Sunday, March 25, 2018

Gruesome Origins of Favorite Fairy Tales


Fairy tales of the past were often full of macabre and gruesome twists and endings. Disney and other film production companies have sanitized these stories for a modern audience that is deemed unable to cope with something other than a happy ending. This list looks at some of the common endings we are familiar with...and explains the original gruesome origins.

The Pied Piper - Robert Browning

In the tale of the Pied Piper, we have a village overrun with rats. A man arrives dressed in clothes of pied (a patchwork of colors) and offers to rid the town of the vermin. The villagers agree to pay a vast sum of money if the piper can do it - and he does. He plays music on his pipe which draws all the rats out of the town. When he returns for payment - the villagers won’t cough up so the Pied Piper decides to rid the town of children too! In most modern variants, the piper draws the children to a cave out of the town and when the townsfolk finally agree to pay up, he sends them back. In the darker original, the piper leads the children to a river where they all drown (except a lame boy who couldn’t keep up). Some modern scholars say that there are connotations of pedophilia in this fairy tale. The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Little Red Riding Hood - Brothers Grimm

The version of this tale that most of us are familiar with ends with Riding Hood being saved by the woodsman who kills the wicked wolf. But in fact, the original French version (by Charles Perrault) of the tale was not quite so nice. In this version, the little girl is a well bred young lady who is given false instructions by the wolf when she asks the way to her grandmothers. Foolishly riding hood takes the advice of the wolf and ends up being eaten. And here the story ends. There is no woodsman - no grandmother - just a fat wolf and a dead Red Riding Hood. The moral to this story is to not take advice from strangers. Little Red Riding Hood

The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen

The 1989 version of the Little Mermaid might be better known as “The big whopper!” In the Disney version, the film ends with Ariel the mermaid being changed into a human so she can marry Eric. They marry in a wonderful wedding attended by humans and merpeople. But, in the very first version by Hans Christian Andersen, the mermaid sees the Prince marry a princess and she despairs. She is offered a knife with which to stab the prince to death, but rather than do that she jumps into the sea and dies by turning to froth. Hans Christian Andersen modified the ending slightly to make it more pleasant. In his new ending, instead of dying when turned to froth, she becomes a “daughter of the air” waiting to go to heaven - so, frankly, she is still dead for all intents and purposes. The Little Mermaid

Snow White - Brothers Grimm

In the tale of snow white that we are all familiar with, the Queen asks a huntsman to kill her and bring her heart back as proof. Instead, the huntsman can’t bring himself to do it and returns with the heart of a boar. Now, fortunately disney hasn’t done too much damage to this tale, but they did leave out one important original element: in the original tale, the Queen actually asks for Snow White’s liver and lungs - which are to be served for dinner that night! Also in the original, Snow White wakes up when she is jostled by the prince’s horse as he carries her back to his castle - not from a magical kiss. What the prince wanted to do with a dead girl’s body I will leave to your imagination. Oh - in the Grimm version, the tale ends with the Queen being forced to dance to death in red hot iron shoes! Snow White

Sleeping Beauty - Brothers Grimm

In the original sleeping beauty, the lovely princess is put to sleep when she pricks her finger on a spindle. She sleeps for one hundred years when a prince finally arrives, kisses her, and awakens her. They fall in love, marry, and (surprise surprise) live happily ever after. But alas, the original tale is not so sweet (in fact, you have to read this to believe it.) In the original, the young woman is put to sleep because of a prophesy, rather than a curse. And it isn’t the kiss of a prince which wakes her up: the king seeing her asleep, and rather fancying having a bit, rapes her. After nine months she gives birth to two children (while she is still asleep). One of the children sucks her finger which removes the piece of flax which was keeping her asleep. She wakes up to find herself raped and the mother of two kids. Sleeping Beauty

