Saturday, November 7, 2015

The John Quincy Adams Young House

I was told recently of a spot in Cedar Mills, Beaverton, Oregon, where behind a historic house and an ancient walnut tree, there was a nice wooden walk-way overlooking a waterfall. Naturally, being the sort of person I am, I was just as excited about the prospect of seeing inside an old museum house, as I was about the waterfall.

But it's not. There's an idea that the could be a interpretive center, but right now, the little white salt-box style house is completely boarded up; every door, the big windows downstairs, the little windows upstairs. I walked around the house, originally built in 1869, you just don't find stone, brick, and wood meshed quite like this. It's nicely painted on the outside, but I have a feeling the inside needs a lot of work.

(The John Quincy Adams Young house as it appeared in 1903, and as it appeared in 2009-Current. Images from

There's buildings like this one all over the country, neglected places of historic significance. For those of us that are paranormal investigators and enthusiasts, we often relish the opportunity to visit old buildings, reputedly haunted or not, because after all, most ghost reports involve seeing intangible people from another era. That being the case, we should probably do what we can to preserve these places as well. 

For more info on the John Quincy Adams Young House, visit:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Reviews V: Spell Bound + Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist

A couple more book reviews today. First up Spell Bound by Dominic Alexander (Readers Digest, 2002). For those of you keeping track, I'll give this another 4 star rating, the stars mean nothing.

*(As per usual I'm not being paid or compensated, I just hang out in the library and read a lot of stuff.)

I kind of see this like the text book of the History of witchcraft. There's a lot of general information coming at you quickly, and it's really easy to read. It's good if you've got a short attention span, but it's definitely not a book for younger readers due to nudity in graphics.

There's the usual textbook issues of confusing or waffling on minor facts, exclusion of information that may have been helpful (there's a few places I was wanting for dates, and I am not really one to give much notice to time), and breaking of pages at odd times for inserts of information that could have come at the end of the section.

The author also appeared to have a hard time choosing between Demon and Daemon. Both worked for his purposes, but using them interchangeably was a little bit distracting.

However, there's still a lot of good information, and bit of clever writing, “Even the dark side of the human imagination demonstrates our unity.” It's a good read especially if you're interested in who or what Benandanti, Milcuhexe, Strix, Hail Pots, Caliburn, and Robin Good-Fellow are.

My final gripe however is near the end of the book, things get a little boring, and the author suggests witchcraft is coming back into vogue. No. I was alive in 2002, and I knew only a single witch at the time. It was far less trendy then it had been in the 80s and 90s.

Next up we have Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist by Robert Damon Schneck (Tarcher, 2014). I'm feeling generous, so 5 stars here, and all my readers can have a star as well (heck, I'll even make good on that, message me about it and I will draw you a one of a kind star).

*(Again I've not been paid or compensated, but read a library copy of this book. Not that I would say no to people sending me money, but the fact is this review is unbiased by payment.)

This book is a great romp through history and all sorts of subjects, most of which have a paranormal aspect, and those that don't are at least odd. Topics covered include Ouija Boards, Stigmata, Treasure Hunting, and Wildmen.

Of course I can't get through a book without finding an error. There was footnote or two missing. Simply there was no note with that number. There was also a page where the word 'then' was there with nothing attached to it. I stared at it for a while, but I was soon back into the book.

The book enjoys some humorous moments, and occasionally goes off on tangents, which I found fascinating, so they were nothing to complain about in my eyes, because it always circled back to the subject at hand. Heck, sometimes they were more interesting then the subject at hand. Though I'd have liked to have a follow up on what Billy Graham has to do with satanic abuse, because apparently that was some sort of a thing, and no one ever mentioned it around these parts (where would I be without the internet).

I'm still left with some questions, but most of them are likely questions the author still has himself, because it's just not possible to know everything (no matter how hard I try).
*I think I'm going to go to bed now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Witch's Familiar or Familiar’s witch?

Here's something that's changed a lot in modern times; the mythos of witches (not to be confused with modern witches, whose practices are completely different from the practices that historical 'witches' were accused of, or with the folk-magic that many people used at the time).

Nowadays the popular image of a witch is a woman dressed in black (either old and ugly, or young and promiscuous), with a demon possessed black cat which does her bidding (usually at the cost of her soul upon death. . . or basically no cost at all). Often they use their magic to pursue love, riches, or power. 

