Monday, December 29, 2014

Murder Victim Attends His Own Funeral

A two-year murder investigation took a bizarre turn in an East London court when State witnesses testified that the victim was spotted alive – at his own funeral.

The murder trial following the reported killing of 22-year-old shebeen owner Siphamandla Hlatshwayo – who was allegedly stabbed to death at another tavern in Nompumelelo in 2008 – was postponed to next year for the claims to be investigated.

Murmurs and gasps were heard in the East London Regional Court last week when the first State witness testified that he had seen Hlatshwayo just a week after the alleged murder.

Accused Bongekile Nqwiliso, 22, was arrested in 2008 for allegedly stabbing Hlatshwayo and his friend Sonwabo Walter Mpisane – who survived the attack – during a heated argument at Aaron’s Tavern.

Hlatshwayo was reported to have died on the scene, while Mpisane sustained minor stab wounds.

Nqwiliso was released on warning and has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Mpisane, called as the first State witness, said he was “shocked” when Hlatshwayo turned up at his own funeral in August 2008 – about a week after his death.

He said Hlatshwayo was wearing the same clothing as the night he had died.

After rushing to Hlatshwayo’s sister’s aid – who allegedly fainted when she saw her brother – Mpisane said he chased after Hlatshwayo, who fled the scene.

Taking the stand in the afternoon, tavern owner Aaron Simandla confirmed Mpisane’s version of events.

He said he also saw a man “who looked very much … exactly like Hlatshwayo.”

He said he also attempted to “catch” Hlatshwayo but that he “vanished”.

Chaos then erupted and community members wanted to burn the coffin with the body inside.

However, family members called off the funeral.

Instead, they had the body cremated about a week later, the court heard.

Yesterday a family friend of Hlatshwayo’s, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said she had witnessed the commotion at the funeral, but denied the victim had turned up to see his own burial.

“There was screaming … someone fainted … people were running around yelling that they had seen Siphamandla, but I never saw him.

“I was very close to Siphamandla … If he was there why didn’t I see him? He would have appeared to me.”

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Phantoms & Monsters: Bizarre Encounters' Now Available!


You asked for it...Phantoms & Monsters: Bizarre Encounters

A collection of bizarre encounter reports submitted by regular people who felt compelled to find answers about their unexplained experience. I keep an open mind when reading and discussing witness accounts since I truly understand how they feel...since I've confronted similar. I have also included cases of which I offered my abilities and help.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Uncommon Home


Dear Lon,

I have been meaning to write to you and describe some bizarre and on-going experiences I have had while living in a small, 3 bedroom brick ranch home in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. Most all these incidents have occurred inside this home, which in all respects is very mundane and ordinary. There is nothing sinister about the appearance or atmosphere of this residence. I have been living here quite comfortably for 27 years, yet there are occasions when things happen in this house which can't be easily explained away.

Among the first incidents I remember distinctly was one night as my then-wife and I were lying in bed, I felt a very sharp downward tug on the bed covers. The feeling was as if someone was crouched down at the foot of the bed and had just grabbed a handful of the covers and tugged them once, sharply, toward the floor. This movement was very firm, it was not just a wrinkle falling out of the covers, or me having a dream. I was wide awake at the time. Though I waited for something else to happen, nothing did, and that was the end of that particular incident.

There have been plenty of occasions where some item would suddenly disappear from its normal location, be gone for days or even weeks, and then reappear in its proper place, or well hidden in some unexplained spot around the house. One particular incident that stands out from many years ago was my driver's license was missing from my wallet. I searched all over the house and in my car, it was not to be found anywhere. A few days later, my driver's license was back in my wallet, but instead of in the compartment with the plastic window, the driver's license was just placed in the wallet alongside my cash.

Among the more startling things that have happened have been our television turning on by itself. This has happened several times, almost always when I'm alone in the house. One time in particular was very odd, because I had been working and doing errands around the house. Those errands had me entering and leaving the living room on several trips, but it was not until I had finished all my chores and walked into the living room to sit down and watch television that it came on by itself! I looked down and verified the TV remote was sitting on the coffee table untouched and in good working order.

There seems to be a slight increase in activity around Christmas time, as I have noticed on more than one occasion items will suddenly move of their own accord. I caught a slight movement out of the corner of my eye one holiday season and noticed that an extension cord which we had used to set up a table display had started to sway on its own.

On one occasion after my divorce from my first wife while I was living here alone, I heard the sound of something scratching around in my bedroom closet one night. As I listened, the scratching sound became louder and more active. Finally, believing it had to be a rodent that was possibly chewing on something in there, I got up and searched through the closet. I found nothing in the closet, nor the rest of the room to explain the noises. On many other occasions I've heard a lot of heavy movement in the attic. The attic of this house is quite small; you can not stand up anywhere in this attic and it is also quite packed with boxes. There is no way any one of normal size could move around much up there, but yet I've often heard the sounds of what could only be a full-sized person moving all around up there, seemingly trying to make as much racket as possible while doing so. I have gotten up and gone up into the attic to check things out, but have never seen or heard anything when I did. I want to emphasize that these sounds are not rats, squirrels, bats, etc. or some other small critters; these sounds are being made by something weighing what a full-grown adult would weigh.

As you can tell, the vast majority of these unexplained events are just curious and do not exhibit any overt signs of evil or any bad intent toward my present girlfriend, our animals or myself. However, there are some incidents that continue to occur on a very regular basis that have brought much distress to my girlfriend. Often when she is the first to retire at night, she will get back up very agitated within a few minutes and tell me there are people in the bedroom that are bothering her. She has some psychic sensitivity and swears someone who had lived in the house previously had been involved in some type of witchcraft or experimentation with Ouija Boards, because she was sure a portal had been opened in the room we were now using as our bedroom. She claims this portal remained open because some previous resident or guest in the home had probably buried some talisman or spirit object in the crawlspace under the house. I have been under the house on odd occasions through the years but have never found any evidence of something buried there, yet she believes this portal is open and is the entryway for these undesirable entities to come in.

Whatever the source of these manifestations, they have greatly affected my girlfriend. She is very uncomfortable sleeping in the bedroom and even has had some of these experiences while I'm in the room with her. I can not sense these things myself, and sadly, having me there with her does not always ease her suffering. I've suggested to her that as someone who has at least some psychic ability, she should learn how to protect herself from these entities or people, but she claims she is unable to find any source of protection to stop this from happening to her.

This is by far the most disturbing aspect of the incidents and obviously I find it very distressing to have this continuing to occur on a pretty regular basis, but I've been at a loss as to exactly how to put an end to it. I'm aware that sometimes bringing in a priest or someone to cleanse a home will actually provoke even more activity rather than ending it, so she continues to have to deal with this and neither of us quite know what to do.

One other incident that happened just prior to my moving here is also worthy of mentioning here. I was living in a small wood-frame house in a neighboring town. This place had its share of strange noises at night, including some very discernible footsteps that would come up the wooden steps from the basement. One night while living there alone, I was in bed prior to falling asleep when I felt something press down on the right side of the bed near my feet. It felt exactly as if a small child, maybe about 40 pounds or so in weight, had sat down on the edge of the bed. This was needless to say very disconcerting and I was quite taken aback. However, nothing else happened. At some point, as odd as it may sound, I eventually just fell asleep without ever reaching down to see if I could feel anything there or getting up and turning on a light to ensure my safety, although when it happened I was pretty shaken. I still don't know how or why I just laid there without reacting until I fell asleep, but that's what happened.

I've been told the previous resident of my present home, an elderly woman, had become ill and died here. There is ample evidence she loved this home and was quite attached to it. There are still many plants and shrubs growing around the lot which she planted herself. Perhaps she is still here and makes her presence known with these incidents to let us know we're not alone. If she is still here, for the most part she has been a very congenial, non-threatening member of the household and I have no problem sharing the place with her so long as she doesn't make trouble.

The above incidents are true. I have been an ardent researcher of all things paranormal/unexplained all my adult life and I have to admit it's been extremely interesting for me to have some real-life unexplained incidents of my own which, if nothing else, have given me irrefutable proof these incidents happen, quite probably happen to everybody, but some people take note of it and other people just ignore or dismiss these things.

Sincerely,

Steve A.

Better Haunted Homes and Gardens

House of Spirits and Whispers: The True Story of a Haunted House

Haunted Georgia: Ghost Stories and Paranormal Activity from the State of Georgia (Haunted States Series)

Haunted Georgia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Peach State (Haunted Series)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Haunted Locations and Legends


I will occasionally post a collection of ghostly tales from the past...enjoy:

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Malayan House Comes 'Alive' at Night

Many flock to Jalan Bellamy for the Ikan Bakar while others may recognise the road as home to one of the country’s oldest international school, Alice Smith.

