An Interview with William Henry Belk:One of the original pioneering giants in the paranormal field
By: Brent Raynes
William Henry Belk II is the founder of the Belk Research Foundation, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is an organization established to conduct scientific studies of people with genuine paranormal abilities. He has traveled extensively, even to Brazil and the Philippines, to study people with such abilities. He is particularly interested in those persons who can manifest physical phenomena, such as psychokinesis (mind-over-matter) and materializations of physical objects.
Belk’s father founded the famous Belk department stores, with the first one back in 1888, in Monroe, North Carolina. Today there are over 400 Belk stores spread out in 18 states from Delaware to Texas, and even includes Puerto Rico.
Belk, from what I know, has seldom done that many interviews about his interests and research in the field of parapsychology, and so I feel especially honored and good about having had this unique opportunity to interview this man whom I consider to be one of the original pioneering giants in this field.
Brent Raynes: You became involved in parapsychology back in 1938, at Duke University, and you worked with Prof. J. B. Rhine, and it was then that you realized that if paranormal events existed back in Biblical times then they must continue to exist today. So you came to set up the Belk Research Foundation to study scientifically persons with paranormal abilities and also to do materialization studies.
William Henry Belk: And how it tied into religion, or how the religions got into business. Put it that way.
Brent Raynes: When did you establish the foundation?
William Henry Belk: I think it was back when I got out of the Navy, maybe 1950.
Brent Raynes: And, of course, since then you had discovered Peter Hurkos of Holland in 1955, and Arigo, the Brazilian healer in 1963, and the Philippine healers back in 1965, and you worked closely with such well-known researchers as Andrija Puharich and Harold Sherman, and of course today Dr. Berthold Schwarz.
Can you tell a little bit about some of your discoveries and experiences?
William Henry Belk: The first discovery, you see, I was raised with Billy Graham (and) when I came back from Duke University, I thought Billy Graham would be interested in a scientific approach to religion. So Billy asked me if I had been saved. I told him, “Hell Billy, I’ve never been lost. What’s your problem?” This was in the 1940s.
Brent Raynes: So you had known Billy Graham and his family?
William Henry Belk: We were raised together, here in the same city. His father ran a dairy here. So I said, “Billy, the only thing you can save me from is stupidity, ignorance, anger, lust, and all that kind of stuff that I don’t need,” I said. “You can’t save me from anything like that because common sense tells you that somebody invented all of it.”
Brent Raynes: Do you still have contact with Billy Graham?
William Henry Belk: Yes. I went up to see him last year. My brother Henderson was on his board of directors for twelve years. So we’ve been associated with him on and off over the years.
Brent Raynes: So you felt strongly about this and then you got to actively investigate it and study people with these abilities. What did you find?
William Henry Belk: Well one of the first people, my ex-wife – she was a medium (and) she would go into a trance and we would speak to people on the other side. Back in the 1950s. Then I met Arthur Ford, the famous medium, and Eileen Garrett. Both Well-known.
Brent Raynes: And then there was Peter Hurkos?
William Henry Belk: My foundation brought him to the United States for study.
Brent Raynes: The demonstrations with Peter Hurkos were pretty impressive to everyone I think who ever became associated with him.
William Henry Belk: Oh he wound up as the medium for President Reagan. He fascinated all the Hollywood people. Glenn Ford was interested in him.
Brent Raynes: But you don’t actually feel that he was doing just extra-sensory perception? You feel that there was a little more to it?
William Henry Belk: Well I have a picture of the controls that control him from the other side. I have the original negative.
Brent Raynes: Is this what you came to feel about all of the psychics really? That there was a spirit agency working through them?
William Henry Belk: I am fully convinced that there is a super civilization out there in a parallel dimension. In other words, it co-exists with us but in another time frame reference.
Brent Raynes: We were talking earlier and you mentioned about being in Naval Intelligence back during World War II.
William Henry Belk: I was. In North Africa.
Brent Raynes: And that you had maintained contacts with people in the military after that and unofficially you had gotten the word that really the conclusion I think was that it was a parallel dimension that the UFOs themselves appear to be a part of.