But wait, according to historical records, that is not what people believed during the infamous European witch trials! Though around 75% of witch trial victims were female, anyone was likely to be accused; but in a male dominated society controlled rich men and clerics, it was easier for women to be the scapegoats.

One of the biggest differences between the modern view of such witches is that of the familiar. The familiar in literature (such as the Hammer of the Witches) and popular imagination was a demon, or Satan himself, which generally approached the witch and tricked or forced them into his service. Such demons may appear as a cat, but often also a dog, a toad, a hare, or pretty much any animal commonly found in the area. 

The familiar often offered love, riches, or power, but these things never turned out to be real. The familiar of the past was not satisfied with taking orders either, and commonly those accused of being witches 'confessed' that the demon would punish them when they failed to bring harm to others, or failed to select people for their familiar to attack.

The witch wasn't necessarily irredeemable either, especially in early trials when they might be given a chance to prove themselves to no longer be practicing witchcraft and loyal to the church once more. Other times, the act of execution was even considered to redeem their souls.

Resources and Further Reading:

Alexander, Dominic. Spell Bound. Readers Digest, 2002.

Briggs, Robin. Witches and Neighbours. Penguin Books, 1996.

Familiar spirit”
Wikipedia, (last modified 2015, 8, 18)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Reviews IV: Ghost Hunters

It's time for another installment of Book Reviews, this time I'm reviewing Ghost Hunters by Deborah Blum.
*(As usual, I'm not affiliated with Blum, publishers, or any other entity involved with this book. I picked it up at a library, and am not being compensated in any way.)

Prior to fact checking, I decided this book was a 5 out of 5 stars. Turns out there are few instances of historical inaccuracy, but given the sheer volume of information covered, I would consider that forgivable, but it might also make the book a 4 to 4 1/2 stars, for those of you that care.

Now, right of the bat I'll admit this book probably isn't for everyone. The quick pace and switching of subjects (backwards, forwards, and sideways), could be confusing, and the historical focus of the book has to be something you're interested in going into this. It's not a list of fact and results, but rather a historic narrative of what several men and women dedicated to proving the existence of the paranormal did and endured. People like Nora Sidgwick, Fred Myers, and William James. Though their names may not be as familiar to the reader as those of the mediums they investigated; people like the Foxx Sisters, D. D. Homes, Lenora Piper, and Reverend May Pepper.

Events of the era are mention as well, providing readers with a frame of reference for the researcher's lives, and occasionally educating the reader. Everything from war and social change, to the theory of evolution and the naming of argon.

That said, spoilers. Sometimes this book has more detail then you might want, and there are a few spoilers, like the entire plot of The Turn of the Screw, which may be irritating for those who've yet to read the work.

If you're will to overlook that, the book is full of beautiful and interesting quotes from all sorts of sources, like Mark Twain explaining why he believes in telepathy;
“We are always mentioning people, and in that very instant they appear before us. We laugh and say, 'speak of the devil' and so forth and there we drop it. It is a cheap and convenient way of disposing of a grave and puzzling mystery. The fact is it does seem to happen too often to be an accident.”

Or Edison's conflicting takes on life after death;
“No, all this talk of an existence for us, as individuals, beyond the grave is wrong. It is born of our tenacity of life - our desire to go on living - our dread of coming to an end as individuals. I do not dread it though. Personally I cannot see any use of a future life.”

“We do not understand; we cannot understand. We are too finite to understand. The really big things, we cannot grasp as yet.”

And Hyslop lamenting the social impact of their research;
“Why is it so noble and respectable to find whence man came, and so suspicious and dishonorable to ask and ascertain whither he goes?”

This book also brings up some interesting questions. Like why do ghost wear clothes? The clothes didn't die, why should there be ghosts of them? You might like the answer some of the researchers theorized, then again, you might not.

Overall, it's kind of like the fictional series 'Proof', researchers looking into life after death and psychics, but they still had daily lives. It's a good dose of history, and highly interesting to read, but still the acceptance or rejection of life after death, seems to be up to the individual.

It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it, but all belief is for it.”
- James Boswell (The Life of Samuel Johnson, 1971)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Book Reviews III: Seeking Spirits

As many of you may know Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are the founders of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), but they also wrote Seeking Spirits (Pocket Books, 2009), along with Michael Jan Friedman.

(Note: I am not affiliated with Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, Michael Jan Friedman, TAPS, Ghost Hunters, or Pocket Books. Seriously, I don't think I even have a TAPS forum membership, though I'm now wondering why I don't, I've certainly have come up with some questions I'd like to ask the good folks there. I might go sign-up after this. Anyways, this review is the result of reading the book via a local[ish] library, and I am not being commissioned or compensated in any way. I just like to read.)

