Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sabbats of Wicca

 

Because witches honor nature, they have eight festivals, or Sabbats, that mark the year as it turns through its seasons. The following is basic information about these Sabbats, and includes both standard Wiccan information as well as my personal Sabbat lore and experiences, in other words, what I perceive the Sabbats to be.

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  • Samhain happens near Halloween and is when the Wiccan year begins. My altar cloth is black, because we are in the time of year that is dark. On my altar is the harvest, our "dead Lord" whose life is in the crops and "sacrificed" when the crops are killed to become our food. This is the time of death, of honoring and communing with spirits that have passed to the other side. Now the veil between the worlds is thin. It is a good time to invite our beloved dead to visit with us. This is not a gruesome exchange, but reverent, earthy, natural, further it is joyous and festive. Victor Anderson says "If a ghost of a loved one shows up, ask him to join the party."
  • Yule or winter solstice happens near December 21, which is the longest darkest night of the year. The dark of Winter is safe like my bedcovers at night. Dark whispers of a Mother's love caress me. In the darkness of the Mother's womb, the void I am safe, sustained, at peace. and can move inward, into my own dark self, looking, learning, purifying. I can cleanse myself of all that blocks me from being born new with the rising new solstice sun when the sun king is born, with promises for the Spring ahead.
  • Brigid or Candlemas, on February 2, is the festival of the Goddess Brigid, patron of poetry, healing, and metalsmithing. Brigid's poetry inspires me to shake off winter's sleep now, stretch and start to get ready for Spring. I am still drowsy.
  • Spring Equinox happens about March 21, and I pass from one time into the other, yet am between one time and another. I completely shed winter's sleep. As a time of passing, transition, it is powerful - a time of balance - equal day and equal night - so a time of magic. I am poised between being bound, and the movement of Spring. Bound like sleeping beauty who is released by love's kiss into the violent passion of Spring. Bound as in the cosmic egg, which exploded when the cosmos was hatched. Explosive moment of creation - moving dynamically chaotically.
  • Beltane or May-Day, is a celebration of love. And we're talking Pagan now! Love -- moon rhymes with June, so the universe gets created.  The Ancient people, from the Priests and Priestesses to the farmers understood the power of love: loving company between two people is an echo of the act that created all things. No, let me rephrase that: it IS the act of creation.
  • Summer Solstice happens about June 21. All things move in spirals, and I watch the year move in a spiral, right now spiraling up to the sun's climax. I celebrate summer and the heat of the Gods.
  • Lammas is August 1. Now the Corn King dies as his body is harvested from the fields so that I may be fed, so that I may live, so that I may go into the winter months of darkness rich with his blood and love in my veins. The Dark King, Shepherd of souls, becomes stronger now. With WInter I will go inward, to the inner depths of my own soul. And HE will embrace me with His love in the coming trials and celebrations of the Wintertime. Some of my crops are harvested and I give thanks. Some of my crops are not yet ready and I must insure their harvest.
  • Fall Equinox happens near or on September 21.Today, the length of night time is equal to the length of daytime. At the Equinox, I become aware that this time is not the balance, or rather the order, one usually sees in nature. Nature is not really balanced. But ordered. A cyprus by the ocean grows windblown by ocean storm and wind, bowing towards the earth. That cyprus is the usual balance or order of nature - stable, poised, in harmony. ALL of nature leans like the ocean-blown cyprus towards the dark earth. But Fall Equinox is a balance of light and dark, night and day and therefore is truly an outlandish moment in time: equality, a equal balancing, an actual moment of balance. I draw on my roots in the darkness, yet revel in the kiss of summer breeze and sun.
    I face the darkness of the fall and winter ahead and so face mysteries. The Goddess has surprises for me in the wintry months ahead that will surpass my best hopes.

A Necromancy ritual by Justin H. Guess

 

Necromancy is the occult practice of summoning spirits of the dead and the most popular ritual comes from French occultist Elphas Lévi’s book Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual.

The process of summoning a spirit of the dead takes about a month, but the first step is to redecorate a room in your home to the spirits liking. Place in the room personal artifacts of the deceased. Central to the redecorating is a portrait or photograph of the person, which is covered with white cloth at all times. On the floor in front of the image of the deceased should be a magic circle and triangle of arts, as described in the grimoire The Goetia. The room should be completed two weeks prior to a date that was special to the deceased, such as their birthday or anniversary.

Next is obtaining and mixing the ingredients for the incense. The most commonly used are clove (Syzygium aromaticum), sandalwood (Santalum), dittany of Crete (Origanum dictamnus), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), frankincense (Boswellia) and myrrh (Commiphora). This mixture will be burned on charcoal in a cast iron pot each time you exit the room.

Each day for two weeks, the practitioner follows a strict set of guidelines, including fasting, in order to achieve success. At the same time every evening, walk into the room with only a lit taper candle. Set it on the floor and surround the deceased’s portrait/photograph with their favorite flowers; sweep old flowers away. Sit with your back to the lit taper and eat in silence without looking up. After you have eaten, fumigate the room with incense and then walk out backwards with the taper.

On the special evening at the same time as every night for the past two weeks, it is finally time to summon the deceased person’s spirit after your dinner for two. Dress in white and take a loaf of bread, two glasses of wine and the lit taper into the room with you on a platter. Also, bring dried cypress (Cupressaceae) wood. Set half of the loaf and a glass of wine in front of the portrait/photograph and the other half of bread and glass of wine in front of you. Set the taper behind you. Again, eat in silence and do not look up. When you have finished with your bread and wine, place the cypress in the cast iron pot and light it on fire. Extinguish your taper. Throw seven pinches of incense into the fire, each time calling out the name of the spirit that is to be summoned. When the flames finally go out, throw a final pinch of incense on the ash and invoke the resurrection deity of your choice (Jesus, Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Persephone, Attis, etc.), describing who you are, who you wish to contact and why. Cover your eyes and call the person’s name six times.

In occult lore, this ritual will allow anyone to see and even speak to a deceased person’s spirit.

Giant Human Bones: Truth or Tale

Giant Bones

The mystery surrounding reports of “giant skeletons” has always intrigued and fascinated me. Specifically, how it seemed to be a common ocurrence that human-like bone remains, often of giant proportions, were known for popping up everywhere in the mid-to-late 1800s, as featured in reports like these:

  • During an 1879 excavation of an Indian mound near Brewersville, Indiana, a nine-foot eight inch skeleton was found buried within.
  • Around the same time, George W. Hill, M.D., also unearthed a skeleton said to be “of unusual size” while excavating a mound in Ashland County, Ohio.
  • In 1880, American Antiquarian, volume three, reported that a Doctor Everhart allegedly found another large skeleton “reported to have been of enormous dimensions” in a strange clay coffin along with a sandstone slab marked with unidentified hieroglyphics near Zanesville Ohio.
  • In 1881 in Medina County, Ohio, a succession of nine bodies were found below the cellar of a house, buried as though the corpses had been “dumped into a ditch.” Albert Harris, one of the residents, was twenty years old at the time of the grave’s discovery, and removing one of the large skeletons, said that he could literally fit the piece over his entire head and allow it to rest on his shoulders like a large helmet, even while wearing a cap underneath!