The road has not changed much since the country’s pre-independence days and remains a quiet path that most city dwellers do not use.

With old government quarters hidden by the large trees on the road, the aroma of fish being grilled waft out from Gerai Seri Menanti and Seri Melaka while the chatter and laughter of children from the Alice Smith school livens up the atmosphere.

Rosemary Alder Duckworth who lived at 5, Jalan Bellamy from 1947 to 1949 remembers the days when housing was scarce in post-war Malaya and when most houses on the street housed two or more families.

“A few families would share a home and we were very surprised to find house No 5 empty.

“We moved in but for the next two-and-half years, we had a lot of problems, especially with servants who would just disappear in the night without even collecting their pay,” said Duckworth.

She had come to Malaya with her family when her father, Frederick Victor Duckworth, was appointed the last British adviser of Selangor.

The family managed to trace a few of their former workers and they recounted tales of paranormal activities that took place in the servants quarters and kitchen.

“We then realised that the house was not snapped up because it was considered haunted. Many of the servants told us that they would be jolted awake from sleep and see blinding lights circling on top of them. Some said they even saw vegetables flying around the kitchen,'' said Duckworth.

She had the chance to speak to the Richardson family who had lived in the house before the war and they confirmed the unusual sightings in the house.

“Corinne Richardson was one of those who lived in the house and she related an incident that took place one night.

“She told me she was awakened by loud banging noises and saw an old Chinese man standing next to her bed. Corinne’s sister, who was in the room, also saw the man,” said Duckworth.

“Corinne asked the man what he wanted but there was no reply and the man just walked away. The banging noises, however, continued. Corinne told her parents and although they looked everywhere, the man was not found.''

The Richardsons later found out that at the exact time that Corinne saw the old man, the chief of a nearby village on Jalan Bellamy had passed away.

“When she was shown a picture of the village chief, Corinne recognised him as the old man who had appeared in her room.''

During the Duckworth family’s stay at the house, the haunting worsened and they had to conduct an exorcism ceremony.

Other than this, the family enjoyed their stay on the quaint Bellamy road.

“It was a very quiet and nice residential area with big trees. said Duckworth.

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Girl's Ghastly Death Leads to Haunting Legend


Prosperous times in Niagara County came in the first half of the 1800s and brought many beautiful homes and mansions, some rumored to be haunted.

A mansion on a hill in Lockport's Lowertown briefly claimed a reputation as haunted due to the tragic fire death of a young girl. Mrs. Albert Gagliardi lived in the house as a youngster in the early 1900s and wrote a 500-word essay about it.

Edward Bissel built the Gagliardi house in 1829, according to late County Historian Clarence O. Lewis. A flourmill owner, Bissel decided to build his house high on a hill opposite the Lake Avenue Bridge over the Erie Canal.

The next year, Dr. Jonah Skinner, the first Lowertown doctor, built his house next door. Later that year, Judge Nathan Dayton built his elegant home on the same hill.

Bissel sold his house to Albany Land Company Agent Lot Clark, who in September of 1835 put it on the market with this ad in the Niagara Courier: "Valuable property for sale. The house and lot formerly occupied by Edward Bissel with adjoining lands are offered at a bargain. The house is one of the best built and best furnished in the western part of this state. It is pleasantly situated near other fine dwellings and good society. The out buildings consist of a barn, stables and carriage house. A garden and an orchard of choice fruit adjoins the house; also 40 acres of land. Apply to Lot Clark."

Rev. Piedmont, Mrs. Gagliardi's father, bought the house in 1917. She wrote, "Way up on a hill in the center of an acre of land stood a huge stone house with four Roman pillars holding up the front veranda."

This was her first impression of their new home. The second came moments later when, on their way up the hill to the house, they saw a sign tacked to a tree with huge black letters proclaiming "Haunted House."

Some time before the turn of the century, the rumor went, a young couple with two children, a 9-year-old girl and a baby, occupied the house. One night, the young girl was left alone to watch the baby while the mother ran an errand. Somehow a kerosene lamp overturned, starting a fire in the baby's crib. The girl ran over and beat out the flames around the baby, but her clothing caught fire. She dashed toward the front door but collapsed in the hall there and died.

This tragedy caused the mother to have a breakdown, and she was admitted to a mental institution. The fire burned the wainscoting in the front hall, and the charred boards were replaced but were not an exact match, so it was obvious where the fire had occurred.

Mrs. Gagliardi said the side door consisted of a huge window that went to the floor: "One had to reach down, grasp a handle and pull the window up, step inside and pull the window down."

Beautiful marble fireplaces graced all 17 rooms on the two floors, including the large kitchen. The ceilings were 14 feet high.

"Now the stairs were what really fascinated us. They were winding stairs starting from the first floor and winding their way to the second floor and then to the attic. If one stood at the bottom one could see the attic door.

"The whole stairway and banister and rail were made of the finest black walnut. At the rear of the second story were the servants quarters consisting of a kitchen and four bedrooms."

Many beautiful homes were built in the Lockport area due to prosperity brought by the opening of the Erie Canal. Likewise, commerce brought prosperity to Lewiston, accounting for many fine homes built there.

A Lewiston resident, Mrs. Lucy W. Hawes, wrote a glowing description of the fine Lewiston homes in 1887. She wrote, "Lewiston had advantages denied to other Western New York communities. Her main or Center Street was the great overland route across the continent.

"Great lines of stages loaded with travelers headed for Niagara Falls. Lewiston was the custom port and the distributing post office. Sometimes 30 ox teams conveyed merchandise up the Portage Road to Niagara Falls and Buffalo." About the homes, she wrote, "Nearly every house had its hand carved walnut stair rail, high ceilings, floor length windows, candelabra, pianos, marble fireplaces in every room and other evidence of the prevailing prosperity of that early period."

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The Chase Vault (Moving Coffins of Barbados)

There is a vault in a West Indies cemetery that prefers its coffins in disarray. An entire family was buried within - the Chase family. One by one, family members both young and old would die and be carefully placed in their eternal resting place - until the father (rumoured to be one of the most hated men on the island) was interred. When the ground keepers opened the door to store him within, all the coffins seemed to have scattered themselves about the floor.

The strange occurrence happened again and again. Some reports say people could actually hear the coffins moving themselves while locked inside the cement sealed vault.

Many a strange thing has happened in the West Indies - not the least of which is the case of Barbados' self-moving coffins. The story goes that the family Chase had a crypt in a local cemetery to hold all the family members who'd passed on. The first to be housed in the edifice was Mrs. Thomasina Goddard in or around 1807. She was followed by two year old Mary Ann Chase in 1808 and then by another child - Dorcas Chase in 1812.

Those coffins were all very well behaved until the family head - Thomas Chase - was to be placed inside. Thomas, as we've already stated, is said to have been one of the more despised men on the island. When the crypt was opened to place him inside, the other coffins seemed to have moved themselves from their orderly places.

Those in the funeral party were angered at the finding, supposing heartless robbers to be responsible. This thought was soon abandoned as nothing was missing from the coffins, nothing of value had been placed inside in the first place, and (most significantly) the door to the burial site was a huge stone cemented in place. To open it, the cemetery workers quite literally had to do so with a hammer and chisel. The stone was also said to have been so big, a team of at least four men would be needed to move it. Confused, the townspeople placed the freshest body inside and resealed the vault.

The newest coffin was a 240 lb. lead coffin, an extremely difficult thing to toss about for anyone looking to drag it around until money fell out.

In 1816 another burial was to take place - this time for eleven year old Charles Brewster Ames. Again the coffins were everywhere but in their proper places. The 240 lb. lead coffin of Thomas Chase was also in the wrong location. The crypt had been completely sealed and, again, had no signs of tampering or forced entry.

52 days later, another burial was to take place in the crypt. A large crowd gathered for this one, and they weren't disappointed. This time the cement-sealed door was closely examined before opening, with no strange findings. Again the coffins had thrown themselves about. There was a difference this time in that the first coffin that had been placed inside - the only one made of wood - had been badly damaged by the tussle. A reverend was called in to check the scene, but left with no new insight. Once again the vault was sealed.

In 1819 another family burial was needed. The vault was opened with all the same results - except the wooden one found damaged the last time had not been moved one single inch. The governor of the island (Lord Combermere) had enough at this point and ordered his own investigation - nothing was found. This time sand was scattered on the ground to catch the footprints and movements of any pranksters. The governor's own seal was placed in the hardening cement, then the vault was ordered sealed until the next family tragedy.

