Has Satan Had the Last Laugh?

For centuries, the skeptical derided witchcraft and its absurd paraphernalia of pacts with the Devil, Black Masses, covens, incantations, demons, orgies and evil spells. Often, courageous men went to their deaths sustained only by the convictions that mankind would eventually see reason and that human progress would banish for ever the irrational belief in the powers of darkness. incredibly, the opposite has happened and The Great Satanic Conspiracy — an idea originally conceived to frighten the credulous — has been recreated in modern terms to provide thrills for sensation-seekers who barely believe in the Bible.

Has Satan had the last laugh? Baphomet.

In 1768, John Wesley, stated categorically: “The giving up of witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the Bible.” The founder of the Methodists was not alone in his opinion that you could not separate the two. Many devout Christians of the 18th century believed everything in the Bible must be literally true. Once people started to doubt the reality of witches, they argued, they would eventually come to doubt everything else.

Like other men of his century, Wesley saw history as all of a piece, not appreciating the extent to which actions, attitudes, even words, shift their meaning across the generations. The so-called witches flatly condemned in Exodus (“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”) should properly be translated as ‘poisoners’ or ‘fortune-tellers’. Nowhere in the Old Testament, furthermore, is there any suggestion that a pact can exist between human beings and the Devil. Yet that belief was central to the notion of the medieval witch.

During the Christian revival of the Victorian Age it was found to be possible to believe in the Bible but not in witches — witchcraft was superstition, the stuff of fairy tales, the persecutions a cruel aberration. Today the attitude for many people is the reverse: they believe in witchcraft but not in the Bible!

The rapid growth of modern witchcraft is a remarkable event. Less than a century ago anyone who took more than an idle interest in the occult was considered a hopeless eccentric. Matters are very different today when everything to do with the occult is enjoying a boom. Yet it has always been around, in one form or another. Even during the apparently ‘dead’ centuries, the 18th-century Age of Reason and the 19th-century Age of Piety, and underground occult movement of satanism, magic ritual and Black Masses repeatedly broke surface.

The Hell Fire Club

The 18th century may have claimed to be an Age of Reason but it was also the Age of Libertines. In France and in England wealthy members of the upper classes took delight in mocking the ritual of the Christian religion.

The Illuminati in the 21st century.In England the Hell Fire Club was the first, a notorious society of the 1720s attended by men and women under assumed biblical names who took part in blasphemous ceremonies. The young and dissolute Duke of Wharton, president of the club, was in the habit of calling in taverns for “Holy Ghost Pie” — presumably when he wanted pigeon pie. Their secret rites became the subject of scandalous talk but hard facts are difficult to come by. One ceremony ended prematurely when a member released a large ape, equipped with Devil’s horns and a black cape. The other participants fled at this appearance of the ‘Devil’ in person.

Thirty years later Sir Francis Dashwood, a future chancellor of the exchequer, rented the ruined Abbey of Medmenham beside the Thames, added suitably medieval cloisters and a tower and founded the ‘Franciscan’ Order of Medmenham Monks. The members included several politicians who became prominent in later years; John Wilkes was one of them, another was the Marquess of Bute, the future prime minister.

Twice a month the 12 monks assembled at the abbey, dressed in white cloaks and coifs. Over the portal of the chapter house was written a quotation from Rabelais that can still be seen today — “Fay ce que voudrais“, Do as you like. Inside the chapter house, where pornographic pictures hung on the walls, alongside shelves of salacious books disguised as religious manuals, the monks worshiped the pagan goddess Cybele — though it is difficult to decide how serious they were. Some reports say girls were specially brought from London to be the ‘slaves of their lust’. However, the mood of these pagan ceremonies appears to have been genial. Wilkes later left the brotherhood and wrote an exposé of their behavior but he admitted they “used to sacrifice to mirth, to friendship and to love, never to fortune nor ambition.” Toward the end of his life Dashwood collaborated with Benjamin Franklin on an abbreviated edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

In France libertinage was uglier. In his book Justine the Marquis de Sade describes a blasphemous mass in which a young girl is dressed in the vestments of the Virgin Mary and raped by monks. “The monks made this virgin strip and lie down flat on her belly on a big table. They lit the holy candles and placed a statue of our Lord between her legs, and had the audacity to celebrate the most holy of our sacraments on the buttocks of this young girl…”

France is where references to Satanism and the Black Mass crop up most often between the 18th century and modern times. Belief in the Devil’s power remained very strong in Catholic France but a strong anticlerical movement, associated with Freemasonry, developed during the 19th century.