Still, we’ve all heard of how even well known authors of the era, including Mark Twain, contributed to the telling of “whoppers” in their day; that is, many writers who got their feet wet as newspaper writers for dailies would occasionally cook up tall tales when local news just wasn’t doing it (see a great example of this here). Eventually, I decided to try and find out if there might be any reports that could be verified with more certainty, and after some digging around in public domain archives, I found a couple.


In their 1894 report to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, Cyrus Thomas and Thomas Powell of the Bureau of Ethnology wrote of several discoveries where large human skeletal remains were found, the first ocurring in Roane County, Tennessee:
“Underneath the layer of shells the earth was very dark and appeared to be mixed with vegetable mold to the depth of 1 foot. At the bottom of this, resting on the original surface of the ground, was a very large skeleton lying horizontally at full length. Although very soft, the bones were sufficiently distinct to allow of careful measurement before attempting to remove them. The length from the base of the skull to the bones of the toes was found to be 7 feet 3 inches. It is probable, therefore, that this individual when living was fully 7½ feet high.”


And yet another instance, this time in presumed Indian burial mounds at Dunlieth, Illinois:
“Near the original surface, 10 or 12 feet from the center, on the lower side, lying at full length on its back, was one of the largest skeletons discovered by the Bureau agents, the length as proved by actual measurement being between 7 and 8 feet. It was clearly traceable, but crumbled to pieces immediately after removal from the hard earth in which it was encased….”
Indeed, it seems that the Smithsonian at one time reported oddities like these which they uncovered, especially during the “giant boom” of the late nineteenth century. Still, I can’t help but ask; if these kinds of discoveries were ever at all commonplace, why aren’t skeletons and other anomalies like this found more frequently in modern times… or are they?

During an email exchange I had last year with my good friend and mentor, Brad Steiger, we began discussing a few similar reports which he had included in his book Worlds Before Our Own, where a few such skeletons were said to exist in private museums. ”After the book was published, I learned of even more and included photos of them in my lectures,” he told me. ”Soon, individuals beseeched me to cease; the private museums were mysteriously suffering unexplained fires.” One is left to ask; what about anomalous relics of this (or any) sort could be so worthy of censorship on such a level?


Further complicating the mystery of missing giant bones is the following exerpt from an article I wrote which included the inquiries of the late zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson, best known for his interest in the legends regarding America’s Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowmen alleged to reside in the Himalayas:
“Sometime in the 1960s, Sanderson wrote about an odd letter he received regarding an engineer who, during World War II, had been stationed on the Aleutian island of Shemya. While building an airstrip, the bulldozing of a group of hills in the area led the engineer and his crew to unearth several sedimentary layers of human remains. They noted the extraordinary length of the crania and leg bones at the site, having apparently belonged to people of gigantic proportions. The skulls were said to have measured up to 24 inches from base to crown, far greater than the length of an average human skull. Also of interest was that each was said to have been trepanned, the strange process of drilling or cutting a hole and removing a top center portion of the skull, thought by some ancient cultures to enable a variety of alleged “benefits”, including psychic abilities, etc. Sanderson actively began to search for more proof of this incident, and later was able to contact another member of the unit who also confirmed the bizarre story. By all accounts, the remains were said to have been gathered by the Smithsonian Institution, but no record of where they were taken was ever issued. Sanderson seemed convinced that the institute did indeed retrieve them however, going so far as to ask ‘is it that these people cannot face rewriting all the textbooks?’

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Cursed Ring: Valentino ring

In the vault of a Los Angeles bank lies a silver ring set with a semiprecious stone. It is not a particularly pretty ring or even a very valuable one, and chances are that no one will ever dare to wear it again. The ring lies in the vault because it bears one of the most malignant curses in the history of the occult. Successive owners have suffered injury, misfortune, even death. And many people still believe it was this ring that sent Rudolph Valentino to a premature grave. Certainly, the violent incidents that have surrounded it over the years can hardly be shrugged off as mere coincidences.


Rudolph Valentino (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926) was an Italian actor, sex symbol, and early pop icon. Known as the "Latin Lover", he was one of the most popular stars of the 1920s, and one of the most recognized stars from the silent film era. He is best known for his work in The Sheik and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Valentino was born Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi in Castellaneta, Italy, to a French mother, Marie Berthe Gabrielle Barbin (1856 - 1919), and Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fidele Guglielmi, a veterinarian who died of malaria, then widespread in Southern Italy, when Valentino was 11. He had an older brother, Alberto (1892-1981), a younger sister, Maria, and an older sister Beatrice who died in infancy.

As a child, Valentino was reportedly spoiled and troublesome. His mother coddled him while his father disapproved of his behavior. He did poorly in school, and was eventually enrolled in agricultural school where he received a degree. After living in Paris in 1912, he soon returned to Italy. Unable to secure employment, he departed for the United States in 1913. He was processed at Ellis Island at age 18 on December 23, 1913.


In 1917, Valentino joined an operetta company that traveled to Utah where it disbanded. He then joined an Al Jolson production of Robinson Crusoe Jr., travelling to Los Angeles. By fall, he was in San Francisco with a bit part in a theatrical production of Nobody Home. While in town, Valentino met actor Norman Kerry, who convinced him to try a career in cinema, still in the silent film era.


By 1919, he had carved out a career in bit parts. It was a bit part as a "cabaret parasite" in the drama The Eyes of Youth that caught the attention of screenwriter June Mathis, who thought he would be perfect for her next movie.
It was in 1920 that Valentino, at the peak of his success, saw the ring in a San Francisco jeweller's. The proprietor warned him that the ring was a jinx, but Valentino still bought it. He wore the ring in his next picture, The Young Rajah. It was the biggest flop of his career and he was off the screen for the next two years. Valentino did not wear the ring again until he used it as a costume prop in The Son of the Sheik. Three weeks after finishing this film, he went to New York on vacation. While wearing the ring, he suffered an acute attack of appendicitis. Two weeks later, he was dead.


Shortly after Rudolph Valentino’s untimely death in August 1926, stories began to circulate that the great Latin lover’s ghost haunted his favorite places. Falcon Lair, the dream home he had built on Bella Drive for his bride Natacha Rambova, became the most commonly reported site for ectoplasmic manifestations of the departed Valentino.


Pola Negri, a famous female movie star of the time, asked to pick a memento from Valentino's possessions, chose the ring-and almost immediately suffered a long period of ill health that threatened to end her career. A year later, while convalescing, she met a performer who was almost Valentino's double, Russ Colombo.


