Monday, February 13, 2017

The first terms...

Ok folks, are we all set?

First, just to get this out of the way: dispel from your mind the notion of trickster as an entity. That's not our context nor do I think it has any basis in actuality. Also for the time being, forget the literary definition. While there may be some observational value in how the literary trickster is presented in texts, it's far an away too anthropomorphic. The trickster is also not defined here by way of theological definitions either. I think it's going to be fairly obvious that we're not blaming this on the devil or any other entity that you may or may not believe in. 

Think of it more as this: an undercurrent of how reality seems to work. I said from the get-go, think abstract.

Here's some definitions of terms you'll need to understand:


This is essentially the state in which there is chaos, and loss of routine. The loss of structured life, and the absence of pattern or organization. Disruption. Disorganization. This is not a tough definition to comprehend, but you're going to see it in many different forms and you'll need to be able to recognize it.

How anti-structure fits our discussion: In the case of investigating or studying paranormal activity, you'll find people who are experiencing phenomena are in some matter of disarray. Stress in all forms. Could be a loss of job, resulting in loss of income. Divorce? Sure. Moving to a new home? Absolutely. Such activities can throw one into a complete state of disharmony. 

But there can be loss of routine in other ways - extended vacation, obsession with an artistic endeavor whether it be writing, playing music, visual art - these things can result in a loss of your normal routine in daily life. It doesn't always have to be some terrible devastation to be anti-structural. One may lead an anti-structural life that has no routine and rarely has (more about these types of folks later). 

You will find anti-structure in the mix of many paranormal events across all matter of discord or loss of regimented life.


The liminal state is one of transition. British anthropologist Victor Turner (1920-1983) published a paper titled “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage.” The phrase 'betwixt and between' helped define the liminal period, as between two normal or stable states of being. You could think of liminality not only as the 'between  state' but as the bridge or connective tissue to anti-structure - it works both ways. For instance the loss of job brings the loss of daily routine, but also puts one in the liminal state of between jobs. If one is between jobs (even by choice), one can fall into an anti-structured life. 

There are liminal places: constructions sites, homes being restored or renovated, etc. It stands to reason that living in a liminal environment would result in a loss of your routine. For example, you can't live in a room that's being gutted for renovation. You may sleep odd hours in another room that is not your normal one - or eat different food at different hours because the kitchen is being redone. The environment in a state of transition is not what it was, but it's also not what it will be...yet.

There are liminal people (not victims of a liminal situation, but that they themselves are liminal): the adolescent boy or girl is by far to me, the most obvious example of liminality: the male is not yet a man - but no longer a little boy, and the female not yet a woman - but no longer a little girl. While the male is certainly undergoing his own changes, the female seems the more potent example of physical and emotional change (to me anyway).  

But there are other examples: the transsexual, either seeking or in the process of sexual reassignment procedures. The notion of cross-dressing, or of being some amalgamation of the male and female simultaneously. The role of shaman in many cultures, the person who walks the line between the spiritual world and physical world - often dresses and appears in androgynous ways.  

There are liminal times of day - 3am being a time when many paranormal minded people say the spirits are more active - is the peak period between night and early morning. 12 midnight is called the "witching hour" - the liminal moment between one day to another. Halloween, a time when folklore tells us the 'veil between the living and the dead is thinnest' happens during the most notable liminal time of year: between summer and winter. 

In essence, anything 'between' one state to another, or in simplest terms 'in the process of change'. Paranormal events seem to be contained within the liminal period.


Marginality for me is one of the more difficult concepts to discuss, because it seems a derogatory thing to say. This is the segment of the paranormal that skeptics use to ultimately cast doubt or suspicion. I've spoken a lot about the 'quality of the messenger' - mostly due to my lengthy discussion with research Russ Estes - and how the quality of many reports of paranormal activity seem to come from sources that in one way or another are marginal. When I say 'marginal'...well, here's a good spot for an example. 

Name the most popular ghost hunting show of all time. 'Ghost Hunters' of course - the show that built SyFy. Now here's a couple of guys using fairly sophisticated equipment for capturing spirit activity. The two principle 'investigators' are marginal, because they are plumbers (this is not to disparage the plumbing profession btw). One seems moderately educated while the other seems to not have much under the belt as far as academe at all. These are not scientists, or even parapsychologists. They are plumbers. Therefore they would fall into the marginal category. While they may get good evidence of spirit activity - many will dismiss it from the standpoint that these men are not very educated, are not versed in any particular field of parapsychology or science, and may be easily dismissed. I have to stress this does not negate their findings - only that it casts doubt by virtue of the quality of the messenger. Never mind, that it's also a TV show, and TV shows are entertainment. I should repeat George Hansen's observation:

"In our culture, the moneys devoted to fictional portrayal of the paranormal in books, TV, and movies dwarf those allocated to research."

There's a reason that it's been joked about that "only people in trailer parks see UFOs". This widespread stereotype has picked up on the marginal aspects of the field. While the stereotype is inaccurate, it focuses on the people as marginal due to where they live. (I might note here that trailer parks are also liminal places to live. Often it is a transitional living domicile.)

Marginal definitions for our purposes also include marginal places - for example many bars and pubs are reported to be haunted. The notion of alcohol being consumed immediately places the reports in a marginal category.