But the governor couldn't wait that long.

Less than a year later the head-of-state ordered the crypt opened, this time only in front of himself and several friends. The seal was perfectly intact upon arrival, but the coffins were still scattered. Some of them had even flipped upside down, and one was lying halfway up the stairs leading to the door. The sand so carefully placed before gave away no footprints or signs of water. The governor then ordered the coffins removed to a new burial site, and the crypt was left open. It's standing open and empty to this very day.

We don't know about you, but we're not scared of it at all.

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The Haunted Castle of Oldenburg Princess

The right for long-term rent of Castle of Oldenburg Princess of the 19th century – one of the main sightseeing sites of the Voronezh Region of Russia – has been put out for tender.

According to psychics and ufologists, the Castle of Oldenburg Princess is not only a sightseeing site but also an anomalous zone with strong paranormal activity: it is known that here people often fall down in a faint; rats, mice, and flies do not dwell in the castle, and besides, tourists mark sudden and frequent camera breakages.

In 1879 this estate near the Russian city of Voronezh was a wedding present of the emperor Alexander II to granddaughter of Nicolas I Grand Duchess Eugenya Romanova (married name Oldenburg). The Princess used to visit the castle very often.

After 1917 the castle’s owner migrated to France. The new Russian authorities used the building as a school, then as hospital and library. 30 years ago the building was admitted to be no longer suitable for exploitation.

Now the region’s administration hopes that a new investor will restore the castle and the nearby park and make it the main sightseeing of the Voronezh Region.

Earlier the press wrote that Prince Michael of Kent (great grandson of the Russian Tsar Alexander II) wanted to purchase the castle while being on their visit to Voronezh in spring 2007. However, Prince was refused as the local authorities explained that the castle was registered as federal property and therefore could not be sold.

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Poltergeist Forces Family to Flee Home

A poltergeist that has forced a terrified Carlisle family to flee their home is to be "cleansed" by a vicar.

Spooky happenings prompted Allison Marshall, 27, to bundle her family out of the house in Mardale Road, Raffles, in the middle of the night.

Carlisle Housing Association, which owns the property, has now arranged for a priest to step in and end the family's nightmare.

Allison and children Rebecca, three, Emily, four, Shannon, seven, and Aaron, eight, enduring a series of bizarre happenings at the house that has been her home for four years.

She and her children are now staying with her mother Lesley Whitewick, 46.

The drama began last week with a catalogue of inexplicable happenings, which included household objects hurtling around the room and sudden and unexplained drops in the temperature in the house.

They continued with the mysterious appearance of a skull image in a picture frame in a glass display cabinet and disturbing noises in the dead of night, including a child sobbing.

A family friend called in a clairvoyant, who claimed he saw the image of a child in a dressing gown.

Allison said: "I don't really want to leave the house so it would be better if they could do something to sort it out and get this thing out of my house. If they can't get rid of it I'll have to move."

In a statement, Carlisle Housing Association said: "Carlisle Housing Association takes any situation which is causing distress to its tenants seriously and will offer support and assistance where it can.

"Two members of CHA Housing Management team visited the tenant on Monday morning to assess the situation and also arranged for the local vicar to contact her separately.

"We appreciate the distress Miss Marshall has voiced and will continue to offer her our support."

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Historic Boston Hotel Has Haunted Past


The story: The third floor is the paranormal hotspot at this historic Boston hotel. Charlotte Cushman, a renowned 19th century stage actress who played both male and female roles (Lady Macbeth as well as Hamlet), died in 1876 in her room on the third floor. Now, one of the elevators often travels on its own to the third floor, even when no buttons are pushed.

More haunting: Charlotte isn't the only ghost suspected to haunt the third floor of the Omni Parker House. A businessman died in Room 303. Guests and staff have reported the smell of whiskey and raucous laughter. After a large number of guest complaints, the room was converted into a closet.



Spooky visits: Some surprised guests have reported seeing Harvey Parker, the hotel's founder, in their rooms asking about their stay. Mr. Parker died in 1884.

History and legend: The Omni Parker House was the gathering place for "The Saturday Club," a group that included Longfellow, Thoreau, Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Since Longfellow's favorite room was on the third floor, many suspect the elevator is returning him upstairs after a club meeting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Washington Irving & American Gothic

Since my early years I have been intrigued by American folktales, especially the classic stories written by Washington Irving. The following essay incorporates an historical figure and one of Irving's best known characters into a tale that some say contains more fact than fiction.

"Behind the New Grand Hotel, in the Catskills, is an amphitheatre of mountain that is held to be the place of which the Mohicans spoke when they told of people there who worked in metals, and had bushy beards and eyes like pigs. From the smoke of their forges, in autumn, came the haze of Indian summer; and when the moon was full, it was their custom to assemble on the edge of a precipice above the hollow and dance and caper until the night was nigh worn away. They brewed a liquor that had the effect of shortening the bodies and swelling the heads of all who drank it, and when Hudson and his crew visited the mountains, the pygmies held a carouse in his honor and invited him to drink their liquor. The crew went away, shrunken and distorted by the magic distillation, and thus it was that Rip Van Winkle found them on the eve of his famous sleep." - Myths and Legends of Our Own Land - Complete- Charles M. Skinner - 1896

Henry Hudson and the Catskill Gnomes

On September 3rd of 1609, Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon into the mouth of the great New York river that later bore his name. The explorer and his crew journeyed north for several days, trading with the native residents and searching for the fabled northwest passage to the Orient. By the time he reached the area that would become present-day Albany, Hudson knew that he had not found the passage for which he sought. Reluctantly, he turned the Half Moon and sailed back down the river.

That night, Henry Hudson and his crew anchored the Half Moon in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains. Around midnight, Hudson heard the sound of music floating across the mountains and down to the river. Taking a few members of his crew, he went ashore and followed the sound up and up into the Catskills. The sound of the music grew louder as Hudson and his men marched up to the edge of a precipice. To their astonishment, a group of pygmies with long, bushy beards and eyes like pigs were dancing and singing and capering about in the firelight.

Hudson realized that these creatures were the metal-working gnomes of whom the natives had spoken. One of the bushy-bearded chaps spotted the explorer and his men and welcomed them with a cheer. The short men surrounded the crew and drew them into the firelight and the dance. Hudson and his men were delighted with these strange, small creatures, and with the hard liquor that the gnomes had brewed. Long into the night, the men drank and played nine-pins with the gnomes while Henry Hudson sipped at a single glass of spirits and spoke with the chief of the gnomes about many deep and mysterious things.

Realizing at last how late it was, Hudson looked around for his men. At first, he couldn't locate them. All he saw were large groups of gnomes, laughing and joking as they sprawled around the fire. Then, to his astonishment, he recognized several of the gnomes as his crewmen! They had undergone a transformation. Their heads had swollen to twice their normal size, their eyes were small and pig-like, and their bodies had shortened until they were only a little taller than the gnomes themselves.

Hudson was alarmed, and asked the chief of the gnomes for an explanation. It was, the chief explained to Hudson, the effect of the magical hard liquor the gnomes brewed. It would wear off when the liquor did. Hudson wasn't sure that he believed the little man. Afraid of what else might happen to him and his crewman if they continued to linger in such company, Hudson hurriedly took his leave of the gnomes and hustled his severely drunken crewmen back to the Half Moon. The entire crew slept late into the morning, as if they were under the influence of a sleeping draught. When they awakened, the crewmen who had accompanied Hudson up into the Catskill Mountains, aside from ferocious headaches, were back to normal.

Hudson continued on his way down the great river, and by October 4th, the Half Moon had reached the mouth and Hudson and his crew sailed for home. In 1610, Hudson set off on another journey, searching for a northwestern passage to the Orient. Trapped in the ice through a long winter, Hudson's crew eventually mutinied and set Henry Hudson and eight of his crewmen adrift in the Hudson Bay. They were never seen again.

In September 1629, twenty years to the day that Hudson and his crew met the Catskill gnomes, a bright fire appeared on the precipice above the hollow, and dance music could be heard floating through the mountains. The Catskill gnomes spent the evening dancing, and carousing and drinking their magic liquor. At midnight, they were joined by the spirits of Henry Hudson and crew. Merry was their meeting, and the gnomes and the spirits played nine-pins all night long. Each time they rolled the ball, a peal of thunder would shake the mountains, and the fire would flare up in bolts like lightening. The party lasted until daybreak, at which hour the spirits departed from the hills, with promises to return.