Miss Negri was so struck by the resemblance that she gave him Rudolph's ring, saying, "From one Valentino to another." Within a few days of receiving the gift, Russ Colombo was killed in a freak shooting accident. His cousin passed the ring on to Russ's best friend, Joe Casino. Also at the height of his popularity as an entertainer, Casino took no chances with the ring. Instead of wearing it, he kept it in a glass case in memory of his dead friend. When he was asked to donate it to a museum of Valentino relics, he refused, saying that he treasured it for sentimental reasons. As time passed, Joe Casino forgot the ring's evil reputation and put it on. A week later, still wearing the ring, he was knocked down by a truck and killed.
By now the curse was front-page news. When asked what he proposed to do with the ring, Joe's brother, Del, explained that he could not allow himself to be intimidated by a curse, or jinx, or ghost, or whatever it was. He didn't believe in things like that. Del Casino wore the ring for some time and nothing unusual happened. Then he lent it to a collector of Valentino relics, who suffered no ill effects either. This caused several newspapers to speculate that at last the evil influence of the ring had come to an end. And that seemed to trigger off a new wave of violence.


One night soon afterward, the home of Del Casino was burgled. The police saw the burglar, a man named James Willis, running from the scene. One of them fired a warning shot, but the bullet went low and killed Willis. Among the loot found in his possession was the Valentino ring. It was at this time that Hollywood producer Edward Small decided to make a film based on Valentino's career.


Jack Dunn, a former skating partner to ice star Sonja Henie, bore a great resemblance to Rudolph and was asked to make a film test for the part. He dressed in Valentino's clothes for the test - and also wore the jinxed ring. Only twenty-one years old at the time, Dunn died ten days later from a rare blood disease. After this tragedy the ring was kept out of sight and never worn by anyone again, but that did not seem to curb its fatal influence.


A year after Jack Dunn's death, a daring raid was carried out in broad daylight on a Los Angeles bank in which thieves got away with a haul of over $200,000. In a subsequent police ambush, two of the gang were caught and three passersby seriously injured.


The leader of the bank robbers, Alfred Hahn, was jailed for life. At his trial, Hahn remarked: "If I'd known what was in the vault apart from money, I'd have picked myself another bank." For in the bank's safe deposit vault was the Valentino ring.

How to: Astral Projection

 

This technique needs to be done after a full six hours of sleep, ideally in the wee hours of the morning. Start by setting your alarm clock for exactly six hours from the time you lay down to sleep.

So if you lay down at 8:15pm, set your alarm for 2:15am and the go to sleep. When the alarm rings, get up and out of bed. Plan to stay fully awake for an hour.

If you need to, splash your face with cold water, walk around or do something to fully waken yourself.

After an hour, lay back down. Follow these five steps and get ready for an Out of Body Experience.

 

Step 1: Focus on your Third Eye

With your eyes opened, roll them up so that they’re looking at the center of your forehead, between your eyebrows. This will feel uncomfortable, but you won’t keep this focus for long. Once your eyes are focused (you’ll feel like you’re ‘crossing’ them), touch a finger between your eyebrows then pull it about three inches from your head. Follow your finger with your eyes and then close your eyes. Drop your hand but keep your eyes focused on that point where your finger was, even with your eyes closed.

At this point you can say to yourself, “I now put my body in sleep paralysis” as you imagine yourself leaping out of an airplane or very tall building.

 

Step 2: Relaxation

When you start to feel your body vibrate, you can relax your eyes. At this point you want to be sure your entire body is fully relaxed. You can affirm this by repeating to yourself “my body is completely relaxed. I now move myself to the next level. As my body falls asleep, my mind remains awake.” Remain in this state until you begin seeing pictures, colors or even video images. When these appear, you know you’re getting close to having an out of body experience.

At this point it’s important that you avoid physical movement of any kind, this will disrupt the process.

 

Step 3: Vibrational Pulsing

Bring you attention to your body and try to feel for the vibrations that underlie the stillness. This can be challenging at first because you’re trying to perceive extremely subtle energies. A good way to begin to get a sense of these vibrations is by tuning in to your heart beat and imagining waves of vibration flowing in time with the beats. If this doesn’t work, try refocusing on your third eye in time with the beating of your heart. Keep your eyes closed and the rest of your body totally relaxed as you do this.

Keep focusing on the vibrations until they either intensify or subside.

 

Step 4: Watching

Now bring your attention to any images, colors or videos you might be ‘seeing’ with your eyes closed. It’s at this point that a lot of people fall asleep, but if you can stay conscious now, you’re almost ready to project yourself out of your body. Be sure to keep your body fully relaxed. If you feel tension rising anywhere you can again repeat to yourself, “I am fully relaxed” and “I now move to the next level.”

 

Step 5: Floating

The only thing left to do now is wait until you feel yourself begin to float up and out of your body. This may be accompanied by intense vibrations, but if you stay relaxed, you’ll find yourself up and out! At this point you can do what you want. All you need to do is picture where you want to be or who you want to be with in your minds eye and you’ll instantly be there.

Why Cannibalism was followed?

Cannibalism

The Wild West provided many horror stories. But few can beat the fate of George Donner’s wagon train, taking new settlers to California. In August 1846 it took a wrong turn and got lost in the Sierra Nevada. Starving, the 26 men, 14 women and 44 children decided on a new method of staying alive. They ate each other. The settlers became cannibals - and they are not alone.


CASES OF CANNIBALISM
During Napoleon’s retreat from Russia in 1812 some 12,000 men perished at Vilna in December. Over three days the cold and starvation got so much that many began to eat parts of the already dead. Some four years later - in July 1816 - the French frigate Medusa ran aground off Senegal. Some 151 men built a raft and attempted to escape. Starvation, drowning and eventually murder led to ten surviving. Many of them had been eaten. One of the worst modern cases concerned a Uruguayan plane en route to Chile in the winter of 1972, with 45 people onboard. It crashed in the Andes. Slowly they began to die of cold and starvation. After ten days it was decided to eat the recently dead in order to survive. Although eight died in an avalanche, only 19 of the original 45 survived.


CANNIBALS OF THE PAST
In the above cases we can see people turning to cannibalism in order to survive. But there is much more to cannibalism than this. The practice seems to be ancient indeed. Engravings of early Native Americans depict them eating limbs. Many African tribes were cannibal, bringing us the stereotypical image of placing the missionary in the pot. Remains of Peking Man, discovered in 1972 near Choukoutein in China, and possibly half a million years old, show evidence of human skulls split open and their brains extracted. The Christian St Jerome wrote of cannibalism in Scotland in the 4th century AD. Greek historian Strabo said that tribes in Ireland practised it. As a normal tribal practice, it survived longest in Borneo and the Amazon basin - areas where Christian missionaries were wary of going.


WHAT EATS US?
So fascinated have we been of the practice that writers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau and Jules Verne used cannibals as fictional heroes; and to this day we like a good fictional cannibal, Hannibal Lecter being an obvious example. When survival isn’t an obvious reason for cannibalism, why did so many people indulge? The Missionary James Chambers decided, after studying people in New Guinea in the 1940s, that it was all down to taste. Human flesh simply tasted the best. This agreed with 19th century explorer Alfred St Johnston, who argued the Fijians ate human flesh for its own sake. Studies of modern western cannibals offer another dimension.