Rumpelstiltskin - Brothers Grimm

This fair tale is a little different from the others because rather than sanitizing the original, it was modified by the original author to make it more gruesome. In the original tale, Rumpelstiltskin spins straw into gold for a young girl who faces death unless she is able to perform the feat. In return, he asks for her first born child. She agrees - but when the day comes to hand over the kid, she can’t do it. Rumpelstiltskin tells her that he will let her off the bargain if she can guess his name. She overhears him singing his name by a fire and so she guesses it correctly. Rumpelstiltskin, furious, runs away, never to be seen again. But in the updated version, things are a little messier. Rumpelstiltskin is so angry that he drives his right foot deep into the ground. He then grabs his left leg and rips himself in half. Needless to say this kills him. - Rumpelstiltskin

Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Robert Southey

In this heart warming tale, we hear of pretty little goldilocks who finds the house of the three bears. She sneaks inside and eats their food, sits in their chairs, and finally falls asleep on the bed of the littlest bear. When the bears return home they find her asleep - she awakens and escapes out the window in terror. The original tale (which actually only dates to 1837) has two possible variations. In the first, the bears find Goldilocks and rip her apart and eat her. In the second, Goldilocks is actually an old hag who (like the sanitized version) jumps out of a window when the bears wake her up. The story ends by telling us that she either broke her neck in the fall, or was arrested for vagrancy and sent to the “House of Correction”. Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Hansel and Gretel - Brothers Grimm

In the widely known version of Hansel and Gretel, we hear of two little children who become lost in the forest, eventually finding their way to a gingerbread house which belongs to a wicked witch. The children end up enslaved for a time as the witch prepares them for eating. They figure their way out and throw the witch in a fire and escape. In an earlier French version of this tale (called The Lost Children), instead of a witch we have a devil. Now the wicked old devil is tricked by the children (in much the same way as Hansel and Gretel) but he works it out and puts together a sawhorse to put one of the children on to bleed (that isn’t an error - he really does). The children pretend not to know how to get on the sawhorse so the devil’s wife demonstrates. While she is lying down the kids slash her throat and escape. Hansel and Gretel

The Girl Without Hands - Brothers Grimm

Frankly, the revised version of this fairy tale is not a great deal better than the original, but there are sufficient differences to include it here. In the new version, a poor man is offered wealth by the devil if he gives him whatever is standing behind his mill. The poor man thinks it is an apple tree and agrees - but it is actually his daughter. The devil tries to take the daughter but can’t - because she is pure, so he threatens to take the father unless the daughter allows her father to chop off her hands. She agrees and the father does the deed. Now - that is not particularly nice, but it is slightly worse in some of the earlier variants in which the young girl chops off her own arms in order to make herself ugly to her brother who is trying to rape her. In another variant, the father chops off the daughter’s hands because she refuses to let him have sex with her. Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales

Cinderella - Charles Perrault / Brothers Grimm

In the modern Cinderella fairy tale we have the beautiful Cinderella swept off her feet by the prince and her wicked step sisters marrying two lords - with everyone living happily ever after. The fairy tale has its origins way back in the 1st century BC where Strabo’s heroine was actually called Rhodopis, not Cinderella. The story was very similar to the modern one with the exception of the glass slippers and pumpkin coach. But, lurking behind the pretty tale is a more sinister variation by the Grimm brothers: in this version, the nasty step-sisters cut off parts of their own feet in order to fit them into the glass slipper - hoping to fool the prince. The prince is alerted to the trickery by two pigeons who peck out the step sister’s eyes. They end up spending the rest of their lives as blind beggars while Cinderella gets to lounge about in luxury at the prince’s castle. The Complete Fairy Tales (Oxford World's Classics)

NOTE: A brief bit about the Brothers Grimm - Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who together collected and published folklore. If you've ever read "Grimm's Fairy Tales" and felt they were a little dark for kids, you have German culture during the early 1800s to thank. After the book was published it attracted criticism for its sexual content, so the brothers edited these themes out of subsequent editions. But because the violence of the stories wasn't frowned upon in the same way, it was retained and in some cases even increased.

The brothers' academic careers were upset in 1837, though, by some political upheaval. When King Ernest Augustus I demanded oaths of allegiance from university professors and other civil servants, Jacob and Wilhelm refused. They were fired from their posts, along with five other professors, and three of the group, including Jacob, were deported. He moved back to Germany and was joined by Wilhelm, but found themselves impoverished, and had to rely on the financial support of friends.

