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Paranormal Connections The Stirling International Festival of the Paranormal Proposal: The establishment of a major annual international Halloween Festival which will present, address, investigate and interrogate all areas of paranormal activity and interest. The Festival will have a serious, scientific and partly academic character during the day but will become more fun-filled and light-hearted at night. The Festival will make Stirling the main destination on the planet at Halloween! Astonishingly, there is no other event of size comparable to this proposal anywhere else in the world, apart from a number of conventions devoted specifically to the study of UFOs. The opportunity of mounting the largest Paranormal Festival anywhere is there for the taking! Locus: The main events and sessions will be located in Stirling - our historic, vibrant, attractive and atmospheric city which is also a significant site & hub of paranormal activity. There is a wider and powerful national tradition in Scotland of myths and legends associated with ghosts, spirits, UFOS and other instances of the supernatural. Ghost tours are already a part of the tourist economy in Stirling. The Castle precinct itself is reputed to be haunted, with a famous ghost photograph on display in the military museum there. So also is the adjacent graveyard – a veritable “city of the dead” boasting elaborate tombs, mausoleums and monuments to the great and the good who have already passed over. There are also numerous reports of hauntings in the Tollbooth Theatre, the Old Town Jail and the Top of the Toon area. Stirling is also at the centre of or close to a plethora of recent UFO sightings. Bonnybridge, which is on the world top ten list of UFO hotspots, is not far away. The area around the town of Stirling itself, near the Castle and Cambusbarron, has featured very recently in a number of highly convincing videos of UFOs shot by a particular local enthusiast which have caused a sensation on the internet. There are many examples, therefore, of strange and supernatural happenings both past and present which underline Stirling’s claim to be a natural home for a Festival of the Paranormal. There might also be satellite events in other towns and cities in Scotland with specific connections to the paranormal, and tours to these destinations can also be offered as an additional attraction.


Date: Initially, over a weekend at the end of October – but centring on the Eve of All Hallows. Audience & Participants: Local, national and international. The expert and the amateur; the obsessed and the merely curious; the believers and the sceptical. Style: Authoritative, serious and enjoyable.


Science & the Paranormal – The Wider Worlds Phenomena we have hitherto considered to be “paranormal” are now being confronted and reassessed in a number of branches of mathematics, theoretical physics and astro physics. Scientists and other academics who work in these areas are now raising questions relating to the possible (some would say certain) existence of other parallel dimensions and distant civilisations which challenge our hitherto cosy assumptions about mankind’s unique place in the cosmos. It was shocking to many that when the Large Hydron Collider in CERN was switched on last year a number of serious scientists raised the fearful possibility of the machine tearing a hole in the very fabric of the time/space continuum which might allow other-dimensional entities to slip in and wreak havoc in our own placid set of dimensions. Compared to this the other mooted possibility of the LHC creating a black hole which would instantaneously swallow up Earth and the surrounding planets seemed almost mundane. All of this points to a burgeoning and questioning engagement with the very essence of our communal perception of reality and the associated basic tenets of human existence. If science itself is now close to accepting the paranormal as normal, so to speak, then we have entered a new phase of our thinking about the very nature of life on this planet. There has arguably been a recent epistemological rupture in our notions of the status of humankind in this solar system, whose central star is one of countless billions stretching to the edges of time and materiality, and perhaps beyond. Even the BBC flagship science programme Horizon recently reported on an astonishing claim by scientists on Germany (see media reference below): “Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation” It is as if the world has woken to a similar shift in perception as falteringly asserted by Galileo Galilei, who feared he might be burned at the stake as a heretic for his revelations when he championed the belief of Copernicus that the sun and the other planets did not revolve around the earth. The opposition of the 17th century Church to such bible-contradicting concepts brings to the foreground the position of religion in all of this. It can be objectively asserted that all forms of religious belief can be defined as a belief in the paranormal. In simpler terms the Church still has a role for exorcists within its practices, which in itself is a clear recognition of the existence of the paranormal by organised and established religion. The idea of an omnipotent and omniscient deity is not provable in absolute terms and must depend on the essential concept of faith. Faith is in itself a non-rational or anti-rational belief. And yet rationalist scientists are now broaching concepts which bend all of our accepted ideas about the very nature of existence.