FLESH EATING KILLERS
When Wisconsin necrophile Ed Gein was arrested in 1957 he was found to be sexually frustrated, and had been digging up new female corpses for years. As well as satisfying himself sexually, he devoured parts of them. Wayne Boden, arrested in Calgary, Canada, in 1971, was dubbed as the ‘Vampire Rapist’. This is misleading. Raping and killing four women, most of whom he had already dated, he would bite deeply into breasts and neck. This is as close to cannibalism as you can get. Many sexual assaults - usually caused by being ‘too rough’ with a sexual partner - can go as far as biting off nipples and swallowing them. At the lower end of the scale we have the love bite.


SEX AND SPIRITUALITY
Many researchers argue that this is a sexual form of absolute possession, and extremely sexually charged. It seems that many of us are closer to being cannibals than we dare to admit. Cannibalism tended to die out in tribal societies when Christian missionaries arrived. Some researchers argue this is because these tribes suddernly understood the concept of the soul. However, this does not stand up to scrutiny. The Christian Eucharist involves symbolic cannibalism with bread and wine being symbolic of the body and blood of Christ. A further problem is that virtually all tribal societies understood a form of soul. Indeed, ritualised cannibalism of this sort can be seen as ’soul’ driven. In eating dead enemies, cannibalism can be seen as controlling the spirits of their enemies. When eating relatives - especially older ones - it is as if the cannibal is imbibing the attributes of wisdom or courage of the ‘victim’. For instance, some Amazon tribes ate the bone ash of their kin - this is certainly not taste driven, but far more fundamental.


ENHANCING THE HUMAN
As late as 1654 a Silesian bandit was recorded eating an unborn baby’s heart to make himself stronger. Again, we have the hint that cannibalism is an enabling practice. Hungarian anthropologist Oscar Maerth went so far as to argue that cannibalism was responsible for the birth in intelligent thought. Half a million years ago we became human through eating the brains of other humans, thus increasing our intelligence. This idea seems absurd, yet an experiment with planarian worms is worrying. Taught to navigate a maze, the worm is killed and fed to another. This other worm is able to negotiate the maze immediately. Even more interesting is the fact that some tadpoles eat adult members of their own species so that they grow to adulthood faster.


IT’S DEADLY, YOU KNOW
Cannibalism is a far more interesting subject than the horror of it suggests. The word itself is derived from the Caribs of South America and the Caribbean, who were said to eat people by their Spaniard conquerers. Yet, with recent knowledge of Kuru - a spongiform brain disease exhibited by cannibals in the South Pacific in the 1950s - we are beginning to see that cannibalism is deadly. This presents a paradox. If cannibalism was so widespread, how did tribal societies survive? If they all indulged, why did they not all die of a spongiform disease? Perhaps because only a select few may have become cannibals in any one tribe.


RITUAL PRACTICES
Most tribal ritual throughout the world was orchestrated by a hysteric known as a shaman. He has many other names such as witchdoctor or medicine man. These special people were chosen at an early age and brought up differently to other tribesmen. Usually natural schizophrenics, they could go into trances and speak with spirits. Another essential practice of many tribal societies was sacrifice. In this way, they appeased the spirits. Yet could it be that early tribal societies realised that eating certain parts of the same species - brains, for instance - caused a strange affliction many years down the road, which we could identify as a spongyform? If so, a stage of delerium would come where many of the attributes of shamanism would be seen. And with the end result being sacrifice, perhaps cannibalism was a real route through which a tribe communed with their gods.

The Legend of Bloody Countess

 

Countess Elizabeth Bathory, Elizabeth (Erzsebet) Bathory ( 7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614), was a Hungarian countess from the renowned Bathory family, has often been described as “Countess Dracula.” She is possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history and is remembered as the "Blood Countess" and as the "Bloody Lady of Cachtice", after the castle near Trencsén (Trencín), in the Kingdom of Hungary, where she spent most of her adult life. The Báthory family defended Hungary against the Ottoman Turks. After her husband's death, she and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and young women, with one witness attributing to them over 600 victims, though she was only convicted on 80 counts. In 1610, she was imprisoned in Cachtice Castle, where she remained bricked in a set of rooms until her death four years later. She was never formally tried in court. The case has led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins in order to retain her youth. These stories have led to comparisons with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia, on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based, and to modern nicknames of the Blood Countess, Bloody Countess and Countess Dracula. The Bathory family was an old and illustrious one—one of the oldest in Transylvania in fact.

bloody countess elizabeth bathory
The family traced its descendency from Vid Bathory, a legendary and mighty warrior who had allegedly slain a dragon with a mace in what is now eastern Romania. This may have created the motif for the Romanian Christian knight Iorgi—also said to have killed a dragon— who later became St. George, patron saint of England. They were also related by what looks to have been incestuous marriages amongst various other members of similar clans. Her mother, Anna Bathory, was the sister of King Stephen of Poland, and her father Iorgi (George—her mother’s third husband) was the ruler of several countries.


However, instances of inbreeding had led to rumours of madness and monstrous births in former years. Elizabeth Bathory was born into this troubled lineage in 1560. Her mother was a devout Calvinist and an exceptionally strong character, and her father, George, was a hard-working man who had held several administrative posts under the Hapsburgs. She had at least one elder brother, one of the many Stephens (a popular name among the male Bathorys) and two younger sisters, Klara and Sofia, who disappeared from history without trace. In 1571 at age 11, Elizabeth was promised in marriage to the fifteen yearold Count Ferenc (Francis) Nadasdy, fabulously wealthy and reckoned to be one of the most eligible bachelors in Hungary at that time.


Such young betrothals were not uncommon and were usually for political reasons rather than any sort of romantic notions. In order to acquire the notable family name, Francis changed his own to that of Bathory, giving him the tradition of that family, as well as its notoriety. Francis and Elizabeth waited four years to marry, finally doing so on 8th May 1575. Elizabeth was sent from the Bathory castle and into the care of her mother-in-law, the formidable Lady Ursula Kasnizsai. Whilst she was at the court of Lady Nadasdy, plagues and epidemics raged through Eastern Europe, carrying away the poor and wretched in the villages of Hungary.
The tides of illnesses and disease, however, simply lapped around the walls of the castle at Savarin, keeping everyone there confined. Elizabeth found herself increasingly under the control of her severe and dominant mother-in-law. It was around this time that she was, according to legend, visited by a “black stranger,” perhaps a forest demon to whom she is said to have given herself. What actually might have transpired is that she had an affair with one (or more) of the servants, leading to the supposition that she may very well have been sexually promiscuous. When her mother-in-law died, Elizabeth joined her husband at the remote Csejthe Castle.


