Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Saint's Satanist

Gilles de Montmorency-Laval (1404–1440), Baron de Rais, was a Breton knight, a leader in the French army and a companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc. He is best known as a prolific serial killer of children. His name was later connected with the story of Bluebeard.

At an early age Rais distinguished himself militarily, fighting first in the wars of succession to the duchy of Brittany (1420) and then for the duchess of Anjou against the English in 1427. He was assigned to Joan of Arc’s guard and fought several battles at her side, including the relief of Orléans in 1429. He accompanied her to Reims for the consecration of Charles VII, who made him marshal of France. He continued to serve in Joan of Arc’s special guard and was at her side when Paris was attacked. After her capture, he retired to his lands in Brittany.

Rais had inherited extensive domains from both his father and his maternal grandfather (Guy de Laval and Jean de Craon, respectively) and had also married a rich heiress, Catherine de Thouars (1420). He kept a more lavish court than the king, dissipating his wealth on the decoration of his châteaux and the maintenance of a large train of servants, heralds, and priests. He was a munificent patron of music, literature, and pageants, in one of which he figured (The Mystery of Orléans). When his family secured a decree from the king in July 1435, restraining him from selling or mortgaging the rest of his lands, he turned to alchemy. He also developed an interest in Satanism, hoping to gain knowledge, power, and riches by invoking the devil. He was later accused of having abducted, tortured, and murdered more than 140 children.

Rais was arrested in September 1440 and brought to trial in Nantes, first before an ecclesiastical tribunal under the direction of the bishop of Nantes and then before a civil court. At first he refused to plead to the charges, but, when threatened with excommunication, he recognized the court’s authority and declared himself not guilty.

In 1438, according to testimony at his trial from the priest Eustache Blanchet and the cleric François Prelati, de Rais sent out Blanchet to seek individuals who know alchemy and demon summoning. Blanchet contacted Prelati in Florence and convinced him to take service with his master. Having reviewed the magical books of Prelati and a traveling Breton, de Rais chose to initiate experiments, the first being in the lower hall of his castle at Tiffauges, to summon a demon named Barron. de Rais provided a contract with the demon for riches that Prelati was to give to the demon at a later time. As no demon manifested after three tries, the Marshal grew frustrated with the lack of results. Prelati responded the demon summoned, named Barron, was angry and required the offering of parts of a child. de Rais provided these remnants in a glass vessel at a future invocation. All of this was to no avail, and the occult experiments left him bitter and with a severely depleted wealth.

In his confession, Gilles maintained the first assaults on children occurred between spring 1432 and spring 1433. The first murders occurred at Champtocé-sur-Loire; however, no account of these murders survives. Shortly after, Gilles moved to Machecoul where, as the record of his confession states, he killed, or ordered to be killed, a great but uncertain number of children after he sodomized them. Forty bodies were discovered in Machecoul in 1437.

The first documented case of child-snatching and murder concerns a boy of 12 called Jeudon, an apprentice to the furrier Guillaume Hilairet. Gilles de Rais' cousins, Gilles de Sillé and Roger de Briqueville, asked the furrier to lend them the boy to take a message to Machecoul, and, when Jeudon did not return, the two noblemen told the inquiring furrier that they were ignorant of the boy's whereabouts and suggested he had been carried off by thieves at Tiffauges to be made into a page. In Gilles de Rais' trial, the events were testified to by Hillairet and his wife, Jean Jeudon and his wife, and five others from Machecoul.

In his 1971 biography of Gilles de Rais, Jean Benedetti tells how the children who fell into Rais's hands were put to death:

[The boy] was pampered and dressed in better clothes than he had ever known. The evening began with a large meal and heavy drinking, particularly hippocras, which acted as a stimulant. The boy was then taken to an upper room to which only Gilles and his immediate circle were admitted. There he was confronted with the true nature of his situation. The shock thus produced on the boy was an initial source of pleasure for Gilles.