Every twenty years, the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew returned to the Catskill Mountains to play nine-pins with the gnomes, and to look out over the country they had first explored together on the Half Moon. Now and then, one of the Dutch settlers living in the region came across the spirits as they played nine-pins. They claimed that any man foolish enough to drink of the spirits' magic liquor would sleep from the moment the spirits departed the mountain to the day they returned, twenty years later. Most folks discounted the story, although several members of Rip Van Winkle's family swore it was true. True or false, wise folks who walk among the Catskills in September do not accept a drink of liquor when it is offered to them. Just in case. - Spooky New York: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore- S. E. Schlosser

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Washington Irving's Mysterious Home

Click for video

<-- Is this a ghost? Could it be the apparition of Washington Irving?

TP - On June 26, 2010, 14-year-old Rachel Lambert saw something a bit unusual in a photograph she took earlier during her trip to Washington Irving's Sunnyside.

After seeing Tim Burton's film, "Sleepy Hollow," Rachel pursued her interest in the paranormal and convinced her family to take a trip from Rotterdam, N.Y. to see what the town of the horseman is really like.

They ended up wandering the estate of Tarrytown's Sunnyside and as they did, Rachel saw something strange in a window of Irving's cottage. She snapped a picture and moved on, as not to miss any of their tour guide's fascinating historical speech. When Rachel got home the next night and viewed the picture on the 27-inch screen of her computer, she found that the creator of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow had not let her down (see attached video).

She and her family were able to make out a figure that looks like the head and upper body of a ghost holding a quill pen. Rachel determined that before her eyes was a picture of the ghost of Washington Irving.

Rachel's father Ed believes that his daughter's sighting of the spirit may not have been a sheer streak of luck. Just before the family stopped outside the cottage, they were having a conversation with the guide about Rachel's achievements as an English honors student and her dream of becoming a writer. They additionally spoke about her interest in Sleepy Hollow and how she had planned out sights to see and goals for the trip, which included stopping at Washington Irving's grave in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery beforehand. The family thinks that Irving's spirit may have overheard this conversation and acted. Perhaps Irving's thoughts were, "I'm gonna let her see this and do this for an aspiring author," as Rachel's father put it.

When Historic Hudson Valley, the organization entrusted to maintain the estate, was contacted, spokesperson Rob Schweitzer said he was "unaware" of any ghosts at the estate.

But some ghost enthusiasts maintain the Sunnyside is known for holding the spirit of Washington Irving.


"The legend says he still haunts the house," said Donna Davies, of Haunted Hudson Valley. "He passed away in the house. If he was going to haunt any place he would haunt Sunnyside."

Another ghost hunter, Linda Zimmermann, has written many books on the hauntings in the Hudson Valley and agrees with Davies' assessment in her book Ghost Investigator: Hauntings of the Hudson Valley, Volume 1:

* "Irving made his home at Sunnyside in Tarrytown. Some people claim that to this day, he still resides in his beautiful mansion. That are reports that Irving's spirit walks the halls and rooms of Sunnyside, and that he particularly favors the tower know as the Pagoda. It seems to be poetic justice that the man most know for his ghost story would pass on and create one of his own."

Rachel was certainly excited by this sighting and claims that she is now even more interested in Sleepy Hollow, Irving and ghost stories. As for her parents, Rachel's mother emphasized that they have always been open about the paranormal with their children and allowed them to explore its possibility rather than fear it.

Ed however, stated that he always thought there could be a potential for the spirit world, but that there are also other scientific ways to explain such mystical events. "Do we make these things up in our minds or are they there?" he initially thought. But after taking several close looks at the photograph he said, "I think it's there."

Many family members and friends that were shown Rachel's photograph were similarly shocked by the image and questioned their ideas about the spiritual world.

"I think it made some people believers," said Ed Lambert.

Some even said that it looks like there are several ghosts in the image, besides Irving's spirit. The Lambert family believes that some kind of paranormal investigation should be done to determine what is really in the photograph and at Sunnyside.

The Lambert family plans to return to Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown in the fall to see the scenery of the season, and perhaps to further explore the possibility of the supernatural in the villages.

Although Rachel is likely to also pursue her interest in the paranormal elsewhere, her recent experience and haunting souvenir caused her to admit, "I think there's something special about Sleepy Hollow.

**********

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


Ichabod Crane, a Connecticut schoolteacher, arrives in Sleepy Hollow in 1790 and is immediately attracted to the supernatural tales told by the area’s Dutch housewives, particularly the tale of a headless horseman. According to the story, he is a Hessian cavalryman who was decapitated during a battle in the American Revolution. Each night he rides out searching for his lost head.

Crane also spends his time pursuing a young woman, Katrina Van Tassel, the "plump," 18 year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. This infuriates a rival for Katrina’s hand, “Brom Bones" Van Brunt, a handsome but rather rowdy and brutish man who subjects Crane to ridicule.

One Autumn night after attending a party at the Van Tassel home, Crane encounters the headless horseman near a bridge and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A pursuit through the countryside follows during which the spectral horseman hurls his “head” at Crane. The next day the schoolteacher is missing, leaving behind a riderless horse, a trampled saddle, Crane’s hat, and a smashed pumpkin.

Irving leaves it to the reader to decide if the horseman was an actual specter or Van Brunt in disguise.

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery


The cemetery in Sleepy Hollow is a beautiful Victorian era cemetery with many hills and valleys in a gothic park-like atmosphere, situated on the east side of the Hudson River. It contains the final resting place of Washington Irving, the author of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Ichabod Crane's encounter with the Headless Horseman. Washington Irving wrote, in a letter addressed to the editor of Knickerbocker Magazine, “I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there.” Washington Irving’s gothic revival home, known as Sunnyside, is situated not far from his gravesite, along the Hudson River.

Also buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are other luminaries such as: Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, William Rockefeller, and Elizabeth Arden. The television series “Dark Shadows”, which featured vampire Barnabas Collins, witches, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures, inspired a film, “House of Dark Shadows”. In the film, Lyndhurst, a gothic revival mansion in nearby Tarrytown, was the Collinwood estate and a mausoleum in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was shown as the Collins family tomb. The cemetery is rather renowned and guided tours are offered in October. It is also adjacent to the cemetery of the Old Dutch Church, which is the resting place of those who inspired Irving's characters of Katrina Van Tassel, Brom Bones, and the headless Hessian soldier.

Sources:
tarrytown.patch.com
longislandgothic.com
classic-american-fiction.suite101.com
wordcraft.net


-----

Legendary Sleepy Hollow

Where the Ghosts are

A British ghost investigator named Dean James Maynard visited Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in the summer of 2005 and called the area “the most haunted place in the world.”

Who and where are the ghosts? Here is a guide to the apparitions and places where they reportedly reside. Should you see a ghost or hear about one we haven't mentioned, please let us know.

Ghosts and places where you might encounter them:

1. Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Washington Irving was the first American writer to gain old world respect and recognition for the new world’s literature; he bought consciousness of fantasy, ghosts, goblins and the supernatural to American fiction. He experienced periods of gloom and obsession with death during his lifetime. His ghost has been reportedly seen in a window of a bedroom that faces the Hudson River and also in his study located on the east side of the cottage, away from the river. The Complete Tales Of Washington Irving19th Century American Literature)

2. Washington Irving’s fiancee Matilda Hoffmanm

Irving’s shy and beguiling fiancĂ©e is said to haunt a trove of trees from which she watches Irving’s cottage. She died on April 26, 1809 at the age of 17 from complications from a cold that led to consumption. Sunnyside

3. The five caring nieces of Washington Irving

They were the daughters of Irving’s elder brother Ebenzer. After the visitors are gone, they still tidy the house. Sunnyside

4. The woman who ate green apples

A young woman, suffering from a lost love, wandered through the orchard, ate too many green apples, died and stayed as a ghost according to Washington Irving III, great-great grandnephew of Washington Irving. Sunnyside

5. The Headless Horseman, a mercenary Hessian trooper

Washington Irving’s famous character was a mercenary Hessian trooper whose head was blown away by a cannon ball during the American Revolution. He returns at night to the scene of the battle. Take cover if you hear hoofbeats. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

6. Abraham Martling, Washington Irving’s inspiration for Brom Bones

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

7. Eleanor van Tassel Brush, Washington Irving’s model for Katrina

She was the love interest of Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

8. Baltus Van Tassel, father of Eleanor van Tassel Brush

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

9. Samuel Youngs, Washington Irving’s model for Ichabod Crane

He was a schoolteacher and later a lawyer. Ichabod Crane was met by the Headless Horseman in the vicinity of Patriot’s Park; the route of their chase has been guessed at but the timber bridge has long since been gone. An existing bridge called the Headless Horseman Bridge over the Pocantico River at North Broadway (identified by a metal blue sign with yellow lettering) is not where the encounter took place; this bridge was erected around 1912. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow and Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown

10. Henry Hudson and his Half Moon crew

The ghosts of Henry Hudson and his crew play ninepins upstate at Kaaterskill Falls where Rip Van Winkle napped for 20 years and missed the American Revolution. That's a long trip but visitors can see the bronze statue of a reclining life-size Rip Van Winkle in Irvington. Hudson's crew haunts Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains. The statue however is on Main Street next to the town hall in Irvington, NY.