Freemasonry had always been condemned by the Vatican. Pope Pius IX fulminated against it and his successor Pope Leo XIII singled out the Masons as a group attempting to overthrow Christianity and restore paganism. It was the witch-hunt all over again.

Jesuits fomented the attack. A certain Jesuit, Archbishop Meurin, declared that in the coming Kingdom of Antichrist, Rome would be supplanted bu the American city of Charleston. The Grand Master of the Charleston Lodge, the Vicar-General of the Devil on Earth.

Evil in the Streets

The spirit behind this extraordinary antagonism to Freemasonry was in some respects like the attitude of mind that preceded the great witch persecutions. Society was in a state of flux. The discoveries of Darwin and other scientists worried people of a traditionalist cast of mind who wanted a return to the stable, hierarchical society where they had felt secure. The growing campaign for social reform was seen as another threat. These threats were comparable to the unrest and excitement of the Renaissance that preceded the witch-hunts.

Masonic secrets revealed!To the opponents of Freemasonry the impassioned figure of Leo Taxil must have seemed like an arrival from Heaven. He was a journalist who had previously published some anticlerical pamphlets, but in 1885 he started issuing a series of exposés of Masonry, claiming that the Masons practiced a revived form of the Albigensian heresy of the Middle Ages — the heresy that started the Inquisition on its long career.

Taxil revealed the existence of ‘Diana Vaughan’, descended from the issue of the 16th-century English alchemist Astarte. Her evil intentions were rivaled only by ‘Sophia Walden’, a daughter of Lucifer. Diana Vaughan later experienced a change of heart and was converted to Roman Catholicism. Her best-selling Memoires were read by Pope Leo who sent her his blessing.

Taxil addressed a vast anti-Mason meeting in Trent, attended by 18,000 people, who asked him to bring the famous Diana Vaughan from the convent where she was said to be in hiding. Taxil announced that she would appear on Easter Day 1897, in Paris. On this day he revealed that the whole affair, which he had kept up for over a decade, was a deliberate fraud; he had wanted to see how far he could go in duping the Roman Catholic Church.

Taxil needed police protection to escape with his life and the incident shows not only the gullibility of some churchmen, but also the readiness to believe that Satan literally walked the streets. It is hardly surprising that some Frenchmen were at this time thoroughgoing Satanists, worshipping the Devil, reputedly killing at least one child and cursing (successfully) their enemies.

In Normandy a certain Abbe Boullan was achieving considerable success cursing women of what he called ‘diabolical’ diseases. he would spit in their mouths, as Jesus had done and apply poultices of excrement to their skin. Nuns he would order to drink their own urine. His associate was a nun, Sister Adele Chevalier, and as a result of certain sexual rites they performed together, an illegitimate child was born and sacrificed by Boullan at a Black Mass. He was imprisoned (for fraud) and released, imprisoned by the Inquisition in Rome and again released, and made his way back to Paris to continue curing the sick. He cured women of sundry ailments by placing consecrated Hosts over their ovaries. The decadent novelist Joris Karl Huysmans attended several of his Black Masses and has left a description of one in which Boullan wore blood-red vestments decorated with obscene symbols. He spoke the Mass backward and was served at the altar by acolytes who were male prostitutes, heavily made up. The ceremony concluded with a sexual orgy.

Defiling the Host was a crucial detail of every Black Mass. It could be mixed with urine or excrement or abused as de Sade’s monks had abused it. In some rites it was torn to pieces by pincers since, if it was truly the body of Christ, it could be made to suffer pain.

The dominant figure of the occult world during the first half of the 20th century was Aleister Crowley but, though he was sometimes accompanied by a few disciples, he was essentially an isolated figure. The first modern witch, self-proclaimed as such, was Gerald Gardener who wrote in 1954 a book called Witchcraft Today. He was then 70 years old and he described in some detail the rites of a coven of witches whose ceremonies had descended, so he claimed, in an unbroken line from the Middle Ages and beyond. These were the rites of Wicca, claimed to be an ancient, pre-Christian fertility cult, the ‘Old Religion’ of Britain. Unfortunately, there is no evidence at all that any group of worshipers did survive the intervening centuries and it must be assumed that Gardner invented it all. This is made all the more likely by the nature of the rites which strongly condone the use of flagellation. Gardner was a sadomasochist with a taste for voyeurism. In the Great Rite of his ceremonies the High Priest (himself) and the High Priestess copulated while surrounded by the other members of the group.