Gilles' bodyservant Étienne Corrillaut, known as Poitou, was an accomplice in many of the crimes and testified that his master hung his victims with ropes from a hook to prevent the child from crying out, then masturbated upon the child's belly or thighs. Taking the victim down, Rais comforted the child and assured him he only wanted to play with him. Gilles then either killed the child himself or had the child killed by his cousin Gilles de Sillé, Poitou or another bodyservant called Henriet. The victims were killed by decapitation, cutting of their throats, dismemberment, or breaking of their necks with a stick. A short, thick, double-edged sword called a braquemard was kept at hand for the murders. Poitou further testified that Rais sometimes abused the victims (whether boys or girls) before wounding them and at other times after the victim had been slashed in the throat or decapitated. According to Poitou, Rais disdained the victim's sexual organs, and took "infinitely more pleasure in debauching himself in this manner ... than in using their natural orifice, in the normal manner."

In his own confession, Gilles testified that “when the said children were dead, he kissed them and those who had the most handsome limbs and heads he held up to admire them, and had their bodies cruelly cut open and took delight at the sight of their inner organs; and very often when the children were dying he sat on their stomachs and took pleasure in seeing them die and laughed”.

Poitou testified that he and Henriet burned the bodies in the fireplace in Gilles' room. The clothes of the victim were placed into the fire piece by piece so they burned slowly and the smell was minimized. The ashes were then thrown into the cesspit, the moat, or other hiding places.

On 15 May 1440, Rais kidnapped a cleric during a dispute at the Church of Saint-Étienne-de-Mer-Morte. The act prompted an investigation by the Bishop of Nantes, during which evidence of Gilles' crimes was uncovered. On July 29, the Bishop released his findings, and subsequently obtained the prosecutorial cooperation of Rais's former protector, Jean V, the Duke of Brittany. Rais and his bodyservants Poitou and Henriet were arrested on 15 September 1440 following a secular investigation which paralleled the findings of the investigation from the Bishop of Nantes. Rais's prosecution would likewise be conducted by both secular and ecclesiastical courts, on charges which included murder, sodomy, and heresy.

The extensive witness testimony convinced the judges that there were adequate grounds for establishing the guilt of the accused. After Rais admitted to the charges on 21 October, the court canceled a plan to torture him into confessing. Peasants of the neighboring villages had earlier begun to offer up accusations that since their children had entered Gilles' castle begging for food they had never been seen again. The transcript, which included testimony from the parents of many of these missing children as well as graphic descriptions of the murders provided by Gilles' accomplices, was said to be so lurid that the judges ordered the worst portions to be stricken from the record.

The precise number of Gilles' victims is not known, as most of the bodies were burned or buried. The number of murders is generally placed between 80 and 200; a few have conjectured numbers upwards of 600. The victims ranged in age from six to eighteen and included both sexes.

On 23 October 1440, the secular court heard the confessions of Poitou and Henriet and condemned them both to death followed by Gilles' death sentence on 25 October. Gilles was allowed to make confession and his request to be buried in the church of the monastery of Notre-Dame des Carmes in Nantes was granted.

Execution by hanging and burning was set for Wednesday 26 October. At nine o‘clock, Gilles and his two accomplices made their way in procession to the place of execution on the Ile de Biesse. There, Gilles addressed the throng of onlookers with contrite piety, and exhorted Henriet and Poitou to die bravely and think only of salvation. Gilles' request to be the first to die had been granted the day before. At eleven o'clock the brush at the platform was set afire and Rais was hanged on a gibbet above a pyre, but when the fire burned through the rope the body was snatched from the flames by several ladies of his family, who prepared it for burial with their own hands, and it was then interred in the Carmelite church close by. His two associates were also hanged, their bodies being burned and the ashes scattered.

On the spot where Gilles was executed his daughter erected a monument, to which came all nursing mothers to pray for an abundance of milk. Here again is a strong suggestion that he was regarded as the Incarnate God of fertility. Another suggestive fact is the length of time - nine years - which elapsed between the death of Joan and the death of Gilles. This is a usual interval when the Incarnate God is given a time-limit.