Shakespeare, as ever, condensed a criticism of our often narrow and solipsistic reading of our place in the “known” universe into a beautifully pithy phrase, this time placing it in Hamlet’s mouth – “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio”. Science & the Paranormal – The Universities Archie Edmiston Roy FRSE, FRAS – who died in late 2012 - was Professor Emeritus of Astronomy in the University of Glasgow. His obituary in The Guardian honoured his contribution to the serious study of the paranormal: “It was Roy's interest in psychic research that absorbed the last 10 years of his life. The topic may have raised eyebrows in academic circles, but it brought him renown in the Scottish media as Roy set about testing the claims of local clairvoyants. "He was extremely rigorous in his approach," says fellow astronomer Professor Bonnie Steves, of Glasgow Caledonian University and a former PhD student of Roy's. "The subject of psychic phenomena posed puzzles – how could a particular medium know so much about a stranger, for example – that Archie felt a scientist should try to solve. And his accounts of his dealings with haunted houses and mediums were hugely popular with his scientific colleagues.” The Festival would honour, perhaps formally, Archie’s work in both of his main fields of interest. On the other side of the country Edinburgh’s oldest university has also been in the vanguard of attempts to draw the investigation of the paranormal into the realms of serious scientific study. The first Chair of Parapsychology in the UK, endowed by the Hungarian writer Arthur Koestler, was established at Edinburgh University in 1984. Parapsychologists study a number of ostensible paranormal phenomena, including telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation and apparitional experiences. We already enjoy a good relationship with the academics of the Koestler Institute, and they are willing to participate in the Festival.

Economic Rationale As far as we can establish there is no similar major Festival of the Paranormal anywhere else on the planet.


There is an absolutely enormous popular international interest in every aspect of “the paranormal”, an umbrella term we use here for the sake of convenience. In popular culture, in literature, cinema and television and on the internet, it is possible to detect everywhere an unquenchable thirst for a greater understanding of the paranormal. It could be argued that in the period running up to the year 2000 there was indeed a vast increase in what might be called millennial interest. This was manifested through the astonishing popularity of TV programmes such as “The X-Files”. In cinema “The Blair Witch Project” profited hugely through its low cost of production allied to astute and groundbreaking internet marketing techniques which allowed the manipulated idea of “real” paranormal footage to seep into the public consciousness. What has been called “new ageism” was also detectable in the vast interest in UFO activity on the internet, with YouTube and other sites carrying countless clips of purported sightings of interplanetary craft. Also on TV both in the UK, the USA and elsewhere there was a huge upsurge in documentary and/or reality programming in the areas of real-life ghost hunting –“Most Haunted”, Ghost Adventures”, “Paranormal State”, “Ghost Hunters”, etc. There is an equal preponderance of TV programmes which focus on UFO investigations. In this latter category the events surrounding the alleged crash of a UFO at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, with first-person testimonies of recovered dead and still living aliens, and an associated cover-up of massive proportions, looms very large indeed. Cinema has demonstrated a fascination with the paranormal from its earliest years, and the first showman of “constructed” films, Georges Mélies, regularly engaged with phantasmagorical subjects. German Expressionism produced classics such as “Nosferatu” and “The Golem”. The supernatural has been a constant and very lucrative thread in the industry of cinema, from classics like ”The Exorcist” through to the more recent dark-tinged teenage fantasy of the “Harry Potter” films and on to the outrageously successful “Twilight” vampire franchise. In simple terms, the paranormal is fascinating to most if not all of us. It has a massive gravitational pull on a vast and avid set of potential audiences. It is great box-office, and with the right marketing giving the subject a focus and a platform could produce wonderful financial results. A Festival which would cohere and attract all of these disparate but thematically connected strands of interest, especially if held over Halloween, would be an enormous economic driver and a huge commercial opportunity for the city and the country. Content: As stated earlier, the paranormal is an all-encompassing term which can be broken down and categorised into a number of specific areas of interest. None of the following subjects or categories is exhaustive:


Main Possible Themes & Subject Areas: 1. Ghosts & Spirits: Hauntings; Apparitions; Poltergeists; Ghost-hunting; Ghost photography & videos; Electronic voice phenomena; Mediumship; Spiritualism; etc, etc. 2. UFOs: This area of interest has produced some specific initiatives, and two in particular might serve as a template for the GIFP as a whole. In 2001 the Disclosure Project used the highly prestigious National Press Club of America in Chicago to focus the attention of world’s media on the controversial and increasingly pressing subject of UFOs. This was not a gathering of credulous freaks and marginals, avid to believe in what they had already decided was true without the aid of evidence or proof. The speakers here (and subsequently) were high-ranking military personnel from the USA and other countries, international commercial airline pilots, astronauts who had participated on moon missions, senior academics, and even an ex-Defence Minister of Canada. All of them spoke of their inexplicable and first-hand experiences of encounters with UFO-type phenomena. Many of these unimpeachable sources spoke of their belief that governments, and the US government in particular, already knew of the reality of extraterrestrial visitation on earth. Some maintained that they knew for certain there had been contact with alien civilisations, and that such contact was being covered up and kept secret from the general public. * And all of them stated clearly that they would be prepared to testify as to the truth of their assertions in front of Congress and under oath. It should be noted here that a significant number of major governments have already indicated their official belief that UFOS exist, including France, Mexico and Brazil. To bring the subject closer to home, few people in the UK can still be unaware of the Bonnybridge UFO phenomenon. For more than a decade now this small town near Falkirk has been the epicentre of a bewildering number of UFO sightings, giving it the status of a world UFO “hotspot” and lending to the surrounding area the name of “The Falkirk Triangle”. It is not the only activity of its kind recorded in the area. In 1979 in a wood near Livingstone a forester of known even temperament had a terrifying encounter with a strange metallic object, obviously intelligently controlled, which seized him and ripped his clothing. It was a terrifying close encounter which led to the only case in British history of an alien sighting being the subject of a criminal investigation!