11. Revolutionary War Major John Andre

Major John Andre was caught by three American militiamen with papers describing the defenses at West Point. His conspiracy with Benedict Arnold exposed, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Angry at both the Americans for denying his request to be executed by firing squad and the British for refusing an offer of exchange for Benedict Arnold, he died in a rage. His ghost is said to roam Patriot’s Park where he can be heard reciting a poem he penned that was published in the Riverton’s Gazette on the day he was captured. In the poem, he wrote, “What hero could refuse to tread the rugged path to fame.” Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown.

12. Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

General Anthony Wayne, who carried out the order to hang Major Andre, was the commander of the American forces assigned to patrol the Hudson River. His ghost is said to haunt the riverfront but out of respect for Andre’s ghost, it carefully avoids Patriot’s Park. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow waterfronts.

13. Hulda the Witch

An immigrant from Bohemia, shunned and feared by her Tarrytown neighbors, she fired on British troops with deadly accuracy during the American Revolution. After killing many redcoats, she fell mortally wounded. Later, her neighbors discovered a will in her home leaving her money and possessions to the widows of patriots who died during the war. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

14. Captain Kidd (1654-1701)

A notorious pirate whose gold and buried treasure is still sought, some of which may have been buried along the Hudson River. His ship stopped at or near Tarrytown where he had dealings with wealthy local merchants. He was hanged by the British on May 23, 1701. Exact locations unknown

15. The crew of Captain Kidd’s pirate ship, the Adventure Galley

When Captain Kidd buried gold and other loot, his crew members drew lots. The losers were killed and their bodies were placed on on top of the treasure chests to repel intruders. As ghosts, they remain fierce sentries destined to guard Kidd’s treasures forever. Exact locations unknown

16. A woman mistaken as Captain Kidd’s bride

She was captured in Tarrytown, tried for piracy and executed. She is believed to be either a traveler who booked passage to Tarrytown looking for work or or a slave or servant intended for a rich merchant. Her ghost proclaims her innocence as she waits for the vessel that brought her to Tarrytown believing it is coming to her rescue. Tarrytown’s river edge

17. The pirate whose skull was battered by Captain Kidd

In a fit of rage, Captain Kidd killed a member of his crew by striking him with an iron water bucket. Kidd was hung for the murder of this sailor, not for piracy. Tarrytown’s river edge

18. An intoxicated villager

He was a local resident who lost his balance and drowned while attempting to navigate his rowboat across the Tappan Zee; boaters say he often waves to passing vessels. Tarrytown waterfront

19. Five young women slain by a mad monk

Five innocent young women, believed to be virgins, died at the hands of a mad monk. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

20. The mad monk accused of murdering the five young women

Before he could be tried, the monk was killed by a house servant, the lover of one of the five women, who then sealed the monk’s body in the manor’s walls. The house was owned by John Jacob Astor, a close friend of Washington Irving and at one time, the richest man in America. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

21. The Armour-Stiner house’s odoriferous guest

This ghost exudes an “exquisite and unidentifiable fragrance” according to a passage in a book written by poet and historian Carl Carmer, best known for his autobiographical book, “Stars Fell on Alabama.” The ghost’s identity is unknown but it is believed to be either Aleko E. Lilius, a Finnish writer and explorer, or the woman he cohabited with, a 20th-century lady pirate who made a fortune plundering vessels in the China Seas. Theories have also arisen that the ghost is Paul J. Armour, the New York banker who built the house in 1860, or Joseph Stiner, a wealthy tea merchant who bought it in 1872. An eight-sided domed and colonnaded structure in Irvington built in 1860 and resembling a classic Roman temple

22. Sybil Harris King, known as “the apparition in white”

She was the daughter of Benjamin Newton Duke, co-founder of the American Tobacco Company. She has been heard pacing up and down the second-floor hallways of the King House in Tarrytown. She was married to Frederick King, son of Thomas King, vice president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the country’s first major railroad. She died in 1955. Located on the grounds of the 26-acre Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center

23. The woman who froze to death at Raven Rock

She lost her way during a storm and became trapped by blinding snowdrifts in the hill behind the rock. Her wailing, similar to the sound of the wind, warns travelers not to seek safety here. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

24. The Indian maiden who died at Raven Rock

She fell or leaped to her death from Raven Rock when pursued by Tory raiders. In another version of this story, it is said she was fleeing a jealous admirer. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

25. The engineer of Lincoln’s funeral train

It is said that once a year in April, a 14-car black funeral train with a ghost at the throttle sounds a deafening whistle as it approaches Sunnyside. The piercing sound wakes Irving’s ghost as the train chugs toward Tarrytown carrying Abraham Lincoln’s body, just as his funeral train did in 1865 when it traveled from New York City to Buffalo and eventually to Springfield, Ohio, Lincoln’s final burying place. Sunnyside cottage - tarrytown.patch

Washington Irving : History, Tales, and Sketches: The Sketch Book / A History of New York / Salmagundi / Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. (Library of America)19th Century American Literature)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

'Dreamwork for Visionary Living' by Rosemary Ellen Guiley


During her most recent guest appearance on Arcane Radio, dream expert Rosemary Ellen Guiley detailed how to interpret dreams and some of the criteria in her workshops. She also recounted her early experiences with dreams and what it has meant to her personally and for her career.

She also announced the publication of Dreamwork for Visionary Living, a practical guide to pro-active dreaming....and using your dreams in targeted ways to improve day-to-day living. This guide defines the power to transform your life...emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.

Rosemary has gathered techniques and wisdom from ancient times to the present, giving special emphasis to dreams that transcend ordinary reality and address our biggest spiritual questions: who we are, why we are here, where we are going, and what life’s journey means.

The book features 37 innovative dream labs, easy and practical ways to apply pro-active dreaming to any aspect of daily and spiritual life. I found the concepts very easy to follow and comprehend...and intrigued by the narratives added with the dream labs.

Some of the more fascinating chapters, in my opinion, dealt with healing, psychic dreaming, using dreams in the spiritual realm and out-of-body dreaming. I soon developed a divergent perception of ordinary daily routines. This has improved my focus while conducting research and writing. There are other techniques in this guide that I plan to implement into my life, especially the intriguing use of dreams for healing.

I highly recommend Dreamwork for Visionary Living for those who are interested in developing alternate means of self-help and for understanding how you can expand your sense of reality.

Dreamwork for Visionary Living
By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Visionary Living, Inc., 2014, paperback, 240 pgs.

You can order your book directly through Visionary Living, Inc.


More titles by Rosemary Ellen Guiley:

The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology

The Encyclopedia of Angels, Second Edition

Dream Messages from the Afterlife

Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain State


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Neighbors


I grew up in a bedroom community outside of New York City. It was the 1970's and all the Father's in the neighborhood commuted to work while our Mothers were stay-at-home 'Moms'. All the Moms were busy-bodies and basically had their noses in each other's business. The talk of the neighborhood was the family that lived beside us - the Smiths.

The Smiths were very strange. There was Mr and Mrs. Smith who looked like they were in their 40's and their kids, a son and a daughter. The kids were early teens - and we never knew their names! They didn't go to school so we assumed they were home-schooled. The only time we saw them was when the whole family would walk single file to the garage in the back of their house and drive away in their Rambler station wagon. My Mom talked to Mrs. Smith once right after they moved in, but that was it. They never answered the door and there was no telephone listing.

Mr. Smith never drove to work and Mrs. Smith was never seen shopping or doing any chores. The yard work was taken care of by two men who would drive up in a gray service truck once a week during the spring and summer. They would cut the lawn and trim the hedges. There were no flowers or trees - no lawn furniture - nothing.

One of our neighbors called the Mayor's office about the kids and school - but we never saw anyone ever come to the house. In fact, they never received mail (the postman told us) and there were never any deliveries.