NOTE: In the title Blood Red, Sister Rose, Thomas Keneally's fictional account of Gilles' and Joan's special relationship, some suggest that there is more truth than speculation. By all historical accounts the bond between Gilles and Joan was a very close one. She obtained permission from the King to choose whom she would for her escort; her choice at once fell on Gilles, for she would naturally prefer those of her own faith. He held already a high command in the relieving, force, and added the protection of Joan as a special part of his duties. Later on, even after he had reached the high position of Marshal of France, he still continued those duties, remaining with her all day when she was wounded at the assault on Paris. For more information on the relationship may I suggest you read The Saint and the Devil;: A biographical study of Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais There is also a very good reference at Monster or Victim? ...Lon

The Trial of Gilles de Rais
The Black Baron: The Strange Life of Gilles De Rais
Satanic Alchemy: Atrocities Of Gilles de Rais
Real Bluebeard

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Confrontation With An Abomination

The following narrative was forwarded to me several years ago by a reader from the small nation of Brunei:

A much-loved sport amongst fervent fans and football enthusiasts, this game has beckoned millions to its allegiance, dominating the world of sports on a global scale and in some cases apparently, captivating even the scariest of sorts. In this story, a group of friends journeyed back in time to relay their appalling tale, which they claim, occurred during a friendly match with fellow schoolmates at a random field in the district during the 1990s.

En route to their destination, the group cycled pass a row of wooden houses and shops before reaching a wide stretch of road leading to the open field. Although the sun radiated its golden rays over the turf, a disturbing presence loomed in the dark shadows of the forests and seemed to drape the surroundings in a menacing façade. Wilted leaves cloaked the paved walkway as a decrepit rest house stood beside the precipice landscape. This didn’t bother the youngsters at all as they geared-up to begin their much-awaited football match.

It started off as an exciting first-half but 15 minutes into the next round, the goal keeper kept a wary glaze at the nearby electrical poles. The curious lot stared blankly at their only source of defence against a possible goal and threw the ball in his direction. “Azim, what are you staring at? Focus on the game otherwise we’ll have to ‘belanja’ the other team if we lose!” Nazri said. The goalie simply nodded and laughed at the mild teasing but an evident fear loomed in his eyes.

As the game intensified, Daud, another player, skillfully maneuvered the ball in an attempt to strike for goal but before he could hit home, the striker dropped to his knees and twinge in pain. The others rushed to his aid and offered to escort him to the hospital but instead, Daud refused and opt to watch the game despite the untimely injury. While cheering on from the sidelines, he was taken aback by what seemed to be a piece of linen cloth dangling from one end of the electrical poles but dismissed it as nothing out of the ordinary. He occasionally diverted his attention back to the poles and was surprised to find that the ‘linen’ had shifted to another area. Only this time, it resembled a formidable ‘apparition’. His heart skipped a beat as he quickly glanced at the leaden sky. Darkness engulfed the skies as the sun took its leave over the horizon, radiating the last strokes of light, which resembled orange smears in the dusk, indicating that night was fast approaching. “It’s just my imagination. Must be the pain from my ankle,” Daud thought silently to himself and snubbed the idea of informing his friends about the strange sighting.

Both teams refused to surrender to defeat and before long, night had fallen. “Just one goal!” Razak playfully said as they jubilantly tried to win the match. Then, a striker from the opposing team attempted to make his mark but inexplicably smashed his volley into the nearby forest. The players stole quick glances at one another, indicating their refusal to retrieve the ball from the creepy terrain. One of their teammates, Ali, eventually volunteered to recover the object and immediately emerged from the woods after a few short seconds. “That was fast. So excited to win the game?” Nazri teased but his happy-go-lucky friend remained silent, a solemn look darkened his expression. The others simply shrugged off Ali’s ’sulky’ mood and thought the poor guy was fuming over recovering the ball earlier on.

As the match continued, Razak reinforced their attacking options and crossed for Ali to clip home the first goal but his teammate stood unresponsive to his gestures. Rage overwhelmed the defiant defender as he marched across the field to give Ali a piece of his mind. “If you’re angry over a small matter, don’t play. You’re just standing there like a statue! And why in the world do you reek of dead rats?” Razak shouted while covering his noise. Again, ‘Ali’ maintained his ‘poker face’. While the outburst transpired, Nazri tapped the furious defender on the shoulders and pointed towards the direction of the woods. Before them, their blithe comrade emerged from the dark shadows and ran hastily towards the others.