In 1840 their fortunes changed when both Jacob and Wilhelm received job offers from the University of Berlin. There, they continued their research; further polished their folk tale collection, now in its third edition. The two brothers continued working together for the rest of their lives. When Wilhelm died in 1859, the Grimms' collection of folk tales had reached its 7th edition and had grown to 200 tales.

In the film, The Brothers Grimm the pair were depicted as con-artist pretending to remove evil spirits and malevolent entities as they traveled from town to town in 19th Century Germany. There is no basis for these characterizations and should be consider as fiction.

The Grimm's collection of folklore had already been popular during their lifetimes, but it went on to become one of the most celebrated works of German literature and the basis for countless books and movies during the next two centuries. On the list of the best-selling authors of all time, some figures place the Grimms in third place...preceded only by Shakespeare and the Bible. Extracted from CS Monitor - 10/20/2012


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Alien Abduction: The White Room


In 2006 an associate forwarded the following inquiry for my opinion. It had been directed to them by an 'experiencer' name Melody. I originally published this information in July 2011 after I received permission to post after a follow up statement was provided directly to me by Melody. Here is the original inquiry:

Sir - what I am about to reveal to you is an absolute true event. I will describe only what I can recall. I have told my story to two people other than my Mother and Father. One day I hope to be able to remember all of my experience.

I have read several stories of alien abduction and missing time - I would have never believed these recollections before I went through my own ordeal.

In the Summer of 2004 my family (my Mother, Father and I) took a trip to the Bahamas. It was going to be a three-day jaunt to Nassau and a few other spots. I was 17 and was looking forward to my senior year in high school.

We were staying at a beachfront hotel in Nassau which was a large suite with separate bedrooms. We arrived mid-afternoon and started to take in the scenery as soon as we were done checking in. After a long evening of sightseeing, I was totally exhausted and decided to go to bed at about 10:30 pm. No sooner had I laid down I was fast asleep (at least that is what I think happened).

After awhile I was startled by a loud humming sound that was coming from outside. I was curious so I started to get out of bed to investigate when suddenly a bright blue light hit me in the face. I was very warm but soothing. I don't know what happened right after that.

I woke up much later when, in fact, it could not have been more than a few minutes. I laid back down in the bed and went to sleep, like nothing had happened. I still don't know why I didn't alert my parents. I started to hear the loud humming again and started to feel like I was a passenger in an airliner. I opened my eyes, looked around but could only see large high back flight chairs arranged in several rows. I was the only person seated in my row.

I must have went back to sleep because the next thing I remember I was sitting in a large brightly-lit white room that was completely bare except for 5 metal chairs and four other people sitting. These people were not human in my estimation and seemed to be there to monitor me. They were dressed in white smocks and looked human-like but had a few irregularities, for example slightly larger heads, no hair anywhere on the exposed body and a strong antiseptic odor. They didn't talk but you felt like you knew what they were saying when they would look directly at you. After several minutes each of these 'people' got up in unison and walked through a sliding door that quickly disappeared. I was completely alone, just waiting - but I never had any apprehension or fear.

All I remember after that is hearing my Mother screaming.

You see, I had been missing for over 40 hours. My Mother screamed when she discovered me laying on my bed in the hotel room almost two days after I was reported missing.

That is all I remember. I have been to psychiatrists and have been taken regressive hypno-therapy but I can not recall any further details.

I suppose that I was abducted by someone or something. Why else would I be physically missing for almost two days? When I 'reappeared' I had on the same night clothes - nothing was different. I have had no ill effects since.

Could you offer an explanation?

To be honest I had forgotten about this incident. I had never conversed with Melody and had never received any direct contact from her. In July 2011 I received an email from her that included the following statement:

Mr. Strickler - My name is Melody (redacted). I was given your email address from (redacted). I have included a copy of an email I sent to (redacted) several years ago that described an incident I had. I would like to provide an update to you.

Since my first email to (redacted) I have endured a few events that I feel may tie into my abduction. Yes - I am positive at this point that I was actually abducted by unknown beings. It took me a long time to accept that fact. Unfortunately my parents, especially my Mother, never got over the incident. My parents divorced in 2009 and my Mother subsequently took her own life not long after the divorce. I am just starting to face facts and learning to deal with what happened to me.