The Smiths lived there for about 4 years. We didn't even know they had left until another (normal) family moved in. They told us that the house had been on the market for several months and that it was purchased through a Government auction - but that seemed strange as well.

Here's another strange neighbor account:

I've got a strange story for you. The people who live across the street are either into something weird or the house is haunted. They moved in a few months ago, a husband and wife. I'll call them Jack and Jill. Every night we hear loud 'hums' coming from the house. There are never any lights on inside or outside. Also my dogs and my neighbor's dog start to howl when the hums begin. I can't get my dog to shut up. It's so bad I have to keep him in the basement at night. The hums go on for about an hour.

I confronted Jack one day about the hums. He looked at me like I was nuts. He then got real nasty and told me to mind my own business. My neighbor got fed up and called the police. The police showed up and told them to stop. The hums continued so the police searched the place and found nothing. The hums continue. Any idea what it is?

NOTE: about a year later I received another email from this witness who said the neighbors moved out and the hums stopped...Lon

How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird

Bow-Wow's Nightmare Neighbors

People of Walmart: Shop and Awe


Astral Perceptions Universal...Thanks For Your Support

I want to thank all those friends and associates who have showed support of Astral Perceptions & Astral Perceptions Universal. Regardless of the obsessive clamoring & invidious claims by others, I am simply making an effort to help people with those abilities that have been afforded to me. It is apparent, through the testimonials of my clients, that there have been positive results.

Astral Perceptions Universal is a 'not for profit' organization. Our clients are never asked or pressured to compensate us for the services we provide. My goal is to provide a professional and confidential resolution, including continued personal support and guidance.

Thanks again for your faith in me...Lon

I can be contacted here

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Origins of 13 Superstitions

The following is an interesting piece on the origin of several odd and well-known superstitions. British author Harry Oliver has just released in the U.S. "Black Cats & Four-Leaf Clovers", a book that explores the origins of superstitions and old wives' tales from around the world.

1. Don't Walk Under a Ladder: After researching this superstition for a year at the British Library in London, Oliver says the belief's most-cited origin points to "a ladder forming a triangle with the wall and the ground, suggesting the Holy Trinity." Apparently, walking through that triangle would show disrespect to the Trinity and therefore bring bad luck. Another possible (and much simpler) origin: Where there's a ladder, there's usually someone working on top and walking underneath could lead to all sorts of cartoonish accidents, like a hammer falling on someone's head.

2. Black Cats Bring Bad Luck:
Oliver says black cats are notoriously linked to witchcraft, which is why some people think they're unlucky. However, there are two sides to this one. Allegedly, if a cat crosses your path it's considered unlucky, but if a cat walks toward you, it's a good omen. Should the first scenario happen, though, Oliver says the "only way to avert the back luck is to spit."

3. Never Light Three Cigarettes With the Same Match: This superstition originated in military circles and dates back to those long nights in the trenches during World War I. "If three soldiers smoked at once, enemy snipers would easily detect them," says Oliver. "If they used the same match to light all three cigarettes, snipers would notice the match burning after the first one and would have enough time to load guns, aim and fire at the unlucky third smoker."

4. Carrots Are Good for Your Eyesight: Though some studies have shown that the vitamin A in carrots is good for the eyes, the vegetable alone isn't enough to spark 20/20 vision. Oliver says this old wives' tale -- or smart attempt by parents to get their children to eat their veggies -- originated as a myth during World War II. "That's when British pilots where rumored to be eating enormous amounts of carrots to see from high altitudes and in the dark. The rumor was widely spread to throw the public off from the fact that radar had been invented and was being used against the enemy," he says.

5. Cross Your Fingers: If you look hard enough, you can see this superstition has religious roots. Oliver says that crossing your fingers is a type of holy protection because the two overlapping fingers form a "slanted cross." This "good luck" ritual varies around the globe -- in Switzerland, people fold their thumbs in and wrap their other fingers around them instead of the standard index-and-middle-finger combination.

6. Don't Open an Umbrella in The House:
The origins of this belief are simple -- what's designed for the outdoors should remain outside. While today's version of the old umbrella superstition is said to simply bring "bad luck," Oliver says there used to be a much darker cloud hanging over the belief in ancient times. "In earlier versions, opening an umbrella inside was an omen of death," he explains.

7. Always Have Something in the Oven:
This old Jewish superstition could be considered "family friendly." Supposedly, leaving an oven empty will cause one's family to go hungry in the future. To avoid famine, it's enough to leave a baking sheet or a pan in the oven at all times as a precaution. "This belief is linked to ancient rituals in which food was left for household gods in order to ensure protection of the family," Oliver explains.

8. Wear Underwear Inside Out:
When having a bad day, superstition suggests that turning your underwear inside out can make it all better. Oliver isn't quite sure where this odd belief came from, but we wouldn't be surprised if originated on a wild college campus somewhere, perhaps during a post-party "walk of shame."

9. Kiss a Mustachioed Man, End Up a Spinster:
There are more superstitions revolving around marriage than we can count, and that includes "kissing a dark-skinned man at a wedding." If a woman does this, she'll supposedly get a marriage proposal shortly thereafter. But watch who you're smooching, ladies. If a woman kisses a man with a mustache and finds a stray hair on her lip after, she's destined to be a spinster.

10. Don't Praise Babies in China: If you're in China and you come across an adorable newborn baby, do not under any circumstances compliment the little one. In China, it's considered "unlucky" to praise babies because it "attracts the attention of ghosts and demons." Instead, Oliver says it's customary to "talk badly about babies" to keep evil entities away. Rather than getting upset, parents are told to convert those insults into praise quietly in their heads.

11. Don't Chew Gum at Night in Turkey: Even if your breath stinks, popping in a stick of gum after dinner in Turkey is a bad idea. "It's thought that if you're chewing gum at night in Turkey, you're actually chewing the flesh of the dead," says Oliver. Gross.

12. Lucky Four-Leaf Clovers: Because of how scarce four-leaf clovers really are, just finding one in a field is lucky in and of itself. Oliver says the rare leaf represents everything one could possibly desire in life: "wealth, fame, love and health."

Unlucky 13: The number 13 -- and Friday the 13th -- are considered unfortunate in many places, and the reasons go back to the Bible. Remember, Jesus had 13 disciples until one of them -- Judas -- betrayed him. - AOLNews

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hex Murder In Rehmeyer Hollow


In Webster’s dictionary, witchcraft is defined as the act or instance of employing sorcery, especially with malevolent intent: a magical rite or technique. The religious will say if you believe in God, and believe in what the Bible says, then you must believe in the powers of evil as well. You cannot take one side and then completely discount the other side...basically, evil power is real and witchcraft is the use of it. In reality, though, there is a very fine line between good and evil.

When it came to folk magic or witchcraft in my neck of the woods, Pow-wow was the preferred mystic art. Pow-wow is a unique combination of Christian theology and shamanistic belief. Shamanism is the oldest form of religion and the belief is that there is one Supreme Being...that all is derived from this and is interrelated. In Europe, Shamanic practitioners were persecuted as witches in the name of orthodox religion. It is still practiced in some rural areas of Pennsylvania, though it has been outlawed for several generations. In spite of the name, it is not of Native American derivation. The name comes from the book Pow-wows, or, The Long Lost Friend, written by John George Hohman and first published in German as Der Lange Verborgene Freund in 1820. The subtitle of the booklet hints at the breadth of its contents...a collection of mysterious and invaluable arts and remedies for man as well as animals with many proofs of their virtue and efficacy in healing diseases, etc. It was recognized mainly by Pennsylvania Dutch hex-meisters but after the translation to English in 1846, it had a tremendous influence on the commoner folk magicians of the Appalachians. This little book includes healing spells, binding spells, protective spells, wards and benedictions. Though I’m not a religious person, I am spiritual (and a bit superstitious...I’ll cover that later) and always have my copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' near me...it’s my personal talisman.