This is my third book review, and the third time I feel the book deserves 4 out of 5 stars. This could have something to do with me still working on actually reading books I suspect I won't rate as high (though one of my current books might rate higher). Anyways, onto the review!

This book is another good casual read. The language was kept simple, and it was well edited (I only noticed a single typo). There's not a lot of evidence, public locations, or technical information provided (though there are some ghost hunting tips and explanations at the end of many chapters), but rather a series of mostly private resident cases, presented in an easily accessible story format. The chapters alternate between being told by Jason and Grant, and read slightly differently.

The book takes on a catering to Christian audiences feel at times, despite the reference to Reiki and the suggestion that the type of brief doesn't matter in blessing/exorcisms, as much as just having a someone do an blessing/exorcism. I always find this religion blind views of dealing with the dead interesting, in so much as what does it actually mean for the dead? Why would they respect a multitude of priest/practitioners, with opposing beliefs?

Back to the tips and explanations, they were a nice touch, and a good place for amateur ghost hunters to take notes, though a lot of it is opinion or common sense. There's a few loosely related pictures thrown into the middle of the book as well, but none of them are particularly convincing, or well explained. They could really have benefited from the authors having spent a few more minutes on captions.

One of the most interesting things in this book, is that they expand on the debunking side of ghost hunting. While almost every episode of the show features some sort of paranormal activity, reality is that in 80% of cases (at least when they're doing house calls), they don't find anything paranormal. The actual causes for such cases can be anything from rodent infestations and loose pipes to menopause and dementia.

There's also a good variety of explanations for the cases where they do find activity, not all paranormal events are caused by ghosts and demons. . . I found their interpretation of döppelgangers as soulless particularly interesting, so I will be attempting to find out more about their opinions on döppelgangers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Water Cryptids I - Lake, River, & Swamp Cryptid Guide

There's probably enough proposed water Cryptids, reports, studies, and theories to write several books. And maybe I will write a book at some point, but for the purposes of making a online guide similar to my Unicorn and Zombie guides, I've decided to break them down into the following 3 categories; Lake/River/Swamp, Sea/Ocean/Bay, and Miscellaneous.

Probably the most familiar water Cryptids in modern times, are those living in rivers and lakes. Pretty much everyone has heard of the Loch Ness Monster, and many know of the monsters of Lake Champlain and Okanagan Lake, but there are so many more then that. I shared previously a link to the Global Lake Monster Database, which gathers reports of reptilian lake monsters alone (it's down below in the resources for this post as well, if you haven't checked it out), and that's only a fraction of lake and river Cryptid reports.

So now, let's examine the types of river and lake Cryptids that people have been reporting all over the world. We'll go ahead and start with the reptilian monsters.

Possible Fossil Remnants & Dragons:

Several lake monsters resemble creatures otherwise thought to be extinct. Probably the most famous example of these sorts of monsters is Nessie of Loch Ness in Scotland, whom many now believe to be a Plesiosaur, an extinct marine reptile with a long neck. The general theory is that such creatures became trapped in lakes as the sea level dropped, but managed to survive on the lake fish. But this image of Nessie however didn’t develop until 1933, well after Plesiosaur fossils were identified. Previously, Nessie was commonly viewed as a Kelpie, Demon, or even a Giant Newt.

Champ, the Monster of Lake Champlain is also believed by some to be a Plesiosaur. The most common reports of these creatures feature it's head and neck rising out of the water, sometimes accompanied by humps believed to be their back and tail.

The Lake Murray Beast (South Carolina), which pushes boats and appears as a shadow on the surface of the lake, is believed by many to be a Ichthyosaur, another extinct marine reptile. Unlike the proposed Pleisiosaurs, this monster's most commonly seen feature is it's back, as it has a very fish-like shape. Of course, being fish-like, a modern fish, the Sturgeon, has also been used to explain the monster sightings.

Giant Serpents
Some monsters, like the Flathead Lake Monster resemble the giant serpents that used to inhabit the earth, such as Titanoboa. Witnesses clearly describe the creature as a serpentine line or tube like arches breeching the water.