My recollection of the event is still not totally accessible to me. I have had many hypnosis sessions with several doctors - it's just the same. None of my recall is any different.

A recent occurrence is the reason why I am contacting you at this time. My Husband (we were married this past Spring) mentioned that I occasionally talk in my sleep - to the point where it seems I am having a conversation with someone. A few weeks ago, I was talking in my sleep and my Husband heard 'replies'. These 'replies' were part of the conversation and where coming from another part of the bedroom. He could not see anything unusual but sensed that 'something' was there while carrying on a conversation with me.

There have been bits and pieces of other strange activity over the years but I am quite bowled over by this revelation. Who could I be talking to? I don't usually dream while asleep and I have no memory of conversations. Could I still be in contact with my abductors?

I hope you are well and thank you for reading my email - Melody

NOTE: I replied to Melody and received permission to edit and publish her account and emails. I really could not give her a definitive answer as to what she is experiencing. I offered to help her with any questions in the future, but I have not heard from her since 2011. I would be interested in finding out how she is doing. What are your thoughts? Lon

The Custodians: Beyond Abduction

High Strangeness: Hyperdimensions & The Process Of Alien Abduction

Hair of the Alien: DNA and Other Forensic Evidence of Alien Abductions

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Anguished Man: Painted in Blood


In early 2011, I received a correspondence from a gentleman in the United Kingdom that centered around an odd painting that is aptly titled "The Anguished Man." I was the earliest investigator of the bizarre object at the time:

Hi, I thought this might interest you. My Grandmother had this painting in her attic for twenty five years. She said it was evil. She told us she used to see the dark figure of a man around the house and at night she heard strange noises and crying. She told me the artist committed suicide shortly after finishing it and that he had used his own blood mixed in with the oils. After she died we got the painting, it is currently in our basement. Shortly after we got the painting various members of the family started seeing the dark figure of a man. At night we began hearing noises and just recently we have heard crying and moaning. The painting is still in our house and although I never believed in the supernatural I am now convinced there is something evil about this painting. I am currently awaiting a full paranormal investigation being carried out. Sean Robinson

Click for video - 6/1/2010
My Grandmother had this painting in her attic for twenty five years. She said it was evil. She told us she used to see the dark figure of a man around the house and at night she heard strange noises and crying. She told me the artist committed suicide shortly after finishing it and that he had used his own blood mixed in with the oils. After she died we got the painting, it is currently in our basement. Shortly after we got the painting various members of the family started seeing the dark figure of a man. At night we began hearing noises and just recently we have heard crying and moaning. The painting is still in our house and although I never believed in the supernatural I am now convinced there is something evil about this painting.....

Click for video - 6/18/2010
The noises have been getting worse. We have heard crying coming from the corner of our bedroom. We started seeing the dark figure standing at the bottom of the bed, just apparently staring at us. It seems to be a middle aged man but his features are not very clear. As a former sceptic I'm very curious so I'm moving the painting into our bedroom, previously it's been in a cupboard downstrairs. I'm feeling apprehensive and a little scared....I'll keep updating.


Clcik for video - update 12/19/2010
Things seemed to have settled down so I moved the painting again, now it's started again with a vengeance. The noises are much worse, I'm finding it difficult to get any sleep. I have no explanation for what is happening but I'm convinced it is all related to the painting. I'm going to set up a camera to try and capture some of the activity.....I'll keep you updated.

Click for video - update 1/3/2011
I was recently looking at some photographs that were taken when I was transporting the painting in my car, when I noticed something strange. My two sons were messing about in the back seat when one of them took this photograph of his younger brother. Is this a trick of the light or could this be the spirit that inhabits 'The Anguished Man'?

Click for video - update 2/16/2011
I moved the painting back into the top bedroom. I set the video camera up and recorded for approx. eight hours over three consecutive nights. After spending several hours looking at the footage this is what I found. There were many other sounds recorded but they sounded like they came from outside, these were different. Shortly after moving the painting my wife felt someone stroke her hair in the bathroom and I saw a strange fog like mist at the top of the stairs that vanished as quickly as it came. The painting is now back in the cellar for the time being.