By this time, the Muslim Turks were making advances and (as they had done in Vlad III’s time) the Christian forces were trying to limit their expansion. Count Francis was now a solider in the Hungarian army and had distinguished himself in battle becoming known as “The Black Hero of Hungary.” He was consequently away fighting against Turkish incursions for much of his time, leaving his wife alone in the gloomy fortress. It was now that Elizabeth fell under various influences. The servants at Csejthe, for the most part, were local people, steeped in local lore and legend. The area seemed to have been superstitious and filled with old tales and practices, many of which stretched back across the centuries. Certain servants appear to have initiated Elizabeth into rather unsavoury practices. Elizabeth may well have been attracted to lesbianism (she had an aunt who was renowned throughout Hungary in this respect) and this may have played a prominent role in some of the occurrences at Csejthe.


An old servant woman named Darvula—locally regarded as a witch—together with a maid named Dorottya Szentes, seem to have played a major part in the terrible acts that were to make Elizabeth Bathory’s name a by-word for evil and depravation. To these may be added the name Janos (or Johannes) Ujvary, who is described as Elizabeth’s majordomo. There seems little doubt that many of these “practices,” whilst reeking of dark witchcraft, also contained sexual elements.
In 1600, Count Francis was killed in battle against the Turks and it was now that the real period of Elizabeth’s atrocities began. She was now mistress of Csejthe and a formidable power in the locality. However, the depravity of her life was beginning to tell on her physically—she appeared to be growing old and haggard much more swiftly than she would have liked. It is here that legend takes over.


According to one popular tale, a young maidservant was brushing the Countess’s hair when she accidentally pulled it. Angered, Elizabeth struck her across the face, so sharply that she drew blood. Later, looking at the area on which the girl’s blood had fallen, the Countess imagined that the skin seemed younger and fresher than the skin around it. She consulted with the witch Darvula and learned that it was imagined in the countryside that the blood of a virgin, accompanied by certain abominable rites, had youth-giving properties.


This set Elizabeth off on a bloody and murderous trail. Together with her accomplices, she began to recruit young local girls from the villages round about, ostensibly to work as servants at Csethje, but in reality to be murdered within the castle walls. Each day, the Countess would bathe in their blood in the belief that it returned at least some of her youthful looks. There were accounts of her actually drinking the blood as a restorative medicine. Most of the girls whom Elizabeth and her cohorts murdered came from the Slovak population of Hungary—girls who were often considered of the “lower order” in society. For a while, the authorities did not overly worry about the disappearance of the girls.


The official story was that they had contracted illness and died. For a number of years—roughly between 1601 and 1611—the Countess murdered innumerable servant girls with impunity and without any official enquiry. Many people, particularly in the locality, either knew or suspected what was going on within the castle but none dared voice it. Once a Lutheran pastor spoke out against her, claiming that there was a great and horrific evil going on in Csethje, including cannibal feasts and blood-drinking orgies, and although initially his words fell on largely deaf ears, some people started to pay attention.


A legend says that one of the girls who the Countess was about to kill managed to escape and raised the alarm in the surrounding countryside, although this is not extremely likely. What is more likely is that the rumours surrounding the Countess continued to grow until they reached the ears of King Matthias II, who had no other option but to investigate. He planned his raid to happen over the Christmas holiday while the Hungarian Parliament was not in session. On December 29, 1610, Count Thurzo's raid on Castle Csejthe began. When they entered the castle they found a beaten body of a servant girl before the door. Inside the house they found two other dead female victims, of which Elizabeth and her cohorts had not yet disposed of.
In 1611, a series of trials conducted by the King himself were set up and the servants, Darvula and Dorottya Szentes, along with Janos Ujvary, were all found guilty of witchcraft and murder, and were executed. Elizabeth herself was not found guilty of any crime—indeed her noble rank saved her from criminal proceedings—but she was commanded to remain in Csejthe at the pleasure of the Hungarian king. To this end, stonemasons were brought in and Elizabeth was walled up in the apartments where she had committed the majority of her atrocities. Only a small aperture was left through which food could be passed into her. All the windows of that section of the castle were also bricked up, leaving her alone in the darkness. There she was to remain until she died.


Accusations
In 1610 and 1611 the notaries collected testimonies from more than 300 witness accounts. Trial records include testimonies of the four defendants, as well as 13 more witnesses. Priests, noblemen and commoners were questioned. Witnesses included the castellan and other personnel of Sárvár castle. According to these testimonies, her initial victims were local peasant girls, many of whom were lured to Cachtice by offers of well-paid work as maidservants in the castle. Later she is said to have begun to kill daughters of lower gentry, who were sent to her gynaeceum by their parents to learn courtly etiquette. Abductions were said to have occurred as well.


At the trial there were accusations of pagan practices and witchcraft. The trial did not follow modern judicial standards, but as was common at that time, the processes included torture and intimidation. The descriptions of torture that emerged during the trials were often based on hearsay. The atrocities described most consistently included:

  • severe beatings over extended periods of time, often leading to death.
  • burning or mutilation of hands, sometimes also of faces and genitalia.
  • biting the flesh off the faces, arms and other bodily parts.
  • freezing to death.surgery on victims, often fatal.
  • starving of victims.
  • sexual abuse.


The use of needles was also mentioned by the collaborators in court. Some witnesses named relatives who died while at the gynaeceum. Others reported having seen traces of torture on dead bodies, some of which were buried in graveyards, and others in unmarked locations.


According to testimonies by the defendants, Elizabeth Báthory tortured and killed her victims not only at Cachtice but also on her properties in Sárvár, Sopronkeresztúr, Bratislava, (then Pozsony, Pressburg), and Vienna, and even between these locations. In addition to the defendants, several people were named for supplying Elizabeth Báthory with young women. The girls had been procured either by deception or by force. A little-known figure named Anna Darvulia was rumored to have influenced Báthory but Darvulia died long before the trial.
The exact number of young women supposedly tortured and killed by Elizabeth Báthory is unknown, though it is often speculated to be as high as 650, between the years 1585 and 1610. The estimates differ greatly. During the trial and before their execution, Szentes and Ficko reported 36 and 37 respectively, during their periods of service. The other defendants estimated a number of 50 or higher. Many Sárvár castle personnel estimated the number of bodies removed from the castle at between 100 to 200. One witness who spoke at the trial mentioned a book in which a total of over 650 victims was supposed to have been listed by Báthory herself. This number became part of the legend surrounding Báthory. Reportedly, diaries in Báthory's hand are kept in the state archives in Budapest. Supposedly the diaries are difficult to read due to the condition of the material, the old language, the hand-writing and the horrific content. However, supposing such diaries exist, none of the many successive regimes which took power at Budapest during the following centuries had seen fit to publish them.


On 31st July 1614, Elizabeth (then reputedly age fifty-four) dictated her last will and testament to two priests from the Estergom bishopric. What remained of her family holdings were to be divided between her children, with her son Paul and his descendants receiving the main portion. Shortly afterwards, two of her guards decided that they would try to look at her through the aperture through which she was fed—she was supposedly still the most beautiful woman in all of Hungary. When they looked through, however, they saw only the body of the Countess, lying face down on the floor.