Other are hard to identify, such as the Bear Lake Beast, which is said to come ashore at night. It shares this distinction with several dinosaur-like lake and river monsters, such as the Congo’s Mokèlé-mbèmbé. Almost all known descriptions of Mokèlé-mbèmbé highly resemble a Sauropod Dinosaur. These descriptions may have evolved from a now dismissed theory, that sauropods needed to spend a great deal of time in the water to support their girth.

Though some details often resemble know dinosaur species, many lake monsters have been proposed to be dragons by witnesses, and often have key anatomical differences from dinosaurs, such and hair and mismatched body parts. The monster of Lake Pohenegamook for example is said to be an iguana-like dragon, with a cow like head.

Mamlambo, the brain-sucking monster of the Mzintlava River in South Africa could also fall into this category. It's said to be snake or fish like with a horse-like head, and have the power to summon storms.

Native American legends tell of Water Dragons. In some tales they fought with beasts of land and air, in others they terrorized humans. One such tale tells of Amhuluk (of Forked Mountain Lake in Oregon), who had horns, four legs, and a serpent like body, and has been said to impale children with his horns and drown whoever it could (there have been no sightings of Amhuluk since 1890).

In the legends of China, Japan, and Korea, Dragons are often linked with with water, and said to live in the river and seas. Similarly the Chinese version of the unicorn, the Ch’I Lin is believed to reside in rivers, only to emerge when the greatest emperor takes the throne. In Australia, the chimeric Rainbow Serpent(s) is said to live at the base of waterfalls.

Merpeople & other Humanoids:

While more often only legendary in modern times, mermaid-like creatures make up a significant portion of water cryptids.

The Greek Naiads (a type of Nymph), are said to protect the bodies of water they inhabit, being the freshwater guardians, and therefore protecting rivers, lakes, and springs.

In Australia the Yawkyawk, fishtailed women with seaweed for hair, descended from the Rainbow Serpent(s), are said to live in waterholes (oddly approaching their homes is said to make human women pregnant). Yawkyawk have been said to occasionally take human form marry human men, but like the Silkies of Northern European folklore (to be discussed in the next installment), they will eventually leave their husbands and return to the water.

Another aquatic species of cryptid said to take human form are the Enchanto of the Amazon River, who spend most of their time as dolphins, but leave the river to seek human mates.

Semi-aquatic Ape Men
Several tales also exist of Bigfoot-like creatures roaming the rivers and swamps of North America, such as the Big Muddy Monster (so named for living in the Big Muddy River), that differs from Bigfoot in a few key respects; it smells worse, has glowing eyes, and prefers to travel via the river.

Sometimes these creatures have webbed hands and feet, as in the case of Flix, the hairy white humanoid rumored to live in Conser Lake in Oregon. He is said to have telepathically told a psychic his name and, that “There are many like me. . .”

Kappa & similar creatures
Well known water demon in Japan are the Kappa, humanoid turtle-like creatures that can only survive on land by storing water in a hollow on top their head. Kappa behavior towards humans generally includes pranks, drowning, and molestation, but a few tales of friendly Kappa exist as well.

In the USA, a creature described with similar tendencies, is the Green Clawed Monster of the Ohio River. It is a hairy amphibious humanoid, with large claws, that grabs swimmers; scratching and bruising them in an attempt to drag them under.

Similar European Cryptids, include the Grindylow, small green humanoids that will drown children, and water hags like Jenny Greenteeth and Peg Powler who also drown children, as well as the elderly.

Salvic mythology tells of the Vodyanoy, a race of frog-men that breaks dams, and (you guessed it) drowns swimmers.

Water Babies and Changelings
In both Native American and European tales, we find references to creatures that appear human, but are monstrous in nature, with links to the water. The European Changelings are the result of fairies or trolls (who may sometimes live in lakes and swamps, and usually do in Changeling stories) exchanging human children for their own offspring (or elders), wood, or toads. These tales were clearly intend to explain unfortunate incidents of infant fatalities, and missing children. As for the Native American's Water Babies, though they looked like human babies or little people, are said to live in the river, and sneak ashore to kill humans in their sleep. Tales of this cryptid appear to serve a similar purpose to the Changelings, explaining how the elderly and ill may die in their sleep.

Spirits: Ghosts, Demons, & Deities:

Another, possibly more concerning category of Lake and River Cryptids is that of Ghosts and Demons. While some of these entities are entirely good, many are said to drag swimmers under the water or abduct children.