NOTE: I did determine that this painting had an undetermined malevolent energy attached to it...as the result of several remote sessions and correspondence with the owner. The account took on a life of its own as the years progressed. At the time, I considered writing about the incidents related to the painting, but other matters took priority. Lon

Haunted Objects: Stories of Ghosts on Your Shelf

Haunted By The Things You Love

Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles

Evil Haunted Object Story Collection: Haunted Dolls And Other Haunted Objects True Creepy Stories (Bizarre And Unexplained Stories Of Real Hauntings)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel


According to Christian belief, the Holy Grail was the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper...supposedly possessing miraculous powers. Joseph of Arimathea, according to 12th century legend, receives the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Great Britain. Ownership has been attributed to various groups, including the Knights Templar. There are cups claimed to be the Grail in several churches, for instance the Saint Mary of Valencia Cathedral, which contains an artifact, the Holy Chalice, supposedly taken by Saint Peter to Rome in the first century, and then to Huesca in Spain by Saint Lawrence in the 3rd century. Other stories claim that the Grail is buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel or lies deep in the spring at Glastonbury Tor. Still other stories claim that a secret line of hereditary protectors keep the Grail, or that it was hidden by the Templars in Oak Island, Nova Scotia’s famous “Money Pit”.

I believe the Holy Grail was a metaphor associated with the medieval period's fascination with Christian relics. The myths originated in Europe during the Middle Ages and promoted the theological link between Christ's blood and the communion wine. These beliefs culminated into the Holy Crusades...an ideal of reclaiming the Holy Lands and their treasures.

But there lies the mystery. If a Holy Grail does exist, either as a physical object or a metaphoric legend, where would it be?

Rosslyn Chapel, located at the village of Roslin in Midlothian, Scotland, has many mysteries surrounding it. Beyond it's secret association with the Knight's Templar and the Holy Grail, there has been a more recent conundrum (in 2010) involving the discovery of human bones buried in the chapel floor.

ROSSLYN CHAPEL AND THE TEMPLARS

As with many other aspects of this mystery, the importance of Rosslyn Chapel is unclear and seems to have been obfuscated, unfortunately. Its owners, the Sinclairs, claim to be the hereditary patrons of Scottish Freemasonry, to have explored the New World (particularly Nova Scotia and Oak Island) a century before Colombus, and to be connected to the Templars through marriage and descent. Some of this appears to be in doubt, because it's based on the work of Jacobite historian Father Hay, who used documents that were lost in a fire... in any case, we do know William Sinclair did build Rosslyn in the 1400s, it does contain very unusual carvings (particularly people who look like Templars engaging in things that seem like Masonic rituals), and it does incorporate unusual geometry (some say that this geometry replicates the Temple of Solomon). Pierre Plantard seems to have changed his name to "de St-Clair" in order to claim affiliation with the Sinclairs of Scotland.

Journalist Jeff Nisbet personally forwarded the following article:

THE ROSSLYN CHAPEL BONES

In early 2010, workers discovered what were thought to be human remains at Rosslyn Chapel...the world-renowned religious site made famous by The Da Vinci Code. The bones were discovered at the chapel in Midlothian by workers carrying out conservation work.

A spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Police confirmed the discovery, but said it was not being treated as a crime.

The famous building, built in 1446, has long been linked with a role in the history of the Freemasons and the Knights Templar. Most notably, it has also suggested as the burial place of the Holy Grail...the cup used by Christ at The Last Supper or even the resting place of the mummified head of Jesus Christ.

Following the release of Dan Brown’s hit book The Da Vinci Code in 2003, the chapel was thrown into the worldwide spotlight. The work was then made into a film starring Tom Hanks, who filmed at the chapel for some scenes in the film. The Hollywood legend subsequently made a cash donation to the restoration and conservation of the chapel.

The bones, which were found on February 19, have now been removed from the site to be examined by archaeologists to discover their age, type and if they are human or animal. They were discovered under a slab while a new heating system was being installed inside the chapel. There is no record of a burial site in this particular area of the chapel.

Rosslyn Chapel declined to comment on the discovery.