All religions have an upside and a downside. The downside of the Judeo-Christian tradition is Satanism. The downside of Pow-wow was corruption by practitioners, the hex-meisters, who would cast spells or hexes on anyone for a price. Hex-meisters were deeply feared by most people from all walks of life. These German immigrants came to Pennsylvania during the late 1800s and unlike the regular practitioners of Pow-wow, who were mainly of lower class and came here for religious freedom, these newcomers were of the middle and upper classes. There was, at the time, a revival of occultism in Europe, some of which was Satanic. This first wave of immigrant Germans brought this influence with them and became better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

In 1895, John Blymire was born in York County, Pa...into the world of witchcraft, magick and superstition. His father and grandfather were Pow-wows and he inherited their healing abilities, but not the strength of their skills. When Blymire was five, he suffered from opnema, a wasting away of the body that was believed to be caused by hexes, but was usually caused by poor diet and malnutrition. Neither his grandfather nor father could cure him, so they took him to a powerful Pow-wow healer named Nelson Rehmeyer who eventually cured him. (Note: Nelson D. Rehmeyer was a distant relative through marriage on my father’s maternal side. Several generations of the Rehmeyer family and my grandmother’s family attended the same church)

John Blymire

At age seven, Blymire attempted his first cure and was successful. He was of limited intelligence, homely and only modestly successful as a Pow-wow. People avoided him, except when they needed his Pow-wow skills. Because of this, Blymire was very lonely.

When he was thirteen, he quit school and worked in a cigar factory in York, Pa. He kept to himself, but word got out that he could heal. He supplemented his cigar factory earnings by accepting voluntary offerings for his work as a Pow-wow.

One day, there was an incident that should have made his reputation as a powerful Pow-wow. When work was done, Blymire and the other workers were leaving the factory when someone screamed that a "mad" dog was approaching. A collie, foaming at the mouth, was coming toward them. People tried to go inside the factory, but those leaving blocked their way. Blymire stood between them and the rabid dog, uttered an incantation and made the sign of the cross over the dog's head. The dog's mouth stopped foaming and it seemed to be cured of rabies. Blymire patted it on the head and the dog, tail wagging, followed him as he walked down the street.

Shortly after this incident, Blymire suffered from the opnema again. He was convinced someone had put a hex on him, possibly a jealous Pow-wow who did not want him to be successful. He quit his job in order to discover who had hexed him. He worked in odd jobs and practiced Pow-wow for financial survival and lived in rooming houses. It was at a rooming house where he met Lily, the woman who would become his wife. His health gradually improved and he found a regular job. His Pow-wow clientele steadily increased and it appeared the hex was removed or no longer worked.

Then disaster struck...Blymire's first child died within a few weeks after birth. Then a second child passed away three days after birth. In the meantime, his health declined and he lost his job.

Again, Blymire consulted with other witches to find out who had hexed him. One was Andrew C. Lenhart, a powerful witch who was feared by many police and city officials. Lenhart stated that he was hexed by someone close to him and Blymire was convinced it was Lily. She began to fear him and her father hired a lawyer who had Blymire evaluated by a psychiatrist. The diagnosis was borderline psychoneurosis. Blymire was committed to a state mental hospital from which he escaped by walking out of the door. There was no effort to recommit him.

In 1928, Blymire returned to work at the cigar factory where he met 14-year-old John Curry who had a cruel childhood due to abuse and believed he was hexed. Shortly after this, they met a farmer, Milton J. Hess who believed he was hexed. He and his wife were of Pennsylvania Dutch stock. They obeyed all of the regulations and rules hex-meisters gave them. Milton had been a successful farmer...crops flourished, chickens laid the right amount of eggs and the cows' milk was plentiful. His wife, Alice had a stand at the farmer's market, where she sold vegetables, flowers and fruit.

Hess explained that in 1926, for no apparent reason, things took a downward spiral. Crops began to fail, chickens were stolen and those that weren't did not lay eggs, cows would not eat and no longer produced milk. Milton's health was also severely affected. Wilbert, his 17-year-old son was also affected, psychologically, by hearing his father complain about the failures and lack of money and his mother changing from an energetic cheerful woman into a sad and silent one who withdrew from communicating with family. The family was convinced they were hexed. Hess got a job as a truck driver and Alice still had her stand, now, out of financial necessity.

In June, 1928, Hess met Blymire who lived in the Widow Detwiler's boarding house in an alley. They would talk daily and the conversation, eventually, turned to hexes. About this time, Blymire consulted Nellie Noll, who was known as the ‘Witch of Marietta’, also as the ‘River Witch’ in the attempt to discover who had hexed him. She told him that it was the ‘Witch of Rehmeyer Hollow'...after much coaxing from Blymire, she named Nelson D. Rehmeyer.

Hess invited Blymire, as a ‘Pow-wower’ or ‘Braucher’, to his farm where the witch could see its condition for himself. He asked Blymire who had hexed the family, but he could not remember the name, so he visited Nellie Noll again. Again, she named Nelson D. Rehmeyer and added that Rehmeyer had also hexed Curry. She told him that all they had to do was to get Rehmeyer's copy of John George Hohman's 'Pow-wows or Long Lost Friend' and burn it. If they could not do that, they must get a lock of his hair and bury it 6 to 8 feet underground.

Once Blymire, Curry and the Hesses knew who had hexed them and what had to be done, there was a conference. Attending this meeting were Blymire, Curry and Milton, older brother Clayton and Wilbert Hess. Soon, plans were made for Blymire, Curry and Wilbert Hess to visit Rehmeyer and get a lock of hair or the book, do as they were directed and the hex would be removed. Clayton, the only family member who had a car, would drive them to the hollow. As events happened, Wilbert said he did not feel well and did not want to go. Blymire said it was OK if he did not. He and Curry would get the book or the lock of hair and would do what they had to.

The following information was taken from trial transcripts and records:


Nelson D. Rehmeyer, the 'Witch of Rehmeyer Hollow'

When they got to Rehmeyer's house, they discovered he was not home. They walked to the witch's ex-wife's house and saw a light through the window, so they knocked on the door. The duo was told that Rehmeyer was probably at his lady friend’s house. They walked back to the witch's house and noticed a light on the second floor.

Blymire knocked on the door. Rehmeyer opened the door...he was much larger than Blymire remembered and was mean looking. Blymire asked if they could come in and Rehmeyer led them to the parlor where they sat and started to talk.

Blymire asked Rehmeyer if he had seen the book. The response was yes. The next question was if he had one. Again, the answer was affirmative. Blymire was satisfied with the answers. The conversation, then, turned to more mundane topics. Finally, Rehmeyer asked them why they had stopped by. Blymire told him that he had cured him of the opnema when he was a child and he had worked by picking potatoes for him.

Blymire, while they talked, try to mentally will Rehmeyer to hand over the book, but this was not effective. After a while, Rehmeyer said he was going to bed and they could sleep downstairs if they wanted to.

Curry quickly fell asleep while Blymire stayed awake trying to will the old witch to give them the book. Finally, he woke Curry and told him that he could not control Rehmeyer's mind. Should they try to use force and make him give them the book or a lock of hair? Blymire decided against this because the old witch was a big man and could easily overpower them. He decided they needed help.

That morning, Rehmeyer got up early and made the duo breakfast before they left. At some point, they bought a 25 foot length of strong rope and cut it into lengths of about 14 inches.

On Wednesday, November 27th, 1928, the night of the full moon and eve before Thanksgiving, Clayton drove the trio to Rehmeyer's Hollow. The three walked to Rehmeyer's house.

They demanded that he give them the book. He threw his wallet at them. Then, the three attacked Rehmeyer. Blymire wrapped a length of rope around Rehmeyer's neck. The trio fought savagely with the old man...Curry got a block of wood and hit Rehmeyer in the head. The old man was kicked in the head and the stomach and his face was battered. Blymire said he groaned, took a few breaths, then died.

They ransacked the house and found a small amount of money. The trio decided they had to get rid of the evidence that would tie them into the murder. Curry thought setting fire to the house would achieve this. They lit matches and dropped them in the house to set the fire. The house was smoldering when they left.

The house did not burn as they thought it would. A neighbor, Oscar Glatfelter, was passing by Rehmeyer's house on November 30th and heard his mule braying. When the man checked on the animal, he saw it had not been fed. Glatfelter knocked on the door and there was no answer, but the door was unlocked. After the neighbor entered the house, he saw Rehmeyer's corpse lying on the floor.

The Rehmeyer House during the murder investigation

It did not take the police long to arrest Blymire, Curry and Wilbert for the murder of Rehmeyer. All three confessed and Blymire said he was at peace now that he had killed the witch. The newswire services informed the public that a practicing witch had been killed in York County, Pa.

The trials began on January 9th, 1929. Judge Sherwood presided. District Attorney Amos W. Herrmann represented the commonwealth. Public defenders Walter W. VanBaman represented Curry and Herbert B. Cohen, Blymire. The Hess family could afford to hire Harvey A. Gross, the best criminal defense attorney in the area.

Judge Sherwood decreed that all mention of hexes and witchcraft in the confessions be edited out before they were admitted to records. The attempts of the defense attorneys to make hexes and witchcraft a matter of record via testimony were quashed.