In Mexico there exist several variations of the story of La Llorona, a female spirit that drowns or spirits away children. Usually it attributed to the fact that she drowned her own children before killing herself, and is not permitted to enter heaven until she has found them. From an anthropological standpoint, this is very clearly a cautionary tale meant to keep children away from the water at night.

A similar tale exists in Pennsylvania, of a young unwed Amish woman who jumped off a bridge with her infant son. It is said if one places their keys on the hood and walks around their car taunting, “cry baby”, anything from the keys moving to her killing members of the group could happen.

Another lake ghost of note is the Bride of Whiterock Lake, a distressed woman in a wedding dress who appears to people around the lake. She is not known to be harmful, but is believed to be unable to move on due to her murder.

Late painter Tom Thompson is said to be seen canoeing across Canoe Lake, where he died under suspicious circumstances. His body was found bound, with an oar mark on the head. The suspicious tale doesn't end there either, a man claiming to represent his family exhumed the body, and took it away.

Lake Ronkonkoma is said to be home to a particularly nasty ghost, a Native American princess who swore to drown a man every year, before drowning in the lake herself. It is interesting to note, that far more men have drown in the lake then women.

The Great Dismal Swamp is said to be home to a whole host of ghosts; a Native American brave and his fiance, a fisherman and his wife (who went looking for him in her wedding dress), and French pirates.

Irish folklore tells of Banshees, female ghosts, often ones who died of blood loss during childbirth, and become vengeful spirits, sometimes seen washing their clothes in the river. Appearances of Banshees are often said to preceded one's death, or the death of a loved one. It is dreadfully bad luck to hear a banshee’s cries, though stories vary on whether it's the first or third cry that signal's your demise.

The Louisiana Swamp Woman may be something of the American version of a Banshee, being known to scream and wail, in an attempt to lure people into the swamp so that they’ll drown. 

Hinkypunk engage in similar behavior to the Swamp Woman, luring people into swamplands by means of faint lantern-like lights, in an attempt to cause them to drown. A few tales recount dark figures holding the lanterns, and vocalizations such as kisses, laughs, and whispers.

Tales of similar phenomenon occur all over the world, under many different names, such as Will-o-Wisps, Hitodama, and Brujas. You may enjoy my earlier post on the subject:

Water horses
Tales of water Demons are just as plentiful as Ghosts. The Kelpie, is a shape shifting demon who is said to appear in alluring forms, such as that of a beautiful horse, in order to get people to come with it into the water. When the rider mounts the Kelpie horse, it charges into the water, drowns them, and possibly eats them.

Worse yet, is the Each Uisge, the Kelpie's more violent cousin, which prefers salt water, but is sometimes said to be found in fresh water lakes. It is said to tear multiple victims apart in a single attack, eating everything but their livers.

And Aboriginal tales describe a chimerical monster that eats people who venture too close to the water in which it lives, the Bunyip. Though many descriptions exist, and some believe it can shape shift, one of the most common forms resembles a giant starfish. 

Many of the people living long the Mekong River in Thailand believe their river to be a inhabited by a large snake or dragon, possibly having multiple heads. This may sound demonic by western standards, but the Naga is a god in Hinduism and Buddhism. And in some legends, Naga are able to take human form. While sometimes dangerous, the Naga is also said to be polite, and will clean up after itself.

Giant and Misplaced Animals

A few river Cryptids are much more familiar then Dinosaurs, Demons, and Ape Men, the Japanese Numazu who is supposed to cause earthquakes, for example, is a giant Catfish.

Lake Iliamna Monster
The Lake Iliamna Monster is said to be either a giant sturgeon, or an alligator. Neither of these make much since considering alligators are not native to Alaska, and sturgeon are not known to live in the lake.

As with the infamous urban legends of Alligators living in New York's sewers, several locations have had rumors of Alligators or Crocodiles existing where they shouldn't, both in natural and man-made waterways.

The UFO Link
Many of the River Cryptids listed above have also been associated with UFOs or 'fireballs' over the same location. Whether this points to the Cryptids being alien in origin, or UFOs not being alien in nature, remains to be seen. Of course there are UFO sightings reported over waters where no Cryptids have been reported, so there's a chance the two aren't related at all.

Resources/Further Reading and Watching:

Al Eurfrasio & Jeff Davis Weird Oregon New York: Sterling, 2010.

Bob Rickard & John Michell. The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena. 2nd Edition. London: Rough Guides Ltd, 2007.