A few years ago, researcher Jeff Nisbet offered the following article for publication in 'Phantoms & Monsters':

By Jeff Nisbet - Photographic pioneer and artist Louis Daguerre’s 1824 painting, The Interior of Rosslyn Chapel, shows two workmen crouching by the base of a pillar, with three Templar Knights nearby. One workman is staring intently at some bones they have found beneath the flagstones.

For a bizarre example of life imitating art, let’s fast-forward 186 years.

On March 1, 2010, Scottish Television reported that workmen at Rosslyn, the chapel made famous by The Da Vinci Code had discovered remains in an area with no recorded burials. The remains, continued the STV report, had been “removed from the site to be examined by archaeologists to discover their age, type and if they are human or animal.”

The local police confirmed the find but said “it was not being treated as a crime.” Rosslyn Chapel declined comment.

Two things aroused my interest.

First, I was sure that even an untrained eye would be able to distinguish between animal and human remains and wondered why the archaeologists could not do the same. Second, I wondered exactly where the remains had been discovered. The idea they might have been found in the spot Daguerre showed in his painting made me chuckle.

It would take me a year to get some answers.

During that time, I searched for news updates. There were none. I also broached the subject with two St. Clair/ Sinclair clan online forums. Since a William St. Clair had built the chapel in the mid-fifteenth century, these groups share an abiding interest in its history. No one knew anything.

Finally, on Feb. 21, I wrote to a Rosslyn Chapel executive. There was no reply.

Someone knew more, but no one was talking.

Two weeks later, however, my inquiries finally bore some fruit—an Email containing four remarkable photos of the excavation, before the remains had been moved.

One showed leg bones that were undoubtedly human, confirming that one of the stated reasons for their removal was, as I suspected, clearly bogus.

Two showed the exact location of the remains, but it was not the area shown in Daguerre’s painting. Instead, they had been found at the threshold of the west door.

The fourth showed a skull, face down, with a ragged-looking wound just a short distance above the foramen magnum, the natural aperture that allows the spinal cord to connect with the brain.

Taking just a small leap of the imagination, what might this tell us?

There’s a long-lived legend that Rosslyn’s master mason, returning from Rome after studying the design of an exquisite pillar in person, found an apprentice had carved the pillar in his absence. Flying into a rage, he slew the apprentice with a blow to the head, a legend that resonates with the eponymous murder of Hiram Abiff, chief architect of Solomon’s Temple, absolutely central to the Freemasonic ritual of the Third Degree.

Could the skull belong to the apprentice? The teeth were in remarkably youthful condition, and the shape of the head wound appeared consistent with the stone-trimming end of a mason’s hammer.

Researchers skeptical of the chapel’s claimed Masonic roots scoff at the legend, protesting that it’s not exclusive to Rosslyn. While there are indeed similar tales told about other ecclesiastical buildings of the day, I’m not so quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As a speculative researcher, and in the absence of the forensic evidence already more than a year in coming, I’m happy to present some speculative thoughts about the Rosslyn bones.

Above the area of discovery are three carved heads. Rosslyn tradition describes the one in the southwest, gazing northeast, as the head of the apprentice; the one in the northwest, gazing southeast, as the head of the master mason; and, on an adjacent wall, the apprentice’s mother, weeping for her son. The chapel’s website describes the master’s gaze as his punishment, forever condemned to look southeast towards the now-famous Apprentice Pillar. Not much of a punishment for murder, certainly.

I have since received, however, another dispatch that suggests a stiffer sentence: There were two skeletons found at Rosslyn, in a single grave. Could one be the master?

That they were found at the threshold of the chapel conjures up a plump scenario of darkly poetic justice.

History records many examples of human remains being buried in the foundations of buildings, and at their thresh­olds, but the reasons are varied. Legend has it that Saint Dunstan ordered his own burial to be under the threshold of Winchester Cathedral as a testament to his humility; Scotland’s St. Columba, by contrast, is said to have buried a man alive at the foundations of a cathedral in order to ensure the building’s structural stability with blood sacrifice; and I will give a third example, later on, where the practice was meant as an insult to the deceased.

Another robust legend that may connect Rosslyn with threshold sacrifice is the widespread belief that the chapel’s ground plan is based on that of Solomon’s Temple, although skeptics point out that Rosslyn’s is identical to that of Glasgow Cathedral, which, except for the enormous difference in scale, is true.

