Friday, April 14, 2017

Mythology of the Titanic

April 15 marks the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. For many people this tragic event is very simply explained by inferior steel/iron, lack of lifeboats (which were also not properly filled), and unheeded ice warnings (or a rouge iceberg). There are alternate explanations for the sinking, including a few that state the titanic was switched with another ship for insurance reasons. But there have long been even more bizarre legends and myths around the famous wreck.

* Rapping Below Deck *
One of the oldest stories involves a rapping or hammering sound. Rumors of workmen trapped in the hull apparently circulated around the ship, but later explanations would of course include the warping of the inferior steel/iron.

* The Mummy's Curse *
Some claim that among the more valuable items in the cargo hold, was the cursed mummy or sarcophagus (sometimes identified as Princess of Amen-Ra, or artifact no. 22542), who having caused the deaths of many involved with her, took the ship to the depths. Truth is artifact no. 22542 is actually the coffin lid of a Priestess of Amun, which William Stead and Douglas Murray wrote a ghost story about, before Stead went down with the Titanic. His mummy ghost stories then became entangled with survivors' other stories. The lid itself is still sitting in the British Museum. Amen-Ra, by the way, is just another variant name of Ra/Amun-Ra, the ancient Eygptian sun god (there's a link to the wikipedia page for him in the resources list below, encase you're curious).

* Other Ghosts *
Several ghost stories surround the artifacts recovered from the titanic. Apparitions and paranormal activity are supposed to plague museums that host them. Temperature drops, moving portraits, EVPS, ghostly touches, and shadow figures, have all been reported.

At least one person claims to have interacted with the ghost of Captain Edward John Smith, the captain of the Titanic, giving him a tour of his ship. However, he is also said to haunt his former home.

Ghost orbs have also been reported over the Titanic's resting place. Submarines in the location have reported communication errors, and even phantom SOS calls.

* Premonitions & Recognitions *
This entry of course would not be complete without mention of the various precognition claims related to the Titanic. Most notable is Morgan Robertson's “Futility” about the unsinkable SS Titan which bore many similarities to Titanic, including hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage while carrying too few lifeboats, despite being published in 1898 (14 years earlier). While the book is real, whether or not it is purely coincidence is up for debate.

William Stead is also known to have penned a tale about a White Star Line ship that rescued survivors of another ship after it hit an iceberg. This and his tale about a sunken mail ship have cause many to believe he knew he was to die on the Titanic.

Another claim comes from the helm of Titanian, when in 1939 the helmsman supposedly stopped at the position of the Titanic's wreck on a premonition, at which point a iceberg appeared and struck the hull, causing slight leakage.

Legend also has it that dying young woman interrupted a violinist (Wally) to tell him of her premonition of the massive ship sinking. That night, another violinist (Wallace) went down with the ship.

* Bonus: Interesting Facts *
- Titanic's RMS designation stands for Royal Mail Ship. In addition to passengers, there was a great assortment of cargo being brought across the Atlantic.
- The Titanic was originally designed with enough lifeboats, rumors say the head of White Star did not like the way it looked and ordered the number to be reduced.

Resources & Further Reading/Viewing:

12 Spine-Tingling Ghost Stories About The Titanic” Ranker
(Last modified prior to 2017-03-03)

Amun” Wikipedia
(Last modified 2017-02-17)

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

Cursed Mummy on the Titanic; Did a mummy's curse send the Titanic to the bottom of the ocean?” Snopes
(Last modified 2012-04-12)

Legends and myths regarding RMS Titanic” Wikipedia
(Last modified 2017-01-22)

RMS Titanic alternative theories” Wikipedia
(Last modified 2017-02-08)

RMS Titanic” Wikipedia
(Last modified 2017-02-19)

The Myth of the Titanic Mummy” Unmuseum
( Last modified between 2000 and 2017-02-19)

Titanian - Echo of Titanic” Encyclopedia Titanica
(Last modified prior to 2017-02-19)

“Titanic Mystery” Mysteries at the Museum (series, 2016)