Paracon 2014 – Meet the Speakers; UFOs with Damien Nott

Photo courtesy of Paracon 2014

Photo courtesy of Paracon 2014

As early as 400BC humans have been looking into the above and marvelling at the many strange sights and happenings that would light up the night sky. These happenings were usually thought of as messages from the gods, ancestors or spiritual portents – an example being Halley’s Comet, which was first spied by Chinese astronomers in 240BC.

We know now that is it merely a large ball of space debris travelling around the universe at goodness-knows how many kilometres a second, but at the time it was a UFO.

That’s right. One of the first UFO sightings was over 2000 years ago.

UFO’s have been something that have featured in pop culture and sci-fi media for decades, but they are by no means a ‘new’ thing. Scholars have even noted a similarity between some religious symbols and UFO reports, meaning that the phenomena may be more tightly entwined in human anthropology than you may think.

This – of course – is hotly contested; how can you draw the line between an angelic object (i.e. nativity star) appearing in the sky and an alien/cross dimensional aircraft being depicted in Sebastiano Mainardi’s ‘Madonna Col Bambino E San Giovannino’?

(More on that particular painting here)

We don’t know, and cannot identify the object in Mainardi’s painting any more than we can identify what is in the pictures of hundreds of people every year that capture UFO’s on film or still camera.

After all, that is the nature of UFO’s; they are unidentified flying objects… emphasis on the ‘unidentified’ 😉

One of the UFO experts speaking at Paracon this weekend is Damien Nott, who has been tracking UFO sightings and capturing them on film ever since his first experience at the age of nine.

Damien was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in the lead-up to his talk at Paracon, where he will be showcasing footage that he has captured of UFO’s seen on his travels.

————————————————————————————

How did you first get into capturing UFO phenomena?

It all started for me when I was just 9.

On a Sunday evening just before dusk I was on my way back from my friends place to my home in Sydney’s western suburbs, when I looked up for some reason to witness a small glowing red ball keeping pace with me.

It kind of scared but also amazed me at the same time.

The object mimicked my movements for about 3 minutes and followed me through a park that ran between the back fences of homes. When I decided to run I never looked back up again and when I made it back home my mother said that “it was probably just an aeroplane”.

This is what started a life-long quest for me, even at that age I knew that I had seen something amazing. All I could read after that was anything to do with UFOs, case reports and anything on the subject to just try and help me answer the question to what I had seen. After this – and all the way until now in my adult life at the age of 35 – I have had encounters with these strange objects of various shapes and sizes.

You’ve managed to capture a large amount of objects over a variety of environments; bush, plains and urban landscapes. In fact pretty much wherever you go these unexplained objects tend to appear. What are your thoughts on this? Is it just the fact that most people aren’t looking hard enough? Or do you feel that these UFO phenomena are somehow following your travels?

There is a definite ‘high strangeness’ factor to this enigmatic phenomena […] and when you think you have the answer something happens to throw a curveball into the mix.

My thoughts are that they do seem selective on who they show themselves to on a regular basis, [and] for whatever reason that may be out of the grasp of human understanding. Although on the other hand as humans, we rarely tend to look up at the sky as we go about day to day life. So it would be conceivable that we would miss a lot of what is happening up there.

I have been with people who have seen the same UFO but it appears different to them; and on the other hand I have seen UFOs in front of others before they appear visually and on film.

I would love to see kids and adults get away from their video games and television for just five minutes a night and go out and have a look up at the stars… you never know what you may see.

Most people would automatically assume that a UFO is an extra-terrestrial spacecraft, but that may not always be the case. What kind of UFO phenomena have been sighted/are out there? Or what are some of the more common sightings that you have seen when skywatching?

UFO means just that; an unidentified [flying] object.

Over the years I have seen many people associate this with aliens and little green men which of course is just a sad stigma that the subject has picked up.

Most sightings are proven to be misidentifications of aircraft bolides and a number of atmospheric and weather phenomena such as ball lighting etc. The small percentage that remain are still unidentified and therefore deserve further scrutiny and warrant a proper scientific investigation.

Since starting up AAPI (Australian Aerial Phenomena Investigations) in 2013 we have had some great success in documenting some amazing sightings that we have had all around N.S.W. We have caught all types of objects flying through the skies some using high speed photography and some in full HD video, a number with multiple witnesses.

From glowing red white orange and yellow spheres of all sizes to metallic craft that can shapeshift and morph; we have seen a lot.

How do you attempt to catagorise what you’ve seen and form a hypothesis on whether it was a craft, a being, a light anomaly or even a tear in space?

I have categorized my sightings in terms of names given that describes their actions or looks, such as a flasher or coloured sphere.

The flasher is an object that during a nightwatch will give off a bright flash from one part of the sky and then disappear again only to give off another flash at another part of the sky.

During invisibility to the naked eye they can sometimes still be tracked with night-vision equipment moving erratically through the sky.