“Sorry guys. Took a while for me to find the ball,” Ali said nonchalantly. The players exchanged bewildered looks amongst themselves as their eyes searched the grounds for the ‘mysterious’ doppelganger and remained practically speechless at the bizarre ordeal. “Why are you looking at me like that?” Ali said, his eyebrows frowning at the uncanny glances around him. Daud limped towards the disorientated lot and disclosed the mysterious sighting he had spotted earlier on. Azim confirmed the bizarre incident for he too, caught a glimpse of the ‘entity’. “We had better leave. This isn’t a good sign,” Razak said. As they gathered their belongings, a ball ricocheted against the goal post and into the field. It moved bafflingly across the turf on its own and suddenly came to an abrupt stop.

Out of the blue, it struck Razak on the face with a sturdy force as blood started oozing out from his nose. Fear paralysed the entire team instantaneously and they scurried from the premises, leaving behind all their belongings. The perplexed lot stared in amazement at Daud’s sudden vigor and agility for he zoomed past the rest despite his so-called ‘injury’. “I never ran so fast in my life. All I felt was numbness but was more concerned about the impending terror behind us,” Daud joked.

The scampering crowd came to a sudden stop as a ghostly apparition emerged from the forest and glided towards the players while clasping a child’s bloody hands in the other. They vaguely caught sight of its distorted face and some managed to make a run for it but the others panicked and remained solidly still. As it released a petrifying laugh, the entity moved towards Razak and stared at him intently with its blood-shot eyes.

The others summoned their inner strength and began reciting prayers to ward off the spirit. It took on a defensive stance and attempted to shatter their fortitude by disrupting the group’s unified chants. Its ear-piercing snarl sounded like a pack of wolves howling in the night but they kept their grit together till the ’spirit’ disappeared into thin air. The terrified lot nervously retreated to the exit, reciting prayers each step of the way.

After a good five minutes, the group sighed in relief as they reached the junction to the main road. A deafening silence fell upon them as they ruminated over the uncanny state of affairs that ensued earlier. Their nightmare was however, far from over. That night, the foreboding shadows crept into their homes fueling a lurid episode of bizarre occurrences.

The group was plagued by a series of poignant haunting as three of them came down with mysterious illnesses that triggered anomalous hallucinations and paranoia for months while the others experienced encounters out of the norm.

Days after the dreadful field experience, Razak claims that his parents saw a ghostly apparition prying through his bedroom window. They initially perceived that it was a woman and child, who probably required help but as ‘it’ turned around to confirm their suspicions, the couple remained silent and intuitively knew what it was. A creaking sound then echoed near the gallery as they hurried towards the door to tentatively secure the bolt. “They don’t need the door dear. They can simply go through any wall,” Razak’s father implied as his wife gestured for him to hush down. Peering through the corners of the shutters, his mother caught sight of a ‘poltergeist’ commonly know as ‘hantu pochong’ to the locals, but soon vanished into the shadows.

The phenomenal encounters, seemingly plucked from the scenes of a horror film, continue to remain a mystery. In Azim’s case, several ‘visits’ scared the wits out of him as he struggled to fight his fears. “One night, a loud banging erupted on the front door. My parents thought it was a late visitor but after peeking through the window, they caught sight of a paranormal entity gliding from corner of the house to the other,” he said frightfully.

The daunting episodes didn’t stop there. At the stroke of three in the morning, he could perceive the sounds of loud footsteps, which then faded along the dark corridors. This was followed by strident thuds on the roof, which sounded like giant fingers drumming from above.

Now in their mid twenties, the group of friends evidently illustrated their hidden fears as they reminisced over the events of that fateful year. “It’s been more than ten years but the events remain freshly imprinted in my mind,” Razak said.

The notorious field, known for its lurid ghost stories, has undergone major transformations throughout the years and a building now stands in its place. The colourful blossoms and green pastures have supplanted the once-gloomy surroundings. Behind the building, the great forest loomed high above the grounds and concealed its sinister facade.