William Henry Belk: The UFOs have been around all the time. It’s just man didn’t know about it. They run this planet from an unseen dimension and we are one big school. We’re in a school. You and me both. Let’s not call it religion. Let’s call it a school.
Brent Raynes: So we’re here to learn lessons while we’re here?
William Henry Belk: We do that by picking on each other. Like chickens.
Brent Raynes: We pick on one another, that’s for sure. (We both laugh)
William Henry Belk: Your whole life is a sitcom. You and I are living it while we’re talking right now.
Brent Raynes: Do you think that before we came here we had a previous existence?
William Henry Belk: I have no scientific knowledge on that. No objective opinion.
Brent Raynes: Okay, I thought that perhaps from what you believe now that you might have formulated some kind of opinion on that.
William Henry Belk: You must separate what I believe from what I know. A lot of people run the two of them together. Beliefs change before facts. So I try to stick to the facts.
Brent Raynes: In your study of these psychics you believed that there was something there – but then?
William Henry Belk: Very hard to pin it down.
Brent Raynes: This seems like one of the great dilemmas.
William Henry Belk: It is a great dilemma, because you see a lot of these things science wants repeatable. They want it under control. To do it at will. A lot of these paranormal activities are not repeatable and a lot of them you can’t produce them at will.
Brent Raynes: And, of course, everyone wants to be able to identify what is coming from a good force and what’s coming from a bad force. Do you feel like you’ve made any determination in that area?
William Henry Belk: Well it’s like the bug. It depends on whose stepped on whether it’s good or bad. Good and bad is a relative thing depending on which end of the stick you’re on.
Brent Raynes: I’m thinking in terms of like something Billy Graham would bring up himself. Demon possession.
William Henry Belk: I have seen actual possession take place, so I do know that it exists. But I think that people like Billy Graham run it into the ground.
Brent Raynes: Can you describe what you saw?
William Henry Belk: I have seen people actually possessed and taken over by people from another dimension, both in Brazil and in the Philippines. In fact, you’ll find some of it in our insane asylums in the United States.
Brent Raynes: Do you feel that this is what has happened to some of the people claiming UFO contact and abductions?
William Henry Belk: I do not know. I know one of the best experts on UFO abductions is Budd Hopkins. He’s done a lot of research on that area. Some of it is from the subconscious mind, so you have to be very objective in your studies. But I do know that they exist because I’ve talked to people in our own government about it. They’ve been known by every president of the United States since Truman. The whole thing has been controlled by NSA – National Security Administration – at Fort Meade, Maryland. Now the CIA is under the jurisdiction of the NSA. They operate on a black budget, billions of dollars. Each section investigating the UFOs is compartmentalized. You can work in the CIA and never know what the guy is doing in the office next to you. If you read that book, The Day After Roswell, by Colonel Corso, Corso was in charge of some of those activities. He said that after Roswell we got the CDs, what you play music on. This was of alien technology. Night vision was of alien technology. You ought to read this book. Instead of using copper wire they used light going through wire. Fiber optics. And he said the computers came from there. Silicon chips.
Brent Raynes: Can you tell me about Harry Stumpf, mentioned in The Sacred Mushroom?
William Henry Belk: Harry Stumpf was introduced to my friend Alice Astor Bouvery Blensky of New York and what happened was he was invited up to dinner at her house in New York City, right on Park Avenue. He picked up an Egyptian trinket – you know these rich women have a lot of trinkets – and he went into a trance and he started speaking ancient languages 4000 years old and ancient hiegoglyphics – writing them down. Dr. Puharich was employed to study the situation. He wrote a book called The Sacred Mushroom about it.
Brent Raynes: That’s a book I haven’t read.
William Henry Belk: It’s out of print now, but I can tell you all about it because I know Harry. He’s still alive today. But he had no conscious memory of it. Nor would my wife when she was in these trances. See all of these mediums, when they perform these acts, they are completely unconscious of it. They’re like a zombie.
Brent Raynes: Yet this information that Harry and your wife got turned out to be?