Satanism in modern times.Following on the theories of Margaret Murray (which are discredited by serious historians) Gardner explained that witches are formed into covens of 13. The celebrated Scottish witch, Isobel Gowdie spoke of covens when she made her four extraordinary and voluntary confessions of witchcraft in Morayshire in 1662. Apart from that, the reference to witch covens in literature is sparse. Nonetheless, in the wake of Gardner’s enthusiasm, hundreds of witch covens were formed throughout the British Isles and spread rapidly to the United States and elsewhere.

There have been numerous splits in the movement since Gardner died. Some covens play down or exclude the sexual element. Most reduce the flagellation to a symbolic tap with a wand. Other covens have emphasized the sexual content and in one of these there is a strange ‘death spell’ which requires the priest and priestess to copulate — probably very uncomfortably — through a hole drilled in the middle of an ‘alleged neolithic stone relic‘.

Satan’s Last Laugh

Many reasons have been advanced to account for the rise in modern witchcraft. Once of the most persuasive argues that ritual and worship are fundamental needs of most human beings, and as the allegiance to Christianity decreases the many American and European witch sects have developed to satisfy those needs. A particularly appealing feature must be the small number of worshipers in each coven compared with the size of a typical church congregation. In a group of 13 each individual can feel he has an important role to play in the ceremonies.

The majority of modern witchcraft cults do not worship the Devil or some other evil principle in a deliberately anti-Christian ceremony. Pre-Christian deities are the most usual objects of worship, the Earth Mother or the Moon Goddess, Cybele, Astarte, Isis or Diana. They stress that the intentions of the rites are beneficent.

But other covens are far more violent and strongly emphasize the sexual activity. The act of sex itself is worshiped, or if not worshiped energetically celebrated. Professor John Fritscher described a Greenwich Village Black Mass in his book Popular Witchcraft. The members of the all-male coven were dressed in leather, the altar was to be a naked youth. He was first suspended by his wrists over a beam and whipped by the coven members in turn. Whiffs of amyl-nitrate were given to him to increase his endurance.

During the Black Mass the High Priest carved a pentacle on the youth’s left buttock and the ceremony concluded with all 13 coven members enjoying sexual intercourse with the specially chosen victim.

Professor Fritscher points out that such ‘staged’ ceremonies have already led to sadistic and sexual killings. In violent ceremonies such as these the Devil is not worshiped; so far as is known, babies are not eaten; there are no broomsticks. But in other respects — the group sex, the drugs, the ‘kiss of shame‘ on the anus, the eating of noxious substances — these modern witches are doing just what the medieval witches were erroneously supposed to do. Superstition has fed on itself and conjured fact out of fantasy; absurd beliefs which once only lingered in fevered minds have crystallized into serious ‘lore’; rituals which were invented merely to frighten the credulous have been recreated to provide thrills for jaded contemporary appetites.

After all these centuries, witchcraft has finally caught up with itself. If such a person as Satan exists, he must be laughing long and loud.

L’Inconnue de la Seine – Death Mask of an Unkown Woman

Nobody knows the identity of L’Inconnue de la Seine, the girl was dragged lifeless from the Seine river of Paris. But for more than 100 years, her face has moved people to adoration… and, destruction.

L'Inconnue de la Seine - Death Mask Original

The young student knelt before the palid face of the girl hanging like a white flower on his study wall. From the moment he had brought the bust into his university rooms, it had exerted a strong and baleful influence upon him. Now he kissed the cold and delicately molded lips, fixed his frightened eyes on her shuttered gaze, pressed a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger.

His life was over almost before it had begun, and L’Inconnue de la Seine, the Death Goddess of the Seine, had claimed another lover; another victim.

The story of L’Inconnue de la Seine, whose strangely serene features have drawn so many to suicide, is part fact, part legend, half mystery, half reality.

A hundred years ago, there stood on the Ile de la Cité, just beyond the great Cathedral of Notre Dame in the center of Paris, a grim, gray, stone building — the old Paris Morgue.

It was, incredibly, in a more barbaric age, rated as one of the sights of the city. Admission was free, and here gruesome curiosity could be sated with the spectacle of anything between 150 and 200 corpses almost lovingly exhibited on slabs of ice.