“We probably stepped into forbidden grounds or accidentally offended the malevolent spirits. Whatever the case, this is something no one should experience,” Nazri said before concluding their tales.

Malaysian Ghost Stories

A Ghost a Day: 365 True Tales of the Spectral, Supernatural, andJust Plain Scary!

Asian Horror (Kamera Books)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Client Testimonials & Our Goal

Read my client testimonials - Client Testimonials.

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Astral Perceptions Universal is committed to maintaining the highest degree of integrity, both in terms of confidentiality and the protection of all personal information received in the course of providing our services. We are not associated with any traditional organized religion or sect affiliation, though we do observe spiritual philosophies and, on occasion, use theological references.

Astral Perceptions Universal conducts all of our activities professionally and with integrity. We take great care to be completely objective in our judgment and any recommendations that we give, so that issues are never influenced by anything other than the best and proper interests of our clients. We are never influenced in our decisions, actions or recommendations by issues of gender, race, creed, age or personal disability.

If you truly feel that Astral Perceptions Universal can help you, then take that first step and contact me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Benevolent Spirits, Guardian Angels

I think most of us are familiar with the concept of the guardian angel, who stays with you throughout your life on earth, guiding you and shielding you from danger and harm.

Some mediums believe most of us have spirit guides, known as “Doorkeepers”, that stay with an individual from a time prior to birth right through to the afterlife and beyond.

Whether that is true I cannot say, but over the years I have collected many accounts of a mysterious benevolent force preventing death and injury in the lives of people, and here are just a couple of these intriguing cases.

At 6.30pm one dark autumnal evening, in October, 1973, a 19-year-old Kirkby woman named Sylvia went to help her husband, Ken, who was serving in a mobile shop.

Sylvia was 5½ months pregnant, and as she made her way to the shop on wheels, she had to walk over an expanse of treacherous waste ground which was still slippery from a recent heavy downpour.

Sylvia slipped, and both of her feet came off the ground as she tumbled backwards, but the young pregnant woman never landed on her back because something “caught her” in mid-air and gently lowered her down to the ground, and that unseen something felt like a giant pair of hands.

Sylvia was sure that, if those invisible hands had not saved her, she would probably have fallen heavily and miscarried.
In 1965, an unearthly mimic saved the life of a girl on Cornett Road, off Longmoor Lane, Aintree. A 14-year-old named Mary attended Sherwood Lane Girls’ Secondary Modern School, and after the 4 o’clock bell had rung, Mary would go to Hartley’s newsagents for a bag of sweets before going home.

Mary’s beauty soon caught the eye of a 15-year-old boy named Sam Miller, of Inglis Road.

He started following Mary, and became hopelessly besotted by her to such an extent, he would often stand opposite the girl’s home on Cornett Road of an evening and gaze up at Mary’s window, hoping to catch a glimpse of her silhouette on the lemon-coloured curtains.

Three days into this stalking behavior, infatuated Sam saw something that froze his blood. Just before 9pm, he saw Mary’s silhouette come into view on the curtains.

The girl seemed to be standing on a chair for a few moments – then she dropped slightly and hung there, plainly suspended by a rope or cord.

She swung sideways, and Sam ran across the road and hammered on Mary’s door until her bald bullet-headed father answered.

‘Mary’s hanged herself!’ Sam shrieked, and the girl’s father was understandably taken aback by this remark. ‘Where?’ he asked. ‘Up in her room!’ a tearful Sam told him.

Mary’s father looked down at the teenager with a puzzled expression.

‘She isn’t in her room, lad. Why, here she is now!’ he said, and looked down the road.

There was Mary walking towards her house. Sam backed away from the furious man and ran off, feeling confused and a fool.

Three days later, Mary was found red-handed in her bedroom, trying to make a noose from a length of washing line.

She intended to end it all, for she was being bullied by a gang of local girls.

Her father had seen his daughter go upstairs with the washing line, and, recalling the chilling claim of Sam Miller earlier that week, he became suspicious and followed Mary up to her room.

She’d been saved by the eerie premonition that her admirer had seen three nights before.

Mary and Sam dated for three years and later married.