The bloody Countess was dead in her lonely, lightless world. The records concerning Elizabeth Bathory were sealed for one hundred years and her name was forbidden to be mentioned throughout Hungary. The name “Csejthe” became a swear word in the Hungarian tongue and the Slovaks within the borders of the country referred to the Countess obliquely as “the Hungarian whore.” The shadow of Elizabeth Bathory fell darkly across her lands for many centuries after her death. Although there is no real evidence that Bram Stoker used the idea of the “Countess Dracula” in his vampire novel, there is no reason why he should not have known about her.


In fact, she may well have served as the template for another Irish writer’s vampiric tale. This was Carmilla written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, originally published in 1871 in the magazine The Dark Blue. In this tale, a vampiric older girl subtly and evilly influences the impressionable mind of her younger companion. There are, of course, undertones of lesbianism and bloodlust in the story that provide a tangible link with the “Blood Countess.” In her own way, Elizabeth Bathory was as influential to the vampire myth as Vlad Tepes. The dark and sinister figure of the vampire has proved to be one of the most enduring motifs of horror across the centuries. And this most enduring of monsters looks set to continue its haunting of the minds of men and women for many years to come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Weeping Boy Painting

 

The legend around this painting is as grim as it gets. The stories began around 1985, when several mysterious fires occurred all around England. When the debris was sifted through the only item that remained un-charred was a painting of a little boy with a tear rolling his cheek in every fire. Could this all be coincidence?
Whether real or not a Yorkshire fireman was so upset that he talked with the “Sun” newspaper in England. They ran his story about how everything in the home was consumed by fire except for a painting of a crying boy. There were at that time more than one of these paintings around and each seemed to have the same effect. The home and all contents would be totally destroyed but the painting of the little crying boy would not show any sign at all of going through a fire. The newspaper began receiving telephone calls from people all over the area that had similar stories to tell about the crying boy painting. One person that called the “Sun” was Dora Mann of Mitcham and she has been quoted as saying "Only six months after I had bought the picture, my house was completely gutted by fire. All my paintings were destroyed, except the one of the crying boy." After one month of hearing all the tales, the “Sun” gave their readers the chance to bring their crying boy paintings and agreed to have a very large bon fire to rid everyone of this cursed or jinxed painting. All paintings that were brought to the newspaper were in fact burned and everyone rejoiced.

Crying Boy Painting Curse image
However, the story goes on. There have been reports of the crying boy painting being found in charred homes untouched since 1985 and as recent as 1988.
No one knows for sure who the artists might be and where he got the idea to paint a portrait of a crying boy, the rumors are many and the tale is still around. The fact is beware if you find a beautiful painting of a sad, little crying boy.
‘The Curse of the Crying Boy’ appeared out of the blue one morning in 1985. The Sun, at that time the most popular tabloid newspaper in the English-speaking world, published on page 13 of its 4 September edition a story headlined: “Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy”. It told how Ron and May Hall blamed a cheap painting of a toddler with tears rolling down his face for a fire which gutted their terraced council home in Rotherham, a mining town in South Yorkshire. The blaze broke out in a chip-pan in the kitchen of their home of 27 years and spread rapidly. But although the downstairs rooms of the house were badly damaged, the framed print of the Crying Boy escaped unscathed. It continued to hang there, surrounded by a scene of devastation.


Normally a chip-pan blaze would merit nothing more than a couple of paragraphs in a local newspaper. What transformed this story into a page lead in Britain’s leading tabloid was the intervention of Ron Hall’s brother Peter, a firefighter based in Rotherham. A colleague of Peter’s, station officer Alan Wilkinson, said he knew of numerous other cases where prints of the ‘Crying Boy’ had turned up, undamaged, in the ruins of homes destroyed by fires. Accompanying the article was a photograph of a ‘Crying Boy’, with the caption: “Tears for fears… the portrait that firemen claim is cursed.”


The firemen concerned had not actually used the word ‘cursed’, but nevertheless the newspaper report had helped to give the story a certain level of credibility. The paper added that an estimated 50,000 ‘Crying Boy’ prints, signed ‘G Bragolin’, had been sold in branches of British department stores, particularly in the working class areas of northern England. Examples could be seen hanging in the front rooms of family homes across the nation, and one story even suggested a quarter of a million had been sold.


After one month of hearing all the tales, the “Sun” gave their readers the chance to bring their “Crying boy” paintings and agreed to have a very large bon fire to rid everyone of this cursed or jinxed painting. All paintings that were brought to the newspaper were in fact burned and everyone rejoiced. However, the story goes on. There have been reports of the crying boy painting being found in charred homes untouched since 1985 and as recent as 1988.


Typical of these additional stories was that told by Dora Mann, from Mitcham, Surrey, who claimed her house was gutted just six months after she bought a print of the painting. “All my paintings were destroyed – except the one of the Crying Boy,” she claimed. Sandra Kaske, of Kilburn, North Yorkshire, said that she, her sister-in-law, and a friend had all suffered disastrous fires since they acquired copies. Another family, from Nottingham, blamed the print for a blaze which had left them homeless. Brian Parks, whose wife and three children needed treatment for smoke inhalation, said he had destroyed his copy after returning from hospital to find it hanging – undamaged, of course – on the blackened wall of his living room. As the stories accumulated, new details emerged that encouraged the idea that possession of a print put owners at risk of fire or serious injury.


One woman from London claimed she had seen her print “swing from side to side” on the wall, while another from Paignton said her 11-year-old son had “caught his private parts on a hook” after she bought the picture. Mrs Rose Farrington of Preston, in a letter published by The Sun, wrote: “Since I bought it in 1959, my three sons and my husband have all died. I’ve often wondered if it had a curse.”
Rotherham fire station officer Alan Wilkinson who had personally logged 50 ‘Crying Boy’ fires dating back to 1973, dismissed any connection with the supernatural, having satisfied himself that most of them had been caused by human carelessness. But despite his pragmatism, he could not explain how the prints had survived infernos which generated heat sufficient to strip plaster from walls. His wife had her own theory: “I always say it’s the tears that put the fire out.” The Sun was not interested in finding a rational explanation. It ignored Wilkinson’s comments and claimed “fire chiefs have admitted they have no logical explanation for a number of recent incidents.”


Soon afterwards, it emerged that the ‘cursed’ prints were not all copies of the same painting, nor were all the prints by the same artist. The picture that survived the fire in Rotherham that initially triggered the scare was signed by the artist G Bragolin. The Sun claimed the original was “by an Italian artist”. In fact, Giovanni Bragolin was a pseudonym adopted by Spanish painter Bruno Amadio, who is also known as ‘Franchot Seville’.