Other UFOs include morphing, glowing, barbell shaped objects that split in two. Then there are the old fashioned disc style objects but they are extremely rare now days. The phenomena seems to be progressing along with the human race as now we are seeing more sophisticated type light craft compared to the old days when man was seeing flying blimp-type objects up in the sky.

There is such a large amount of debate and ridicule around the subject of UFOs, especially the appearance of the beings known as ‘Greys’. Why do you feel it is seen as outlandish to believe in extraterrestrials and UFO phenomena?

I would say that the subject is ridiculed still because it is a human tendency to make light of something they don’t understand; Hollywood movies and untruths from world leaders about the validity of the subject have not helped either.

Today it seems as though the more people you speak to the more stories you hear about amazing sightings had by them, so it does seem that the general public are warming to the idea more than ever before.

Also with the advent of the internet, we know and are in touch with every sighting around the world within minutes. With all of that, it does not take a scientist to see that there is something very strange that is happening in our skies and to our people.

———————————————————————–

If you would like a sneak look at some of Damien’s work you can swing past his Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/damienjohnnott or visit him on Youtube; https://www.youtube.com/user/Knightoftruth79.

Post-Paracon, keep your eyes peeled for the local production ‘Beyond the Spectrum’ being made by Darcy Weir and Jose Escimillia, which will feature a number of pieces of footage of UFOs from around Australia.

Before then, however, make sure you take the chance to pick up a weekend pass to Paracon to catch all of our speakers talking on a range of matters both paranormal and spiritual. Tickets are still available from http://www.paraconaustralia.com/.

In the meantime, keep looking skyward and live long and prosper! J

Advertisements

Paracon 2014 – Meet the Speakers; Legend Tripping with Jeff Belanger

Let me tell you about one of the scariest experiences of my life.

I was about 8 or 9 years old and in grade 3. It was lunchtime and the concrete veranda walkways past the years three and four classrooms were deserted except for my two schoolmates, who waited diligently outside the forbidden seniors toilets that I had snuck into.

I had been given a challenge; say Bloody Mary in the seniors toilets at lunchtime and I could sit with them at lunchtime.

Yes. This was a big thing to 8-year-old me.

So there I was, standing with my nose almost touching the polished steel of what passed as a mirror in a public school and trying to speak as softly as I could as if Bloody Mary was somehow sleeping on the other side of the mirror.

“Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…”

Nothing particularly spooky happened, other than the minor panic attack brought on by my two ‘friends’ who thought that it was funny to leap in through the doorway and make me almost wet myself. It definitely made an impression on me as a kid and – I realise now – may be the reason why I have anxiety issues in bathrooms.

How many people would you think have done this exact same thing, I wonder? How may dares and double-dares have resulted in trying to summon a spirit that will drag you down into the depths of Hell or leave you a torn, bloodied corpse, depending on what legend you hear?

This impulse to chase an Urban Legend – in this case Bloody Mary – like some kind of rite or proof of worthiness (as it was when I was 8 years old), is part of the practice of Legend Tripping.

Legend Tripping is one of the subjects that is going to be covered at Paracon this year by American researcher and author Jeff Belanger. As a former journalist, he has published dozens of books both for children and adults alike on Legend Tripping, the unexplained and the just plain weird.

His way of applying social anthropology to the paranormal field in a way that is both understandable and entertaining is what has made him one of the most recognised paranormal researchers in the field.

With 24 sleeps to go until Paracon 2014, I got the opportunity to ask Jeff Belanger about Legend Tripping, Time Travel (another subject he will be presenting at Paracon) and whether or not he’d been warned about Drop Bears…

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

How did you first get into looking at legends and urban folklore, specifically those of a more paranormal or unexplainable nature?

It was a dark and stormy night… I was ten years old, and attending a sleepover at a friend’s 200-year-old house. He said his house was haunted, so we broke out a Ouija board and tried to make contact.

Growing up in an historic New England town gave me a life-long fascination with ghosts and the paranormal. My first passion was haunted places and the supernatural. Over time, the love of haunted places led me to paranormal investigations. I had the gear and gadgets, and I adored the history of the haunts, but the paranormal community itself left me with more to be desired. I noticed a lot of in-fighting with groups, arguments over who has the right to investigate which locations, and of course what constitutes true evidence and what is just dust floating inches from a camera lens. I had already reached the conclusion that none of us really has a clue. So I decided to strip out all of the parts of this field that annoy me, and what I was left with were great stories.

It’s the story first that draws us in. You hear something that sounds true enough that you want to check it out for yourself. That’s legend tripping. I didn’t invent the term—folklorists have been using it for decades. It’s most often associated with teenage rite of passage events like daring each other to touched an alleged cursed gravestone at midnight under a full moon. To put it simply: legend tripping is putting yourself into the story.

Every paranormal show you’ve ever seen is legend tripping first. A compelling story pulled in the investigator and begged them to ask more questions.