“Cold Blooded Horror” River Monsters: Unhooked (TV Series)

Wikipedia, last modified 2014 - 2 - 7

“Global Lake Monster Database”
Cryptology, Living Dinosaurs, and Origins, 2005

“Haunting and Naga”  Destination Truth (TV Series)

“Hauntings and Horrors/Creepy Canada” (TV Series)

“Lake Murray Beast; The Donner Party” Haunted Highways (TV Series)

“Loch Ness Monster”
Wikipedia, last modified, 2015 - 6 - 9

“Mamlambo and Tokeloshe” Destination Truth (TV Series)

Most Terrifying Places in America 6 (TV Special)

My Ghost Story; Caught on Camera (TV Series)

“Ohio Grassman; Green-clawed Beast; Big Mud…” Monsters and Mysteries in America (TV Series)

“Pacific Northwest” Monsters and Mysteries in America (TV Series)

Wikipedia, last modified, 2015 - 6 - 14

“Lake Ronkonkoma (lake)”
Wikipedia, last modified, 2014 - 8 - 15

Rosen, Brenda. The Mythical Creatures Bible. New York: Sterling, 2008.

Strangest Weather on Earth (TV Series)

Virginia Morell. “Sea Monsters” National Geographic. 2005, December

Wikipedia, last modified 2015 - 6 - 23

Wikipedia, last modified, 2014 - 3 - 29

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Own some Mythology - Shop Update

It's that time again, time for some shameless self-promotion of my etsy shop (CleverKraken). So, here's the newest stock that has a paranormal flair:

First off, here's a few ink and mixed media drawings, most of which feature mythical creatures, and with more illustrations coming in the future -

There's also this nostalgic piece of wearable art, featuring a lion and unicorn drawn in a heraldry inspired style. Lions generally represents valiance, royalty, and righteousness, whilst Unicorns represent strength, courage, and innocence -

And then there's this adorable Cerberus Plush, that sits up all on his own! Cerberus is the guard dog of the realm of the dead in Grecian Mythology - 

And lastly, there's a new listing so that you can order custom Jackalopes (and friends), as well as several wire wrapped stones, for those of you that believe in the power of crystals, or just find them pretty like I do -

You can also get fairly frequent shop (and blog) updates by following me on Twitter - @CleverKraken


Friday, May 1, 2015

Haunted Places in Key West, Florida

Connected to the mainland by the Overseas Highway, paved over the damaged Overseas Railway, Key West is an interesting island with full history, and many supposedly haunted locations, including the only Haunted Hard Rock Cafe (being home to the spirit of Robert Curry who committed suicide in the second floor bathroom, and is said to appear to guests and workers alike). You can also get there by ship, or you can jet ski there from Cuba if you're really motivated (and have enough gas).
There are two well known haunted cemeteries, the Key West Cemetery and St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery.

Amongst the humorous epitaphs at Key West Cemetery, (such as 'We finally know where he is sleeping', 'I'm just resting my eyes', 'If you are reading this you need a new hobby', and 'I told you I was sick') there is said to be a ghostly woman who sees herself as the cemeteries' guardian and will approach you angrily if she feels you're disrespecting the graves. Voices, orbs, and shadow figures have also been reported.
The St. Paul's Cemetery is said to be home to the angry spirit of a pirate hunter, as well as several children who were killed when the pastor set the church on fire to get back at his cheating wife, unaware the choir children were inside. It is said they will become upset if fire (cigarettes or lanterns) are brought into the cemetery. Orbs and strange sounds are also reported. This cemetery is considered so haunted some tours now refuse to take visitors into the cemetery.
In addition, there are several lesser known and lost burial plots including the empty (except for one headstone) lot a man bought to build his vacation home one, before learning over a hundred people had been buried there.

The Artist House B & B, is a popular stop, being the former residence of Robert the Doll (the inspiration for Chuckie), and while he's no longer there (he's currently splitting his time between the Post Office and East Martello Museum, both of which said to be haunted while he's in residence), some believe his presence can still be felt, as well as that of Eugene's (Robert's owner) Wife, who'd exiled the doll to the attic, an act with may have trapped her soul after death.

The Hemingway House is another popular haunted stop (seriously, just getting close to this place can pose a challenge). Ernest Hemingway himself is said to be seen waving from the studio window. Lights and typewriter sounds are often said to be heard after the museum is closed for the day. The house is also home to around fifty polydactyl cats, descended from Hemingway's own pet cat.