But what if the similarities between Rosslyn and Solomon’s Temple, at least for Freemasons, were meant to be more symbolic than actual and that both skeptics and true believers have been looking at things the wrong way?

In Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry is the following entry: “Over the Sacred Lodge presided Solomon, the greatest of kings, and the wisest of men; Hiram, the great and learned King of Tyre; and Hiram Abiff, the widow’s son, of the tribe of Naphtali. It was held in the bowels of the sacred Mount Moriah, under the part whereon was erected the Holy of Holies. On this mount it was where Abraham confirmed his faith by his readiness to offer up his only son, Isaac. Here it was where David offered that acceptable sacrifice on the threshing-floor of Araunah by which the anger of the Lord was appeased, and the plague stayed from his people. Here it was where the Lord delivered to David, in a dream, the plan of the glorious Temple, afterward erected by our noble Grand Master, King Solomon. And lastly, here it was where he declared he would establish his sacred name and word, which should never pass away—and for these reasons this was justly styled the Sacred Lodge.”

Might not the floor of Rosslyn Chapel be symbolic, then, of a place that predates Solomon’s Temple—the threshing floor of Araunah and a place of great Biblical sacrifice, which in many ways it still is? Claimed as a holy place by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, the rock over which now stands Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock has become, over millennia, a most costly piece of real estate.

Also revered as “The Foundation Stone,” the rock from which the world was made, it was the place where Biblical patriarch Jacob is said to have dreamt of a ladder reaching to Heaven, with angels ascending and descending—which brings us to Scotland’s unique connection with the place. Whether or not the block of stone now safely enshrined in Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s fabled Stone of Destiny, one of its popular monikers is “Jacob’s Pillow.” And then there is the theory that the Scots are, in fact, a “lost tribe of Israel.” When historians, Biblical scholars, and adherents to British Israelism debate that theory, things get noisy.

But let’s return to the Rosslyn bones, continuing to suppose that the remains belong to the jealous master and the slain apprentice. What better place for the apprentice to be buried than beneath the carved head of his grieving mother? And what greater insult to the master than to be condemned, forever, to be trod underfoot by God-fearing Scots?

As it happens, though, the head of the apprentice is also gazing at an exquisitely carved pillar—one attributed to the master’s hands. Curiously, there is evidence that the Master’s Pillar, as it is now known, had been concealed under a plain exterior for over 400 years and had been rediscovered by architect David Bryce during his 1860’s restoration efforts. Might it not have been concealed because it was, after all, the work of an arch sinner? The Scots have historically done much more about a lot less, particularly over matters of morality.

Whether or not there is any truth to the slain apprentice legend, it is the height of coincidence that Rosslyn’s most enduring legend involves the murder of one man by another, by a blow to the head, and that the murder has been memorialized by the carved heads of the murderer and the victim, on the wall above the unmarked grave of two recently discovered bodies, one of which shows indications of having been killed by a blow to the head.

But until the forensic experts release their findings, we must consider the possibility that the bones were put there more recently.

In 1846, during a lecture at London’s Institute of British Architects, antiquary John Britton criticized the lines in Walter Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel that suggest ten Rosslyn barons were buried, in full armor, below the chapel. Also in attendance was William Burn, architect in charge of the chapel’s 1830’s restoration. Burn supported Britton by claiming he had dug trenches up all three of the chapel’s aisles, finding only one vault with a wooden coffin (presumably the vault long known to be accessed under flagstones in the north aisle, towards the rear of the chapel).

Burn makes no mention of having found human remains in the center aisle. But since his work was mainly concerned with the exterior of the chapel, there remains the possibility that Burn lied to support Britton’s skeptical opinions, because the restoration of the chapel was the subject of a heated and ongoing debate. Thirty-four years later, in 1880, architect Andrew Kerr, under the direction of Robert St. Clair-Erskine, the 4th Earl of Rosslyn, added the bap-tistery to the chapel’s west end. If, as I suspect, the recently discovered bones stretched beneath the common threshold of both buildings, then there remains the interesting possibility that the bones were deposited there at that time, to be conveniently “discovered” at a later date. Kerr and the Earl have a well-documented conversa­tion about the Slain Apprentice legend that appears on page 6 of the official Rosslyn Chapel guidebook, and it should be noted that both men were high-ranking Scottish Freemasons. The Earl, in fact, was the fraternity’s 63rd Grand Master.