In 1992 not far from Livingstone, to the south west of Edinburgh, occurred one of the most famous cases of alleged alien abduction anywhere. The A70 road near the Harperrig Reservoir was purportedly the scene of one of Scotland's best-known UFO incidents, now known as 'the A70 incident'. Two men, Garry Wood and Colin Wright, were travelling one evening from the outskirts of Edinburgh to the village of Tarbrax. Something evidently caused them to be delayed, for they arrived at their destination much later than expected. Several months later the pair underwent hypnotic regression and claimed to recall that they had been abducted, examined and communicated with by alien creatures. Bonnybridge, Livingstone, Linlithgow - all towns that are close to the eastern edge of Stirling itself. And these are just a few prominent instances of inexplicable activities and happenings which continue to baffle and astonish in Scotland and throughout the rest of the world. We are not making our own case here for the existence of aliens and UFOS, simply presenting the fact that there are already prominent examples out there of “serious” individuals and institutions addressing “paranormal” subjects like UFOS in a highly responsible, systematic and serious fashion. That is what we would hope that the SIFP would do on a regular basis in Stirling and throughout Scotland. (The general area of Ufology has a large number of sub-divisions and topics including sightings, abductions, regression therapies, alien implants, alien species, alien hybridisation, historical sightings and evidence, hoaxers, film & video anomalies, government cover-ups – the list is almost endless). 3. Psychic Healing Twenty-year-old Gary Mannion calls himself Britain's youngest psychic surgeon, channeling a spirit from the dead to operate on the sick. He is a rising star in the world of spiritual healing, travelling the world to bring his alleged ability to effect miracle cures to a devoted following. He was featured in a recent BBC documentary. 4. Cryptozoology Scotland’s own Loch Ness Monster is a world-renowned example of this phenomenon.

The Festival - A Possible Model As stated earlier, the festival will be both serious during the day and fun at night, and will seek to attract participants both local and international, expert and curious. believers and sceptics. It will have a number of different and parallel strands: Talks & Lectures – in association with experts, authors and academic institutions.


Debates - on all aspects of the paranormal. Films - feature films, documentaries, TV programmes. In association, perhaps, with the GFT. Theatre – Plays and theatrical presentations on paranormal themes. Examples- “The Woman In Black”; “The Rocky Horror Show”; the Vox Motus production of “The Brothers Davenport” Psychic Sessions, also in theatre - any or all of the top 5 top mediums currently touring the UK – Sally Morgan, Colin Fry, Gordon Smith, T J Higgs, Derek Acorah and Glaswegian Gordon Smith, the “Psychic Barber”; Comic Psychic Sessions – the hilarious and astounding Ian D Montfort (Tom Binns), the comedy spirit medium who has audiences roaring with laughter one minute and then gasping in amazement the next. Tours – of local and further flung paranormal locations. Ghost Hunts – exploring some of the more haunted parts of Stirling. Paranormal Marketplace – selling books, DVDs, equipment and other relevant artefacts. The Ghost Box - The Festival will also have a Community dimension, via an exciting and radical initiative to record the paranormal experiences of the people of Stirling, and visitors to the Festival. The Ghost Box will be a site, or series of sites, where members of the public can go in to make an anonymous or open digital film recording of any strange phenomena they have seen or heard or felt. These recordings will be preserved as a unique and important oral history archive of the city. Business Model: SIFP should be a public/private partnership. Start-up and operational investment should come entirely or substantially from the public purse on the basis of the future value of the event to the local and national economies. Sources of support: The following relevant public bodies have already expressed very strong interest in the idea of a paranormal festival in Scotland and high-level meetings have been held with all of them: Event Scotland Scottish Enterprise Visit Scotland City of Stirling Council would be another key partner.


PC would be owned and managed by a separate private company “PC Holdings” (to be registered), with split shareholding and an appointed board of management. This company would own the underlying intellectual property on which the Festival would be based and in accordance with which it would operate. “PC Holdings” (to be registered) would perhaps seek to augment public start-up and operational investment from its own or other sources. “PC Holdings” would own all the operating profits of the venture. These profits would be split according to an agreement to be negotiated and achieved in good faith between the parties concerned. Conclusion: The SIFP could be the biggest thing to hit festivals in this world – or any other…. The Director: Peter Broughan is the Glaswegian originator and producer of international films like Rob Roy and The Flying Scotsman. He is approaching his idea for Paranormal Connections in exactly the same way as he would a major movie. He has an avid interest in the whole area of paranormal phenomena, and recently attended the International UFO Congress in Phoenix, Arizona to research the staging of a similar major event and to make connections in the area. Further details can be found on his website: Document Author: Peter Broughan, 3/4/2013. © Peter Broughan 2012, 2013


Paranormal Scotland  

The Stirling International Festival of the Paranormal