to your body and trust your instincts. Personal experiences are key in paranormal research, and collaborating them to scientific data is compelling possible evidence.What’s the weirdest or most unusual claim made to you by a client?
We’ve gotten calls and emails on every possible imaginable claim. I am OP’s Occult Specialist, but I’m also our Client Relations Consultant. That means once Casey screens our calls and emails (he goes through them to decipher which claims may be more crucial or time-sensitive than others), he informs me on who to contact. As the Client Relations Consultant, I am the first direct communication our potential client has within our organization. It’s my job to listen and validate, then I take my notes to the rest of the team, where we decide if the claim is something we want to move forward with or not. If yes, then I set a meet and greet, what we also call a witness interview. Upon meeting the potential client and staking out the location of the claimed paranormal activity, it’s then that we decide if the situation warrants a full-scale investigation or not. We try to call everyone back and at least assist in answering questions. If we feel we cannot meet the need of the potential client, we refer them to another team that we feel would better suit their requests.
Absolutely none. Movies, and especially TV shows based on paranormal encounters, are more often than not grossly inaccurate, and an insult to those of us actually in the field. Do not believe what you see on the screen. Don’t even believe everything you read online. Self education is the most conducive education. Read books on all things parapsychological and paranormal, ranging from the older literature of the founding researchers in the field, to the newest advancements on technological equipment. Attend local paranormal conferences and classes. Find your own truths.
While it seems like a lot of fun to work as a paranormal investigator, what about it can make it a tough career to have?
It’s so much fun. As both a writer and a researcher, I’m able to go work in the field then come home and write about it. I’m very fortunate to roll the two things I love most into one. Like with any job, the life of a paranormal researcher can be challenging, such as late nights, travel, dangerous working conditions, the monotony of data review. But it’s also pretty incredible. Being invited into someone’s house and to have them trust you enough to share with you their scary and intimate secrets is extremely humbling. We’ve met amazing people along the way and we learn from them just as much as they learn from us. But we don’t just hold private investigations. We also contribute to conferences as lecturers and teachers, we also hold events and public investigations. We are very involved within our paranormal community and any challenges we face are far outweighed by all our privileges and ongoing experiences and education. For me, being a paranormal researcher isn’t a job. It’s life.
|Katie Jordan Montana|
Each member of our organization has their own distinct background and speciality, which is what makes OP so well-rounded. We are able to come together as a singular unit, but look at a situation through many different lenses. As OP’s Occult Specialist, I have my background in occultism. I apply my occult lenses when needed for cases that have to do with anything occult-related. Examples of that can range from Ouija board experiences to claims of demonic activity.
How did you come to be a specialist in the occult? How would you characterize your expertise in that field?
I have had an affinity for occultism since I was a littler girl. I have actively been studying occultism and its many facets for about thirty years. My interest in it grew from merely reading about it to physically applying it. Now, as a practicing occultist, I am able to apply my personal background within my professional field. My areas of speciality within occultism are paganism, utilizing energy-working tools (what I call Ouija boards and Tarot cards, any objects that can be used to empower and manipulate energies), the Craft and Satanism.
As an aspiring theologian, it’s academically sound to explore all areas of theological study. Both fields of parapsychology and the paranormal are categorized under the study of psi-sciences, with occultism being subtopic to both. It’s all related.
Occultism is the study of all things supernatural, mystical and magical. and some say ghosts themselves fall into one or all of these categories. Occultism is taken from the Latin term “ocultus,” which is directly translated into “hidden or secret knowledge.” The question of whether or not ghosts and an afterlife exist, as well as the whole of the paranormal field, therefore, is directly tied into occultism.My understanding is that there are dark occultists and light occultists. Without implying the typical Left Hand versus Right Hand separation but in terms of the motive of individuals. The occult is something that can be harnessed for personal growth or it can be exploited for greed or negativity, etc. What does your research show you?
Yes, there is both dark and light, but in honorum of Gaia/Mother Earth, both are equally significant. Just because something is “dark,” it doesn’t imply that it’s bad nor evil. From my pagan perspective, and to mimic Gaia, duality is necessary for survival. With life must come death, with light must come dark. And that is what’s so beautiful about this time of the year as Samhain approaches.
As the Earth goes into self-preservation mode with the seasonal change, so is it a beneficial time to honor the dark: the actual darkness, the night time, death and transition, and mostly, the personal darkness that we all have inside of us.
As creations of a dual Nature, our darkness must be just as honored and nurtured as our lightness. The dark is to be respected and not feared.
You are currently working towards a PhD in holistic theology. Tell us a little about what that means and how you intend to apply it to your work.
I didn’t want to extend my college education of formal theology on a graduate level because it’s mainly based on pastoral work. In which case, theology is no longer the study of theos, but becomes a study of institutionalized religion, specifically, Christianity. Holistic theology is what the title implies, a more organic, global academic outlook into all theologies, not just one. Holistic theology is pantheistic and universally spiritual. I intend to continue to apply holistic theology to both my writing and my paranormal work as a means to better understand reality, spirituality and authenticity.
Satanism is a system of thought that rebels against institutionalized dogma and religions. Founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, the Church of Satan does not consider itself a religion, nor do Satanists worship Satan. The name was chosen to symbolize the biblical fallen angel, of whom exercised his own free will and left a hierarchy that was deterring his spiritual growth. Such is the tenet of Satanism: to be free. Free to self-love, free to carve your own spiritual path, and free to be your own being of existence. For Satanists, Satan is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism.
Satanism is relevant because it shows that humans are becoming more spiritually evolved in that they’re recognizing we no longer need a “god.” We are seeing, through scientific and archaeological discoveries, that the Christian Bible consists of blatant inaccuracies. Archaically, people needed a god to explain the seasons and natural disasters. We are at a very exciting point now in spiritual evolution where people are questioning whether an archaic god, and therefore his religions, are even necessary anymore. Satanism promotes free thought, humanistic personification of the self, and a realistic love that is not bordered inside church walls.
What are some influences that inspire your work?
As both a writer and pagan, I’ve been deeply affected by the intellectualism and individualism of the Romantic Era. Romanticism, which took place in Britain near the end of the 1800s, was a scandalous radical movement in which painters, musicians and writers set out to defy the norm and started creating more liberating art. This art was dark, emitting literature like Frankenstein and Dracula. It was also an attack on institutionalized religion in that the Romantic poets rejected the confines of Christianity and wrote about worshipping Nature. The Romantics were free thinkers and dark pagans.
We are always working on cases and I’m always working on writing projects. Presently, I am contributor to a few different publications, and I have a novel in the works. My biggest project right now is preparing for our next big event, the Port Gamble Ghost Conference, October 28-30th. My lecture is titled, Samhain: The Pagan History of Halloween, and my class is on the misconceptions and applications of the Ouija board. As for the new year, I’m pleased to share that I’ll have a lot of new material coming out and that I’ll be making announcements after the new year.