Also said to be haunted are; the Audubon House and Gardens (Captain Geiger's ghost still guards his gold, whilst his daughter's portrait emanates sadness and children can be heard throughout the house), Marrero's Guest Mansion (haunted by his second wife who was forced out by his divorced first wife after his death), Fort Zachary Taylor (haunted by Wendell who died of yellow fever), and the Ocean Key House Resort (poltergeist activity in third floor suite).

With only the vaguest rumors of being haunted (as in a quick reference to a ghost blob picture, which I couldn't even locate), the creepiest place I've ever visited in Key West was the overview of the generator onboard the USCGC Ingham.

Does this not look like something out of Silent Hill? I felt on edge walking in there, and I'm pretty sure I was the only member of our group willing to go more then one step inside. (This is the second place you can enter this room by the way, you have to cross through the generator room to eventually get to this door, but somehow it's only this portion that bothers people.) I thought I snapped a picture deeper inside, but I don't have one, so. . . I didn't?

The ship is now a museum and memorial, so it'd make sense if there were rumors of it being haunted, but it's like the one place in Key West I can't seem to find reference to being haunted. Aside from the unseen blob picture which was likely a reflection off one of the multitude of plexiglass enclosures, or light coming in one of the many portholes, like the one below.  

But there's still a lot of cool nautical stuff to see, including a Lyle Cannon (used to save lives, rather then take them), and a sound powered telephone!

Looks like the only ghosts here, are the ghosts of technology.

Further Reading and Resources:
(My apologies here, I accidentally deleted some of my sources.)

CGC Ingham Museum”
CGC Ingham Museum (Last Modified 2010)

Ernest Hemingway House”
Wikipedia (Last Modified 2015, 4, 10)

Key West Ghost Tours”
Ghosts and Gravestones (Last Modified 2015)

Robert the Doll”
Wikipedia (Last Modified 2015, 4, 29)

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Mystery of the Black Rings

Remember this?
Encase you don't, this is the black ring photographed by teenager Georgina Heap, in Warwickshire on April 11th 2014, as published on At the time I examined the photo and decided that there was a good chance the object in it was real (which does not make it paranormal), but was unable to positively identify it (other then it looked like a smoky black ring).

In the days following several theories were presented, both paranormal and natural. Some believe it to be witchcraft, and others believe it may be the result of spirit activity. Meanwhile some sources like the Huffingtom Post suggested it was insects, though they couldn't point to any specific insects that known to behave like that. Locust are known to block out the sky like a dark cloud, but lack any sort of organizational skills. On the 15th, a statement came from Warwick Castle that they were testing fireworks to compliment the firing of a trebuchet fireball, and the black ring was a result of their tests.

Mystery Solved.

But, say, does this look familiar?

This image was taken by Rex Heflin, in Santa Ana, back in 1965, and he claimed it to have been left behind by a UFO which he also snapped photos of. Images of the UFO are rather easy to find nowadays, but this is the best photo of the ring I could locate. It come from a detailed article Ann Druffel wrote for UFO magazine:

The authenticity of Heflin's photos has long been debated. Skeptics pointed to lines in the copies while the originals were confiscated, but after their return, no such lines are found on the originals. Skeptics also point out that the fourth picture appears to be of a cloudy sky, while the other three appear to have clear skies, though this has been suggested to also be a copy related anomaly. They also point out that objects thrown/suspended in the air are easily photographed for hoaxes, but believers claim there are smoke trails behind the UFOs that are not so easily faked.

Rings have also been sighted over Ft Belvoir and King's Dominion, in Virginia. The park claims the rings were caused by one of their rides, Volcano: The Blast Coaster. And the military base claims theirs was an nuclear blast simulation.
Fire and explosions creating black rings? That sounds familiar.

And here's a faint ring from Texas:
Which may have had something to do with a thunderstorm.

Of course there are still UFO explanations for these cases out there, like this article on how UFOs are hiding in clouds over Ft Belvior:

But the general consensus seems to be that where there is smoke, there is fire.