The story was uncovered by “a well respected researcher into occult matters, a retired schoolmaster from Devon named George Mallory” in 1995. Mallory traced the artist who had painted the original, “an old Spanish portrait artist named Franchot Seville, who lives in Madrid”. Seville, as astute readers will recognise, was one of the pseudonyms used by Bruno Amadio, otherwise known as ‘G Bragolin’ whose signature appeared on some of the prints.


Seville/Amadio/Bragolin told Mallory the subject of the paintings was a little street urchin he had found wandering around Madrid in 1969. He never spoke, and had a very sorrowful look in his eyes. Seville painted the boy, and a Catholic priest identified him as Don Bonillo, a child who had run away after seeing his parents die in a blaze. “The priest told the artist to have nothing to do with the runaway, because wherever he settled, fires of unknown origin would mysteriously break out; the villagers called him ‘Diablo’ because of this.” Nevertheless, the painter ignored the priest’s advice and adopted the boy. His portraits sold well but one day his studio was destroyed by fire and the artist was ruined. He accused the little boy of arson and Bonillo ran off – naturally in tears – and was never seen again. From all over Europe came the reports of the unlucky Crying Boy paintings causing blazes. Seville was also regarded as a jinx, and no one commissioned him to paint, or would even look at his paintings.


In 1976, a car exploded into a fireball on the outskirts of Barcelona after crashing into a wall. The victim was charred beyond recognition, but part of the victim’s driving license in the glove compartment was only partly burned. The name on the license was one 19-year-old Don Bonillo.” Psychics claimed the boy's spirit was trapped in the painting and that the curse extends to all the many different versions of the painting!


The curse apparently only affects those who are aware that the painting is cursed - hardly surprising since any subsequent misfortune will get blamed on the painting. Some Crying Boy paintings had a companion Crying Girl or a painting of a boy and girl holding flowers. About the only thing the various prints had in common was that they were cheap, mass-produced paintings sold by department stores in the 1960s and 1970s and popular in working class homes .... where they hung uneventfully until 1985, or so it seems.

How to Visualize Auras

 

Sensing an aura: You probably already do this all the time without even knowing it. Have you ever walked into your parent's bedroom after they had a fight? They may have put on a smile and acted like everything was okay for your benefit, but you could sense the tension in the room. Maybe the air was thick or your father was emitting a weird "vibe". Speaking of vibes, how many times have you left a party or declined an invitation because the vibe wasn't right? We have all probably used this term without even realizing the weight behind our words.

When you pick up on a bad vibe, you really are sensing the vibrational energy of the human environment, or aura. If you spend your time around a group of really depressed individuals, you will eventually start feeling down in the dumps yourself. Likewise, if you hang out with upbeat, positive, outgoing friends, your own attitude will change to match theirs. Atmospheres are contagious. If you were able to see aura colors, you'd notice that the depressed group would be surrounded by rings of brown, whereas the happier group would radiate with shades of yellow.

Seeing Auras

  1. Turn off the lights and lie in bed or another area where you feel most relaxed. You don't want the room to be pitch-black, but you do want as little light as possible. In most cases, streetlights filtering in through the blinds or a nightlight shining in through a crack in the door should be sufficient.
  2. Hold your hands straight out in front of you. Don't stare hard, just gaze gently. An aura is not always a bright light, usually it is more of a haze.
  3. To understand the way you should be gazing, keep holding both hands in your line of sight, then focus your gaze on the bedroom wall in front of you. Your hands will be out of focus but still visible.
  4. Extend your two pointer fingers and very slowly move your hands towards each other so your fingertips are almost touching (think Michelangelo's famous painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.) The aura will appear as lines of blue and red light between the two barely touching fingertips. Then, try it again with all ten fingertips barely touching.
  5. Now slowly draw your hands apart, and you'll see slight streams of energy connecting each finger. Encourage your mind to visualize the energy increasing as you move your fingertips together and apart, back and forth. Bringing the fingers tantailizingly close together (but not quite touching) seems to increase and energize the auric flow.

Practice this technique whenever you can and you may discover, over time, that you are beginning to notice the same effects around people's heads. Although auras surround the entire body, they are brightest and most visible around the head. If you are fortunate to begin seeing full body auras, there are certain things you must know about the different colors. Aura colors are constantly changing depending on mood and location, but the band of color closest to the body is known as a Life Color, and is usually fixed. Here is a rough guideline of what the different aura colors indicate.

 

The Auric Colors

 

RED

Red is the color of stress or anger. There is a reason why the phrase, "seeing red" is use when one is experiencing an extreme state of emotion. When tempers flare, even the calmest aura color will suffer from a flash of red, and if someonehas a red overlay, or hue, around them at all times, this can mean their interactions are often colored by anger or intensity. Red is a physical color typically found in businessmen, politicians and other highly ambitious people who have the focus and determination to accomplish any goals they set. A concentration of red light in an individual who does not otherwise exhibit that color usually indicates an ailment, usually around the throat or ears. Pink, on the other hand, is associated with sensitive, caring feelings, and is usually seen around women during pregnancy.

 

ORANGE

Orange is a healing and cleansing color, created when the vitality of red mixes with the optimism of yellow. Also a physical color, orange is associated with recovery from illness or trauma and can indicate both physical or mental vitality. Orange around the head means the person is tolerant and open-minded. Orange is also frequently seen in auras when the individual is coming upon a time of change, be it a new home or a new relationship. Orange appears when the past breaks open to forge new paths. Balls of orange light around the head mean that the person's mind is set on changing their life but may not be quite ready to do so; small flecks of orange and the changes have just recently begun. Pastel orange indicates new aspirations of a spiritual kind. This color is usually found in people who are seeking but have not yet found their new destiny. Because orange is the color of change, this color is often found in counsellors, social workers, and any other occupation that seeks to help people change for the better.

 

YELLOW

Yellow is the color of energy and expression, optimism and cheerfullness. If the color yellow appears in pin-like streaks, however, it could mean that the person is experiencing a split in their personality, and struggling to merge their energetic, youthful demeanor with the grown-up demands of society. Their mind is torn between too many options, which tends to cause stress among people with this color in their aura.

 

GREEN

Green is the color of nature, of rebirth and renewal. Many doctors and healers have this color in their aura. Greens are straightforward and loyal, and truly want the best for everyone. Bright green means that person likes to help, whereas a sickly lemon color can indicate deceit or, more likely, envy. Rich emerald green indicates strength of character. In fact, any healthy shade of green is a positive sign; only dark black greens are negative, indiciating an untrustworthy personality. Green is linked with blood pressure and the heart--as long as the torso emits a bright green light, the person is healthy.

 

BLUE

Blue is an emotional color found in highly sensitive, spiritual individuals. Blues bring peace and calm to those around them, and exhibit a love of freedom and desire to reach new spiritual heights. Mediums who are able to hear spirit voices usually have bright blues in their aura, along with writers. An aura filled with bright blue means the person is very healthy and at peace. Visualizing ocean blue has a calming effect on the nerves and can even stabilize fever.