Herrmann made his opening statements, avoiding all mention of witchcraft and hexes and forgot to mention the motive for the murder that the judge wanted. He was sharply reminded of this. The decreed motive was robbery and, then, was stated.

When Cohen tried to bring out testimony about witchcraft, the judge thwarted his efforts.

The trials were the some of the speediest in Pennsylvania history. By obstruction of justice, the judge got what he wanted, guilty verdicts, Blymire and Curry, murder in the first degree and Hess, murder in the second degree.

The sentences were handed down on January 14th. Blymire and Curry were given life in prison and Wilbert was given 10 to 20 years. In 1934, Hess and Curry were paroled and lived quiet lives in the York area. Curry became an artist and died in 1962. Blymire was finally paroled in 1953, returned to York and worked as a janitor.

*********

The Hex House in Rehmeyer Hollow, East Hopewell Township, York County, Pa.

This case has always intrigued me...especially after I read Arthur Lewis’ account of the incident in his book ‘Hex’. I also remember the tales of paranormal activity in Rehmeyer Hollow and the reports of strange apparitions, said to be Nelson Rehmeyer’s spirit, roaming the property nightly.

During my senior year in high school, I decided to make a short trip to Rehmeyer Hollow to see what all the fuss was. I had found a copy of Pow-Wows: Long Lost Friend, a Collection of Mysteries and Invaluable Arts and Remedies and decided to carry it with me. Like I said earlier, I’m a bit superstitious and thought the book may protect me in some way.

I made the journey alone in mid October 1975...it was late afternoon when I arrived at a locked gate that was suspended over the access road that had a ‘No Trespassing’ sign attached to it. At that time, the sparse open areas were overgrown with briers and high weeds. The woods were very thick and dark and as I started walking on the road I could make out the roof of the small house jutting over the trees. As I approached, I noticed what looked like an older man in dark pants and a jacket standing on the road near the bend that led to the house….I estimated he was about 150 feet in front of me. It looked like he was searching for something because he was looking face down in a peculiar manner.

I stopped walking and stood for a few seconds watching this person go back and forth across the road, never raising their head. So I decided it was time to find out if this was a caretaker or if it was OK for me proceed any further even though I knew was trespassing.

I shouted “hello...sir”. No response. So I was about to shout again thinking this person was hard of hearing or possibly ignoring me. Just as I began to open my mouth to shout, this person quickly looked up and....

Now, I realize that I was a fair distance away but this ‘person’ that, I swear to this day, had no facial features. No eyes, no mouth, no nose...just a head. I spun around and hauled my butt back to the car. The ghost hunt was over. I wheeled my Mustang out of that hollow onto the main road in record time. Honestly, I don’t remember the drive home. I was absolutely stunned by the experience.

A few days later, my girlfriend and I were in my room and she found ‘The Long Lost Friend’ on my desk. I was lying on the bed with headphones on when I looked over and saw that she was looking in the book. As I watched her, I noticed that there was writing on the book cover. I had purchased the book as new, had never written in it or had it anywhere other than when I was at Rehmeyer Hollow. As I looked closer, there was an “NR” written in pencil.

The next day, I lit the grill in the backyard and promptly burned the book and buried the ashes. I wasn’t leaving anything to ‘chance’. A few weeks later, I purchase a new copy of ‘The Long Lost Friend’ and it’s been with me since.

**********

Pow-wow

The following is a description of how the Pow-wower applied their skills in 20th-century York County, as noted by Arthur H. Lewis in his 1969 book Hex:

Except for two days a month, the Rohrbaugh Convalescent Home in rural Spring Grove, York County, Pennsylvania, is about as quiet a spot as you're likely to find anywhere in the Keystone State. But on the first and sixteenth, it becomes a mecca for scores of ailing men, women and children who flock to this tiny village, there to be powwowed back to health by Mrs. Leah Frank.

Mistakenly, I assumed there was some significance in the choice of the two days on which Mrs. Frank practices her profession.

"When I reached ninety, and that was four years ago," Mrs. Frank explained, "I thought maybe I'd better quit altogether; it's so hard on a body. But my people wouldn't let me, tole me they needed me. So, instead of workin' every day, I tole 'em I'd 'try for' two days a month and I picked the first and the sixteenth. Then people will know when to come and not be disappointed in between. That's all there is to it."

Through the windows of the second-floor bedroom she seldom leaves, Mrs. Frank can view the soft hills of York County where she has lived all her years. As a matter of fact, the aged powwower spends most of her daylight hours in an old-fashioned Morris chair facing the east. "I'd rather see the sun come up than go down," she says gently.

Except for a slight diminution in hearing and arthritis, only lately beginning to cripple the long, tapered fingers she needs for "laying on" ill or otherwise troubled patients, Mrs. Frank remains in excellent health. Her cheeks, though wrinkled, have a healthy glow; her teeth are her own, and her sharp blue eyes still regard with abiding interest that small portion of the world she sees.

"Prettiest part of the world, though I wouldn't know much about the rest of it," Mr. Frank said in a clear voice with a strong Pennsylvania Dutch inflection. "Born and raised ten miles from here and never been no further away than forty. But you don't have to travel to learn things and how to take care of 'em that needs you, do you?"

She smiled and went on.

"I've been tryin' for people for a long, long time. I always know'd I had the power but I learned how to use it from a veterinarian who practiced powwowin' too. That was back in 1904; I've been doin' it ever since.

"Course that's not all I ever done. I just used to try for people on the side like most of us faith healers do. From the time I was a little girl 'till I was seventy-seven years I worked in a mill and I worked hard, too. Anymore I don't work so hard. Now I'm so old I only powwow."

What troubles Mrs. Frank is the current shortage of apprentices willing to undergo the rigors of training in order to become worthy practitioners.

"I don't mean those that don't have the power inside 'em 'cause they'll never learn no matter how much they want to. Some of 'em try but I always say to 'em, 'If you can't stop blood, you'll never be a powwower, so don't waste your time.'"

"What I'm referrin' to is those that got the power but don't want to use it. It ain't easy; you have to work hard and it makes you mighty tired to try for people.

Mrs. Frank did not elaborate upon the curriculum required before the neophyte can become a full-fledged practitioner. She did say, however, that after "blood stopping," which, incidentally, she claims can never be taught and must be known congenitally, the next training step is wart removal. After that come the many other branches of the discipline concluding with cures for the opnema, St. Anthony's fire and finally tumors.

Mrs. Frank also holds to the orthodox belief, one shared by the majority of her colleagues, that an instructor in powwowism or witchcraft may impart his knowledge only to members of the opposite sex.

"A man shouldn't teach another man or boy and a woman can't teach another woman or girl," claims this nonagenarian necromancer. "I'm helpin' train a young man who lives 'round here and he's doin' all right. But I sure wish I could teach my granddaughter. She was born with the power but she don't know how to use it. She could do wonderful good."

I asked Mrs. Frank what would happen if she attempted to teach the profession to her granddaughter. She shuddered.

"Oh, my goodness! That would be terrible. I'd suffer for it the rest of my days and maybe lose my own power if I tried."

Like the Willow Street powwower, to whom she is not related, Mrs. Frank is aware of the present of evil area witches. However, she does not subscribe to Clair Frank's depressing theory that practitioners of the black art are getting smarter as well as increasingly numerous.

"Not many of 'em 'round as there used to be," Mrs. Frank said cheerfully. "And they're getting dumber and dumber all the time. But when I was a girl!"


NOTE: In 1988, the film Apprentice to Murder was released and starred Donald Sutherland, Chad Lowe and Mia Sara. The story was based on the Rehmeyer Hollow Murder...Lon

Sources:
Lewis, Arthur H., 'Hex' (1969) - Trident Press
yorkblog.com
holysmoke.org
ghostvillage.com
www.ydr.com
Yronwode, Catherine, 'Hoodoo in Theory and Practice'
luckymojo.com
Georg Hohman, Johann, 'Pow-Wows or The Long Lost Friend' (1820)
yorktownsquare.com
communitybulletin.com
strangeusa.com




Hex

Murder and Mayhem in York County



Apprentice to Murder - Movie Poster - 11 x 17 Inch (28cm x 44cm)

Pow-Wows: Long Lost Friend, a Collection of Mysteries and Invaluable Arts and Remedies

Hex and Spellwork: The Magical Practices of the Pennsylvania Dutch

The Red Church or The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei

The Realness of Witchcraft in America: Witch-Doctors, Apparitions, Pow-wows, Hexerei, Angels, Devils, Hex, Sex