The purpose of this horrid preservation was to aid in the identification of the bodies of unknowns — les inconnus: to help authorities to keep the books straight.

It was to this vast, refrdgerated storehouse of unnatural death that they brought the body of the young girl, L’Inconnue de la Seine — The Unknown of the Seine. That is the name by which we must call her, for no one knows, nor seemingly ever knew, her actual name. Her lifeless body had been dragged from the river Seine.

We do not know the date of her discovery, but the style of her hair suggests that she lived in the 1870s or 1880s.

The Unknown Woman

For three months she lay in this dreadful place but no one came forward to claim her. Nor was anything discovered about her, except for her height, weight, color of eyes, color of hair and her estimated age — some have estimated her to have been as young as just 16 years of age, others have estimated her age to be of a woman in age of around 25 years.

What does my name say about me numerology?She had given herself to the river, but the river rejected her in death, even as, one may speculate, the city had rejected her in life. Her name unknown, they entered her upon the register simply as L’Inconnue — The Unknown One. Once her statutory three months of preservation was up, she would be buried in a pauper’s grave, in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

However, during those last months chance drove an art student from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, sketch-block in hand, into the old Paris morgue, much frequented at that time by artists seeking anatomical subjects for their pencils. He saw the unknown ice maiden, and was so struck by the haunting loveliness of that delicate, oval face that, having sketched it, he asked permission to cast a death mask.

A few weeks later that pathetic creature was laid in her nameless grace, but now innumerable copies of the mask were made. Artists sketched it, photographs were taken and suddenly L’Inconnue de la Seine was famous.

With neither the virtues of a saint, nor yet the picturesque vices of a sinner in the grand manner, L’Inconnue de la Seine became something infinitely more subtle; infinitely more dangerous. For, in her calmly closed eyes, in the strange little semi-smile that played about her lips — in reality no more than a postmortem trick of relaxing muscle, such as smooths the features of the elderly dead, making them look again as they once did long, long ago — impressionable youth read an invitation to death. “Come with me,” she seemed to say. “Come with me into the quiet water-world. Death is not so terrible. See how peacefully I smile in his company? Suicide is the answer, then there is only peace.”

About this beckoning image there grew a mysterious cult, which reached its peak in the irresponsible 1920s. In France, Germany and many other countries, young people killed themselves without rhyme nor reason in front of plaster copies, or photographs, of the ice Maiden, L’Innconue de la Seine’s death mask.

What, one wonders, was the personal tragedy of L’Inconnue de la Seine? In the absence of indisputable facts, writers have created a world of mythology around her.

In 1899, the fin-de-siècle poet, Richard La Gallienne, wrote an entire book about her — a tragic fairy tale called ‘The Worshiper of the Image.” He dedicated his book to L’Inconnue de la Seine. “There is always poison on the lips of Art,” he wrote.

 A Sphinx-like Face – The Unknown Beauty

Fifty-two years later, another writer, William Woods, also made L’Inconnue de la Seine the subject of a novel, The Mask.’ He weaves a strange tale around the sphinx-like face of L’Inconnue de la Seine, the unknown beauty of death. He names her Valerie, and she is first shown as a young revolutionary in czarist Russia. The complexities of the story he devises for her gradually unwind themselves to the final, stark simplicity of an early, self-selected death in France.

Deliberate creation instant self-hypnosis free download.All fiction, of course, Yet, there are clues to L’Inconnue de la Seine’s background in her face — the rounded, youthful chin, the plump country cheeks, the smudged delicacy of sound peasant stock. Had one not glimpsed its like at some market stall of a little country town, or perhaps behind the counter of some small, dark shop along a cobbled street? And the hair, straw-colored, one fancies, neatly arranged in careful, but not elaborate, loops. Does it not, too, suggest a country girl?

May it not be that she fled in disguise from the unbearable disapproval of a narrow-minded family and neighbors, and sought anonymity and a cloak for shame in the big city of Paris?

Once can imagine her dilemma as her tiny pocket of money dwindled, her modest clothing grew crumpled, her sunny hair lank and drooping. She dared not go home. If just one person had supported her in genuine friendship she might have lived on.

At last, worn beyond caring, did she slip quietly from a black and greasy wharf into the tide of the Seine, her fingertips gently releasing her last hold on life?

Again, nobody really knows.