 

INDIGO/VIOLET

Also emotional colors, violets and indigos are spiritually advanced individuals and activists. These people are also highly sensitive, usually able to see auras themselves. The darker the shade, the deeper the person's spiritual quest. These individuals recognize the importance of bodily purity and communication with the unconscious. Tapping into these colors within yourself may help you to expand your horizons. When violet mixes with white to create lavender, the person is incredibly advanced and has reached the pinnacle of understanding.

The Famous Dog Suicide bridge

The Overtoun Bridge is an arch bridge located near Milton, Dumbarton, Scotland which was built in 1859 and has become famous for the number of unexplained instances in which dogs have apparently committed suicide by leaping off of it.

The incidents were first recorded around the 1950's or 1960's when it was noticed that dogs - usually the long-nosed variety like Collies - would suddenly and unexpectedly leap off the bridge and fall fifty feet to their deaths. In some cases, however, the dogs would survive, recuperate, and then leap off the bridge again. The locals have a name for these dogs: second-timers.

What makes this tragic mystery even more mysterious is that many of the dogs that jump from Overton Bridge jump from the same side and from almost the same spot: between the final two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge.

But why is this happening? What would compel otherwise contented canines to leap from the stone structure?

Some believe that the bridge is haunted. In 1994, a man threw his baby son off the bridge claiming that it was the anti-Christ. Later, the man attempted suicide there as well. Was Overton Bridge responsible for this tragic event?

Another theory comes from Celtic beliefs that Overton Bridge is a "thin place" where the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead meet and sometimes cross over. Some believe that dogs are more sensitive to the paranormal and perhaps they are getting spooked by spirits. In fact, one psychic toured the bridge and, although she admitted that she felt nothing malevolent - only peace, her dog pulled on its leash to the right side of the bridge.

A more rational explanation for the "dog suicides" could be the mink population that resides under the bridge in the brush. Veterinarians and animal experts have pointed out that a dog, overly excited at the smell of the minks and unable to see over the sides of the bridge, might leap over the side on impulse not realizing that they are on a bridge at all.

Whatever the explanation for the famous Dog Suicide Bridge actually is could be debated for years without satisfaction. Just take some advise from the locals and keep your best friend on a leash when visiting Overton Bridge.

The Ourang Medan- Ghost Ship

The Ourang Medan

In February 1948, distress calls were picked up by numerous ships near Indonesia from the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan. The chilling message was, "All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead." This message was followed by indecipherable Morse code then one final grisly message... "I die."


When the first rescue vessel arrived on the scene a few hours later, they tried to hail the Ourang Medan but there was no response to their hand and whistle signals. A boarding party was sent to the ship and what they found was a frightening sight that has made the Ourang Medan one of the strangest and scariest ghost ship stories of all time. All the crew and officers of the Ourang Medan were dead, their eyes open, faces looking towards the sun, arms outstretched and a look of terror on their faces. Even the ship's dog was dead, found snarling at some unseen enemy. When nearing the bodies in the boiler room, the rescue crew felt a chill though the temperature was near 110°F.
The decision was made to tow the ship back to port but before they could get underway, smoke began rolling up from the hull. The rescue crew left the ship and barely had time to cut the tow lines before the Ourang Medan exploded and sank.

To this day, the exact fate of the Ourang Medan and her crew remain a mystery. Some say that pirates killed the crew and sabotaged the ship, others claim that she was transporting an illicit cargo of chemicals such as potassium cyanide and nitroglycerine (both of which become dangerous when combined with sea water). The condition of the bodies found aboard and haunting distress call, however, has led to more rampant speculation involving aliens, conspiracies, and even ghosts.

What really happened to the Ourang Medan? The only ones who know for sure rest at the dark bottom of the mysterious and unforgiving sea

Jimmy Page and Aleister Crowley: deciphering the mage

 

I have been accused of being a “black magician.” No more foolish statement was ever made about me. I despise the thing to such an extent that I can hardly believe in the existence of people so debased and idiotic as to practice it.

- Aleister Crowley

Page’s interest in Crowley would be, like Crowley himself, grossly misrepresented and misunderstood. Perhaps even maligned.

jimmy-2-by-herb-greene1

In the early 1970s, Jimmy Page owned an occult bookshop and publishing house, “The Equinox Booksellers and Publishers” in Kensington High Street, London, eventually closing it as the increasing success of Led Zeppelin resulted in his having insufficient time to devote to it. In “I’m With The Band,” Pamela Des Barres recalls one of the more interesting aspects of her relationship with Page: scouring Hollywood for rare occult literature to ship back to the Guitar God.

The infamous Boleskin House, (purchased by Page, formerly owned by Aleister Crowley) lies on the edge of Loch Ness in Scotland. Sections of Page’s fantasy sequence in the film The Song Remains the Same were filmed at night on the mountainside directly behind Boleskine House.

Jimmy Page interview below, from Guitar World January 2008:

(Guitar World) Could we talk a little about the meaning behind your Sequence [in The Song Remains The Same movie]?

(Page) To me, the significance is very clear, isn’t it?

(GW) Well, I find it interesting that you were choosing to represent yourself as a hermit at a time when you were really quite a public figure.

(Page) Well, I was hermetic. I was involved in the hermetic arts, but I wasn’t a recluse. Or maybe I was… The image of the hermit that was used for the [inside cover] art-work on Led Zeppelin IV and in the movie actually has it’s origins in a painting of Christ called The Light of the World by the pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt. The imagery was later transferred to the Waite tarot deck [the most popular tarot deck in use in the English-speaking world]. My segment was supposed to be the aspirant going to the beacon of truth, which is represented by the hermit and his journey toward it. What I was trying to say through the transformation was that enlightenment can be achieved at any point in time; it just depends on when you want to access it. In other words you can always see the truth, but do you recognize it when you see it or do you have to reflect back on it later?

(GW) There was always a certain amount of speculation about your occult studies. It may have been subtle, but you weren’t really hiding it.

(Page) I was living it. That’s all there is to it. It was my life - that fusion of magick and music.

(GW) Your use of symbols was very advanced. The sigil [symbols of occult powers] on Led Zeppelin IV and the embroidery on your stage clothes from that time period are good examples on how you left your mark on popular culture. It’s something that major corporations are aggressively pursuing these days: using symbols as a from of branding.

(Page) You mean talismanic magick? Yes, I knew what I was doing. There’s no point in saying much about it, because the more you discuss it, the more eccentric you appear to be. But the fact is - as far as I was concerned - it was working, so I used it. But it’s really no different than people who wear ribbons around their wrists: it’s a talismanic approach to something. Well let me amend that: it’s not exactly the same thing, but it is in the same realm. I’ll leave this subject by saying the four musical elements of Led Zeppelin making a fifth is magick into itself. That’s the alchemical process.

The Crowley quotes that revolutionized occult thinking for Page and countless other seekers of truth:

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

“Love is the law. Love under will.”

“Every man and every woman is a star.”