You'll find that many creative personalities (artists, writers, musicians, etc) are represented very high in reports of paranormal events - these people (and yes,me included) are considered marginal because they can easily create reports, videos, photos, that immediately makes the report or evidence suspect. They are also very versed in imagination and visualization. This of course doesn't mean that these people are dishonest by any stretch or that their reports should be dismissed - only that from a subjective and fair outside perspective, creatives are easily dismissed by virtue of their talent to create fiction. We'll get way into this in future discussions.

I think that's enough terminology to get started. Read these carefully and ponder them, their many possibilities and trajectories. In the following days I'll be giving you more complex ideas relating to these basic ideas. I'll also be showing you examples of cases, personalities and apparent phenomena behavior that you'll find endlessly fascinating when looking from the trickster perspective. 

In closing, none of this is particularly new. Some of these observations and terms have been known in the paranormal for 100 years. How marginal is a field(s) that can recognize these patterns and soon forget them to focus time and energy on the meaningless Roswell Slides or Project SERPO.🔻

More to come...


  1. Great introduction. I am fascinated by the concepts of anti-structure and liminality. In my own case, I grew up in a highly unstructured lifestyle - Air Force family living like gypsies, always preparing for war (my dad was in SAC), and this has continued into my adult life. In some cases while transitioning from home to another across the country, I have noted odd things happening, either in the form of (external) paranormal events, or personal transformative states (visions, abilities to affect my environment or objects, "time-slips", transcendent / kundalini states). I have a feeling this has to do with a kind of re-wiring of the brain / body that need to happen in conditions of anti-structure. During this process, the old brain-constructs are broken down, dropping the veil so-to-speak between the supernatural world and the "real world". Once settling into a new situation is completed, the re-wired brain is back at work with its new scaffold of "reality"; the veil back in place.

  2. Howdy Sir. Name's Gabriel and I'm posting on this entry because February 13th is my birthday - this past being my 40th.

    Just listened to you on WhereDidTheRoadGo (posted by Seriah on February 27th)

    I live this. I was the liminal locked weirdo who posted under Jack Handy (which comes from SNL's DeepThoughts by JackHandy.

    After posting those comments - which will seem incoherent to nearly everyone, I shared it and the podcast, with my neighbour who happens to be VERY into UFO's, but ONLY UFO's. Guess what her name is?

    Lisa. Yeah. Of course right? Guess what she loves to do - Read... in a Gazebo...

    People won't realize that even trip-ups are a part of it. The forgetful moment, is part of it. That thing, that noise, that sensory stimulus, that "comes out of nowhere" is part of it.


    Yeah. Welcome to my world.

    What is apparent to me is that had the industrial revolution not been what it was, had churches not glutted for power, and had kings not become abusive, the paranormal WouldHaveBecomeOurSpirituality. But we were diverted. Thwarted.

    On the podcast in my living room right now, you mentioned "for people to walk the same steps" This was what I was doing, and this is where it went weird. That's one of the big significances, of BIGfoot.

    This is a creature that *can navigate PERFECTLY, the DARK* A creature that's alive and well, that can navigate WHAT NO ONE ELSE WANTS TO EVEN CONSIDER

    The morning after listening (the first time) I went to the local pool and their admission wrist bands for the day were white and had "77%" written on them. What do I do with that?

    It's about properly reading your own data stream

    For me, how that was to be read was - Gabriel Hogan, born 1977, and that "percent" is important to understanding what's NOT being spoken by people.

    I do this real-time, bridging here and there, demonstrating synchronicity (which I'm convinced is just personal quantum physics) all over the place.

    I'm also a single father of three who is keen to the folly of present society. Well divorced from it all, yet still standing.

    Thanks for your courage in taking this on.

    Regards, Gabriel - BC, Canada

    1. Thanks Gabriel - synchronicity abounds and the weird continues whether or not we walk the steps, or not. ;)

      "It's about properly reading your own data stream"

      And knowing where you are in it. Stepping back to take stock of position and actions is always a good idea.

  3. This is fascinating stuff.........keep it up. Thanks!

  4. I've always been stumped by the problem of translating these concepts from the abstract to the real world where they might have some predictive or analytic value. For example, what would be some specific criteria for defining a situation as anti-structure? It seems like you could always find evidence for it in retrospect when considering a given paranormal event. My own life is constantly shifting between various routines and their collapse across many different domains, professional, romantic, interpersonal, etc. The same is true of the other concepts. In some ways I'm marginal. In others I'm completely assimilated. The point is, with this model, as it's brilliantly articulated here and by George Hansen, one will probably always be able to find evidence for any of the criteria to explain a given paranormal event after the fact. Am I over thinking it? Seems like a pretty standard problem with anthropological theory generally. Abstract concepts are never robust enough to encoumpas the totality of real human experience and tend to exist in separation from it.
    That sounds like a dis. I really don't mean it as such. I just love the ideas and would like to have something to use them for. With the CORE study, you've probably thought more than anyone about operationalizing them.

    1. Hi Simeon - It usually is an after the fact thing, BUT I often talk to people who say they've had a paranormal event happen to them, and I can often predict what was going on in their lives before they tell me. So, it's predictive because I don't know, but it's still after the fact.

      I can say that I've made some predictions using the anti-structure/liminal model. But it's not easy to do that and have it remain anti-structural. Like, if you say it out loud, you kill it.

    2. I should also mention that Project Oculus was in part trying to be predictive - would paranormal phenomena happen if we were deliberately anti-structural? It had some limited success.