While this article has been hampered by the lack of more available evidence, further revelations may soon be made public.

At the time of this writing, I have learned that Ashley Cowie, “resident historian” for STV’s The Hour Show, was recently seen at the chapel, shooting a new documentary series titled Legend Quest. Aired in July, the show is described as “an action-adventure series that follows real-life symbologist Ashley Cowie as he travels the world in search of hidden, mystical artifacts. Each episode is designed to combine Indiana Jones-style adventure and Da Vinci Code-type connections as theories are explored.” While that description hints the show will do for archaeology what The Deadliest Warrior has done for the history of military warfare, perhaps Cowie will surprise us. Stranger things, as we will now see, have happened.

Late in my research for this article, I stumbled upon a curious tale connecting the 4th Earl of Rosslyn with yet a third skeleton. This one, though, was the property of his widow.

On March 15, 2002, Sotheby’s auctioned the contents of Ken Paul’s London theatrical-prop company. One paragraph of the Sotheby announcement reads as follows: “The ultimate conversation piece has to be the mystery clock in a full-sized inlaid mahogany coffin, dated c. 1900—complete with real skeleton—used in the opening scenes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The skeleton is rumoured to be the remains of the young Italian lover and secretary of the Countess of Rosslyn. After his death she couldn’t bear to be separated from him, so she immortalized him in the clock and took him everywhere with her!” Acquired by Ken Paul from an unnamed music-hall escape artist, the clock was won by an anonymous bidder for £35,000.

The Countess of Rosslyn at the time of the skeleton clock’s manufacture had been married to the 4th Earl from 1866 until his death in 1890. Her own death, in 1933, would have provided the perfect opportunity for the rest of the family to offload Grandma’s Italian paramour to the escapologist—at an eminently negotiable price, I’m sure.

Interestingly, besides appearing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the clock had most recently been hired to appear in a then-unreleased film about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, which presented the theory that Jack was a Freemason.

But the story of the clock’s connection to the Countess of Rosslyn seemed suspect. I knew of only one Scottish luminary who was intimately involved with an Italian secretary—none other than Mary, Queen of Scots. On March 9, 1566, secretary David Rizzio was stabbed to death in Holyrood Palace for being the queen’s confidant and lover and for being a Catholic. It has also been bandied about that he was the father of Mary’s son, the future king of both Scotland and England.

Although a plaque in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirkyard reads “Tradition says that this is the grave of David Rizzio,” who really knows? Could the countess and the queen have traded places in the telling of the tale over the years? Might not the bones in the clock be the bones of David Rizzio? Moreover, in a macabre concordance with the Rosslyn bones, there is an Edinburgh tradition that Rizzio’s body was first buried at the threshold of Holyrood Abbey as a sign of disrespect.

My speculation that the clock’s skeleton is David Rizzio’s is not that outrageous.

It is well known that the Freemasons have made ritualistic use of skeletal remains. One short sentence in the 1896 minutes of Edinburgh’s Mary’s Chapel Lodge reads that “Brother Hay’s presentation of a skull was accepted with thanks,” and in the 1851 minutes we find an even more bizarre entry: “The Lodge was upon this occasion presented with two Thigh Bones of a Nun by Dr. McCowan.”

Just two years later, in 1853, the 4th Earl of Rosslyn is listed as Deputy Master of the Canongate Killwinning Lodge, still located on Edinburgh’s St. John Street, just a hundred yards or so from Rizzio’s Canongate Kirk grave. That’s 1,750 miles closer than Prescott Bush, President George W’s grandfather, trekked to bring the skull of Geronimo back to Yale University’s most storied secret society, Skull & Bones.

Or could the escapologist have made the whole tale up?

Until the unnamed buyer steps forward and allows the bones to be studied, we can only speculate about the skeleton clock. - from The Rosslyn Bones - Jeff Nisbet

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