So what does this mean for Heflin's photos? Well, it leave me a more skeptical then before. If the UFO could easily be something like a hubcap, and the smoke ring the result of a fire or explosion (he was rather close to a military base, and had said himself the UFO might be an experimental craft, so witnessing an experimental explosion like those from Ft Belvior is not too far out of the question, and perhaps the fourth picture was actually the first picture taken), then it's easily a hoax.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Orange/Red UFOs vs. Topography

I was driving home one night, on a road I don't normally travel at night, and as I neared the turn I needed to take, I saw several reddish-orange orbs between the trees in the darkness ahead of me. They seemed to be moving in formation, and soon disappeared. I wondered about it as I made my turn. Had I just seen the orange/red UFOs that are more commonly reported in the UK? Was I overtired, and my mind playing tricks on me? Was it just a reflection on my windshield? Then I remembered something, there was a hill there, what I had perceived as sky, being above the normal horizon, was still land, and those were obviously just tail lights. It seemed so simple, embarrassingly simple, but I was not familiar with seeing that.

You may also recount my story of how Spooky saw orange orbs over a nearby hill, and learned there were roads they didn't know about up there.

So, I started to wonder, just how hilly is the UK? How many of our orange/red UFOs are actually taillights? Well, it turns out some areas of the UK are pretty hilly:

If my theory is correct, then there will consistently be more orange/red UFOs reports from the hilly regions of the UK, and not much from the flat area in the east. As expected, the flat area is relativity clear of UFO reports. I may be on to something, but a single check does not constitute evidence, so I'll have to do a few more checks before concluding that there is indeed a correlation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Role of the Supernatural in Crime and Law Enforcement

In Oct 2009 the Jamison family drove up Planola Mountain, then disappeared. Investigators found a twisted trail of evidence, including; a puppy left for dead in the truck, a creepy cellphone picture of the little girl, possible drug links (large amounts of cash, strange behavior caught on security cameras), marital stress (medical conditions, fights, hateful letters), a missing pistol, a white supremacist tenet (the wife being part Native American), talk of evil spirits, and claims of witchcraft. Yup, on top of all the other turmoil, the wife claimed to be a witch, and the husband thought there were four evil spirits living on their roof.

The wife offered to make witch's brew for friends, and vandalized local signs and other objects, after her cat was killed. Including spray-painting, 'witches don't like having their cats killed,' on the side her storage unit. Meanwhile, her husband went shopping for bullets that could kill ghosts. Yeah, you read that right, kill ghosts. Go ahead and take a moment to process that, no one's timing you.

Investigators were baffled, unable to eliminate any of the possibilities, except finding the tenant had a reliable alibi. Their remains were found in Nov 2013, but no cause of death could be determined. It's likely we'll never know exactly what went down that day.

And their tale is not alone, several other newsworthy crimes from recent years have some connection with the paranormal; amateur ghost-hunters accidentally burned down a historic mansion, multiple people have been killed in supposed exorcisms, and mobs have hunted down supposed witches (though, usually in more remote locations).

Historically there's also several criminal cases worth note. One that most Americans are familiar with would be the Amityville case, in which the murder claimed voices (presumed to be demons) made him do it. Similarly, a plethora of murderers (often cannibalistic) throughout history have blamed witches or demons, for turning them into werewolves. In many cases it's likely a tactic to absolve one's self of the sin, saying the devil made me do it, or at least an attempt to seem crazy enough to be treated differently from a regular murderer.

Then there's the law enforcement side of things:

Several police departments are said to have had breakthrough working with psychic investigators, and about a third of US police departments have accepted info from them in some way. Some success in narrowing down the locations of murder victim's bodies using a pendulum and map, has also been reported.

Of course, they're not without their critics, who claim that most force their previous predictions to fit after the case has been solved, and there are also several prominent cases where what the so-called psychic's claimed was so far off the truth it hurt family members of the victims, such as telling them family members were alive/dead when they weren't. Scientific studies have found no evidence that psychics had any advantage over police in identifying crimes when presented with partial  evidence. Most police agencies do not officially work with psychics, and even FBI officials have stated they should only be consulted as a last resort. Some psychics on the other hand, claim police organizations claim not to use psychic, so they can hog all the credit for solving the case.

Sometimes the result is in between, such as when Cheryl Carroll-Lagerwey lead police to where she'd seen the body of a missing child in a dream, but what they found there was an adult woman's body.

Resources and Further Reading/Viewing:
“America's Haunted Houses” (TV Special)

“Disappeared”, Paradise Lost (2010, TV Series)

“Ghost Hunters Burn Down Historic Mansion”
Live Science, (posted 2013, 11, 27)

“Jamison family disappearance”
Wikipedia, (last modified 2015, 1, 9)

“MysteryQuest”, Return of the Amityville Horror (TV Series)

“Psychic Detective”
Wikipedia, (last modified 2015, 1, 3)

Wikipedia, (last modified 2015, 1, 1)