William Henry Belk: Turned out to be accurate. Mediumship, today called channeling, is the same business. They changed the name because it sounds better. The Hebrew prophets did it. It’s nothing now.
Brent Raynes: Do you have any cases that you’re currently involved in investigating?
William Henry Belk: I’m involved with this Katie case down in Vero Beach, Florida, with Dr. Schwarz.
Brent Raynes: Have you met her yet?
William Henry Belk: Oh yes, I know her quite well. I saw her last February (1997).
Brent Raynes: Okay, could you describe some of the phenomena?
William Henry Belk: I saw her materialize a medallion out of her left eye. It fell out. It’s called materialization. I am willing to put up $50,000 on studies on materialization if we can get people like Katie to do it. The main thing is it’s hard to get somebody who can do it. They’re rare. Most of them can do the ectoplasm type stuff…but this is actual, physical materialization, called apports. When they worked on the body in the Philippines it was the materialization of a disease outside of the body. In other words, if you had cancer of the lung, the healer’s hand does not go in the lung. He just picks up the disease that these people on the other side (who don’t pay taxes) accumulated. So it’s done by somebody invisible who doesn’t pay taxes.
Brent Raynes: You’re the one who interested Harold Sherman in the Philippine healers?
William Henry Belk: I paid his way out there. Helped him to publish the book. It shook him real bad, because he had never seen anything like that. It made him cry almost. When we were out there I said, “Look Harold, it’s not going to do any good to cry about it. Let’s go down to the police station and see if they’ve killed anybody.” See I’m objective about it. I’m not religious. I’m a detective, so to speak. I wanted to see if they had harmed anybody, if there had been any cases of this stuff causing murder. But there had never been any cases of anyone being killed by these healers.
Brent Raynes: And this is the same way it was in Brazil?
William Henry Belk: The same way it was in Brazil, but a little different. In the first place the language is different, the environment is different. In the Phlippines it’s Catholic country. In Brazil it’s more or less voodoo kind of stuff.
Brent Raynes: In Brazil, I believe you were a witness to Dr. Puharich having a knife…
William Henry Belk: I took the pictures.
Brent Raynes: What did you think of that?
William Henry Belk: Well I was floored. I was a Naval Officer. I’ve seen a lot of unusual things, been around a good deal, but when I saw that I knew this was something that couldn’t be done in the hospital in Charlotte. My grandfather was one of the top doctors here in Charlotte. Belk, wherever we have a store, helps the local hospitals. So I knew that this thing was beyond what we call medical devices. It was not related to medicine.
Brent Raynes: As I remember, John Fuller wrote the book, Arigo, Surgeon of the Rusty Knife, and it was just a little pocket knife that he took and he plunged it up around Dr. Puharich’s eye…
William Henry Belk: No, you’ve got that wrong. He did that to a man who had an infection in the eye. Took the pocket knife and pulled his eyeball out on the eyeball stem, which is impossible to do. In other words, if I go into your eye with a pocket knife or a table knife it would beak the stem off. I was about to vomit. But he cured him. So I knew immediately that this had nothing to do with medicine.
Brent Raynes: With Dr. Puharich it was something in his arm?
William Henry Belk: Something in his arm yes. I took that picture. A fatty substance. They call it lipoma.
Brent Raynes: Have you ever met Uri Geller?
William Henry Belk: Yeah. Andrija Puharich brought him to the United States with him. He was researched at the Stanford Research Institute in California.
Brent Raynes: Do you feel that he had genuine abilities?
William Henry Belkv: Definitely. He’s for real and I think he’s half scared of whoever is doing this. He’s had all kinds of materializations take place on him. I don’t see why the religious people aren’t interested in these things. It’s direct proof. That’s a paradox.
Editor’s Note: Sadly Mr. Belk passed away a few years back. This interview appeared in our magazine Alternate Perceptions (# 42, Spring 1998) back when we were a print publication. As you can tell from reading this feature, this gentleman was deeply involved in playing a significant role in many earlier and fascinating investigations in the modern paranormal field. This interview, as with many interviews I had done some years back for this magazine, came about because of our dear friend and colleague Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz who had known, recommended, and put us in touch with many major early players in the paranormal field.