These stories help define a region, who we are, and they connect our cultures. Sharing these stories binds one person to another and offers a direct connection to our ancestors. Even in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and 24×7 news coverage, oral traditions are far from dead.

Now, because of my paranormal roots, I happen to believe that many of these tales are more than just stories. There must have been some kind of paranormal catalyst to birth the legend. The closer we can get the source, the closer we are to truth.

How much fact is usually involved in a legend?

There are always nuggets of truth in any legend, otherwise the legend wouldn’t exist.

If I were to tell you that I saw a yowie, the Loch Ness Monster, and the ghost of Michael Jackson dancing a jig together in front of the Sydney Opera House this morning, you’d think I was crazy. And the story is so unbelievable that you wouldn’t tell others, thus the legend would never be born.

The back story is where all paranormal research is conducted. If you follow a legend backward from person-to-person, you can learn where those elements of truth can be found.

Oral tradition and folklore is a valid and somewhat reliable form of communication. Investigators ignore it at their peril. To remove the history and legend behind unexplained phenomena is to remove the setting from the stage. The performance means nothing without the context of time and place.

The Holy Grail (speaking of legends…) of paranormal investigations is to arrive quickly after a legend is born. If a cryptozoologist receives a phone call from someone nearby who says I saw a yowie this morning and can still see its tracks, that researcher has a great chance at getting really close to the truth. Interviewing someone hours after a profound event means the story hasn’t had a chance to change or evolve much. Following and documenting tracks that are fresh are obviously more credible than prints weeks or months old.

When the stories of encounters get older, they naturally change as more people add themselves to the legend. The legend becomes a communal thing. Its roots become fuzzier, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be traced.

So what would be a typical example of Legend Tripping?

Ever hear about that haunted bridge? You know the one… you drive up to it at midnight, flash your headlights three times, and then the ghost of the woman who flung herself from the bridge years ago will appear and approach your car? Legend tripping means you drive there at midnight and try it.

You know where the bridge is, you have a car, the headlights work. Try it. I know you don’t expect the ghost to pop out, but ask yourself this: before you flash those headlights do you have a moment where you think, “Dear God, what if?”

A simpler example would be heading out to Maitland Gaol because you heard it was haunted. And you wanted to see for yourself.

On the subject of Time Travel; do you believe that time travel is possible? And is it likely to be scientific or metaphysical?

Yes, time travel is possible. Right now we’re moving forward one second at a time. We know for a fact that when you travel on a commercial airliner, time dilates slightly because of your rate of speed and distance from the gravitational influence of the earth. When you use your GPS, the software on the ground must account for the time dilation aboard the satellites in space otherwise you will be kilometers away from where you want to be.

Moving forward in time is easy. You just have to go really fast and far away from the influence of gravity. Moving backward in time is the real trick and poses the most problems with physics.

There are no laws of science that break when it comes to time travel. And many have claimed that through their consciousness they have been able to project to both the future and the past.

I believe that it’s a mistake to think of time as a linear thing. If we think of it as a sheets of paper, or perhaps bubbles of existence, then maybe those bubbles bump into each other at certain points where one time is able to temporarily observe another.

Controlling this process… now that’s the trick.

What sorts of things are usually reported when an incident may involve time travel?

I’m fascinated with what I call time slips. Over the past 20 years I have collected and documented thousands of peoples’ ghost experiences from all over the world. Every once in a while I would find a story that didn’t fit in with the others.

For example, a typical ghost encounter may go like this: I walked in to this old restaurant when I saw a woman in Victorian dress float by, then disappear into the wall.

In this example, the woman in Victorian dress is out of place. She doesn’t belong in this place at this time.

With a time slip, the experience goes more like this: I walked into the old restaurant and suddenly I noticed there were candles burning, no televisions or electric lights, everyone was dressed in Victorian era clothes, and I stood there shocked. A few seconds later, the scene disappears and the restaurant is back to its modern self with electric lights, modern clothes, etc.

In this example the witness was the thing out of place. I’ve been documenting many of these types of encounters lately.

Do you think there is any link between time travel and parallel universes?

Absolutely! If there are infinite universes or dimensions, then everything is happening at some point in the timeline somewhere else right now. If those dimensions were to bump into each other, you would most certainly experience a slip in time.

Are there any Australian legends that interest you?

Definitely. I don’t plan to leave until I see and capture a yowie. Australia also has many great haunts. I can’t wait to check out the ghosts of Maitland Gaol!

Lastly… have you been warned about drop bears during your visit?

No, but I have been warned to be on the lookout for the Yaramayhawho… not sure which would be worse to encounter!

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

Tickets for Paracon are still on sale, and are available from http://www.paraconaustralia.com/. Hurry though, Paracon is on Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th of May, so don’t leave until the last minute!

Jeff will also be taking part in the Paracon After Dark event Ouija Board Experience with Robert Murch. Tickets for the event are on sale, but places are strictly limited!