Adventure in the Paranormal by: A Pair O’ Normals


The Dobbins Sisters checked in at the Utah Paranormal Expo on the sixth of this month, as a Skeptic and a Believer. Their adventure is recounted from the perspective of each below.

Erin Dobbins: Believer


  • Read all the Harry Potter Books
  • Knows how to read Tarot
  • Told by a professional psychic she has psychic senses
  • Has seen a ghost

Eileen Dobbins: Skeptic


  • Deep-seated trust issues
  • Has watched episodes of Lie to Me, The Mentalist, Brain Games
  • Told by professional psychic she would never be happy because she is incapable of satisfaction
  • Has been ghosted



I consider myself somewhat a follower of the occult, and by that, I mean in terms of belief, I would rate myself a medium. This month I attended the Utah Paranormal Expo at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, UT, where I brushed auras with a multitude of believers, practitioners, and skeptics alike. I was uncertain what to expect out of this event- would I be enlightened? Would I be spooked? Would I spend a bunch of money on crystals? (Now I know that I would experience and do all these things.)

Initially, I had a bit of a challenge locating the event, and I wondered if any of the spirits in attendance experienced similar issues with their GPS.

I was unsurprised to find quite a lot of hubbub at the event, and a lot of the panels were pushed back or forward willy-nilly it seemed which caused some attendees no small amount of frustration. I wasn’t too shocked by changes to the schedule; I assumed most of the event would be spirit-led.


I don’t believe in the paranormal. I am willing to concede that science has yet to discover a great deal about the nature of life, and that ghosts and psychics could be real in the same sense that God could, but I am so far unconvinced. I am not a likely attendee of an event like the Utah Paranormal Expo, but when Erin invited me to come along as the designated skeptic, the naysayer in me leapt.

Little did we know when we set out for the event that powers of divination are required to locate the venue, which is well off the beaten track. Thanks to signs (corporeal) we eventually located the expo in the basement of The Fort Douglas Guest House and Conference Center. We checked in just in time to catch the tail end of a panel by a pet psychic, Rob Gutro. To be clear, Gutro is a published author and psychic medium for pets, not a psychic Saint Bernard. Perhaps they will spring for the psychic Saint Bernard at next year’s event.


I have a dog, I mean I’ve had a few of them, but I currently have a dog which I dote on and I considered it a happy coincidence that my first panel happened to be hosted by pet psychic, Rob Gutro. I was unsettled to learn that our deceased pet friends are basically hanging about in legions around us all the time, and our poor living pets see them and are likely taunted by them. Not that that’s all bad, there are a few of those dead “floofs” I’d be cool with having around in spirit form, if I can’t hear them bark. Spirit animals are also able to manipulate weather and other animals, which I find distasteful, and if any of my past pet friends are reading this- please, correspond with me in writing instead.


Rob Gutro communicates with dead pets then sells books about it. Mostly dogs, but apparently what goes for the spirits of dogs is pretty much ditto for cats. We were only in time for his Q&A session but still managed to pick up fascinating paranormal tidbits. For example, we know that dogs have souls thanks to the MRI. Gutro asked if anyone in the room had had an MRI and 90% of the audience raised their hands; I felt it was entirely possible that attendees of a paranormal convention might have required a brain scan previously. Psychics are known to make outlandish claims, but Gutro pretty much guaranteed that by mentally inviting our deceased pets to visit our dreams for several weeks, they will. They will be able to speak to you and scare the bejeezus out of your current pets. I was even surprised to learn that dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to significant dates and anniversaries (births, deaths, 9/11).

Unanswered question: When did my pomeranian learn to read a calendar?


I enjoyed a chocolate covered banana as I waited for my psychic reading (by Tena of Paranormal Angels), only to discover that I would have longer to wait than I had supposed (maybe I really scarfed down that banana?); I hit another panel. This next panel was all about divine intervention and calling on angels for assistance. I’ll never remember the names of the angels (I could barely remember the name of the man who claims to converse with them, Embrosewyn Tazkuvel), so don’t ask me, but know that they won’t answer to anything but their given names. There are no nicknames among angels! “Angels are more than feathers!” – Embrosewyn Tazkuvel, that was a major take away from the panel.


The next panel was by a bestselling author and angel expert, Embrosewyn Tazkuvel. I do not believe that was his birth name; he did refer to himself at one point in his story as “Brother Love,” which, to the designated skeptic, sounded suspiciously like an alias. He professed to be able to connect with guardian angels using his proven guardian angel beaconing system (a crack team at Yale has never heard of it). Tazkuvel published a book called Angels of Miracles and Manifestation: 144 Names, Sigils and Stewardships To Call the Magickal Angels of Celestine Light, which is the yellow pages for angels. The secret to summoning a guardian angel is: speak their name three times (Beetlejuice rules). You can summon any angel that way and if you snag their pot of gold they have to grant a wish, or something like that. Just be sure to buy and use Tazkuvel’s book to find the right angel for the task.

Unanswered question: Is the process for summoning deceased pets and guardian angels so similar because our guardian angels are also deceased pets?


At last the time came for my psychic reading. I had looked forward to this from the moment I had been invited to attend the event. I was excited and nervous as the psychic took my hands and looked into my eyes. Psychic readings are a bit like wearing dirty clothes and having someone pick out all the stains, only the psychic is picking up on your spirit guides, which might be creepier. My spirit guides seemed cool, like we’d probably hang out on the weekends, they also happened to be my ancestors which I tried to find comforting but found disconcerting instead. That was the one spook I experienced there.


The final panel we attended was a demonologist named Jymie Darling (another alias?). She was by far the most interesting performer of the day. She referred to some impressive yet vague academic credentials in something like ancient religions or set decorating (that is her profession, as per IMDB). Her advice on demons was this: do not summon them. Sure, pacts with devils and selling your soul are trendy, but decidedly bad form lest you crave disaster. She illustrated this point with campfire stories and advised against all amateur demonology. Instead you should use your wallet to summon Darling! She did offer to cleanse us for free at her display table, and Erin took her up. I declined. I didn’t want a stranger to touch my feet.

Unanswered question: If I summon my guardian angel and a demon, will they fight each other?


Finally, my opportunity to hear the demonologist, Jymie Darling, came. This was the most impressive part of the expo, for me. I was impressed by the years of study and experience she had, or claimed to have, and the quality of her presentation. It was clear she is a specialist on the topic and has put a lot of time into perfecting her craft. We were shown a variety of objects, some meant to heal, others that had been linked to demonic activity. I was uneasy with both. I don’t dig clowns or dolls- both seem to be inherently evil. I would consider this the highlight of the event, and the panel was very well attended. I would say eight out of ten people in attendance are not likely to strike up a deal with the devil anytime soon, Jymie was adamant on that subject and her fervour worked.


The vendor hall had more crystals than you could shake sage at. Erin, being somewhat knowledgeable on the subject, identified many of them and felt different vibrations. I felt like I was holding rocks. A few booths offered psychic readings. Erin had a 20 minute session. The psychic held her hands and looked deep into her eyes while she made predictions. It looked uncomfortable to me. The psychic made some “educated” guesses due to Erin’s age and appearance. I mean, what adult woman hasn’t had a female relative or role model who’s died? Who doesn’t know a man with light hair? Who wouldn’t be interested in a promotion or new place to live?

Unanswered question: If you’re psychic why didn’t you anticipate whatever caused the cast on your foot?


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There were a few vendors present at the event, and I perused their wares while waiting for the demonologist’s panel. Good smells were abundant, as the event had not one, but two candle vendors and was practically dripping in essential oils. I have never been surrounded by so many beautiful, shiny rocks! The crystals were here, there, and everywhere! I think I annoyed my sister by telling her what each of the crystals’ properties were, and repeatedly saying, “I really need some pyrite,” but never actually purchasing it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to as many of the panels as I would’ve liked, and I missed the paranormal adventure the night before altogether. There were many other, notable guests in attendance; Chip Coffey (psychic, medium and advisor), Ben Hansen (Paranormal Investigator), Andrea Perron (occupied the property that inspired “ The Conjuring”), Ahnne Allyria (Utah-based psychic medium), and many others!

It doesn’t matter what your degree of interest, there was much to observe at this event. I would say any person with even a passing interest in the paranormal would find many enticing activities here. I have one complaint: the scheduling and ticketing were a bit unclear- the schedule changing drastically several times and the “box office” being sort of smack in the middle of the event, leaving a lot of confused people wandering around, wondering where to pay. Not all of us are psychics, and we need to have some of this information in advance. I would also note that this Paranormal Expo does not include anything related to aliens, which would have diversified the event’s panels and drawn in attendees with other interests. Give us aliens next year, damn it!

The Believer and Skeptic both had an enjoyable experience, despite the lack of aliens. What will next year bring?

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