But for more than a century — by a trick of chance — her head has hung in the studios, the garrets and attics of the bohemias of the earth. Artists have been her innocent lovers. She is of the world of Du Maurier’s Trilby and Little Billee, and as long as there are Rudolfs and Marcels, Mimis and Musettes, her memory is in safe-keeping.

Gregory Potemkin – The Hoaxer with a Cast of Thousands

Gregory Potemkin’s task was to transform the Crimea. But his real work started when Empress Catherine decided to inspect the area. The result was the world’s most outrageous conjuring trick.

Gregory Potemkin Portrait

In 1783 Catherine II, Empress of Russia, annexed the Crimea after a war with Turkey, well aware that her new province was little more than a desert waste.

The Crimea must be transformed, she decided, and carefully considered those of her courtiers who might be able to carry out her wishes without much delay. Automatically she thought of her numerous lovers, past and present, and soon decided that Gregory Potemkin was the best man for the job.

She could hardly have made a worse choice, but Catherine, as always, was madly in love and saw in Gregory Potemkin qualities that no one else saw. The empress, for all of her faults, was energetic, often — as she wrote in her Memoirs — “rising at three in the morning and dressing myself alone from head to foot in male attire. Together with a fisherman and a pointer I shot ducks on the reeds in the canal at Orienburg. In the evening we rode out on horseback then for 24 hours I ate nothing and drank only cold water.”

In contrast, Gregory Potemkin spent every night drinking heavily and not cold water. His name was a byword for gluttony and he rarely rose before noon.

However, acting on a sudden whim, Catherine had appointed him Assistant War Minister, and soon afterward Gregory Potemkin became War Minister.

The promotion changed Potemkin completely and now, apparently inspired by Catherine’s plans, he embarked on a whirlwind transformation of the Crimea. He noted all her plans, added many of his own and, as governor of the province, Potemkin started work without delay.

The City of ‘Catherine’s Glory’

Potemkin began building the harbor at Sevastopol and ordered large fleets of battleships and merchantmen. From China he obtained silkworms and started a new industry. Forests and vineyards sprang up in what had been virgin land and, most impressive of all, he produced plans for a grand new city on the River Dnieper which he named Ekaterinoslav — ‘Catherine’s Glory’

In fact those wonders existed only in Gregory Potemkin’s fertile imagination. But, whenever he returned to St Petersburg, he reported plans that had not yet been started — nor ever would be — as if they had been completed in their entirety and Catherine, completely besotted in her love for Gregory Potemkin, believed every word.

So, in 1787, Catherine announced that she would visit the Crimea to inspect the transformation. Most men would have been horror-struck on realizing that their deception was soon to be exposed. But not Gregory Potemkin. He went ahead to make sure that bands of happy peasants, fields of waving corn, new palaces, prosperous villages and thriving factories were there for the empress to see as she progressed down the Dnieper river.

Catherine II of Russia Portrait

Catherine II of Russia

The fact that virtually none of the wonders he had described so vividly existed, and that Catherine was already on her way to the Crimea, did not worry Gregory Potemkin in the least.

Over a part of the route, Catherine traveled with a retinue of 40,000 friends, officials and servants. Her sleigh was like a miniature house on runners and was drawn by eight horses. At each stopping place Gregory Potemkin had 500 horses stationed. Bonfires blazed at scores of points and every village through which Catherine passed had been painted. To the empress everything was perfection — neat houses, happy villagers and a general air of contentment.

In fact the houses had only had their fronts painted. Trees had been hurriedly planted to hide unsightly spots. Roofs had been re-tiled with pieces of cardboard. Everyone was compelled to wear their best clothes and all the aged and infirm were kept out of sight until the royal procession had passed.

Only a few years before, Catherine had traveled along the same road and shed tears over the obvious poverty and misery she had seen. Now, it seemed to her, Gregory Potemkin had achieved miracles.

At Kiev everyone in her retinue was provided with a beautifully furnished house. After every meal the table linen was given to the poor and all the time Catherine chattered most enthusiastically about the prosperity of the region.

As soon as the ice on the river had melted Catherine and her company embarked in boats. Seven of them were floating palaces and the 80 vessels that followed, carrying 3,000 people, were scarcely less magnificent.

Catherine’s personal barge was lined with costly brocade. Servants wore splendid uniforms and served meals on golden plates. Each day the empress reclined under a silken awning admiring the triumphal arches, the fields filled with grazing cattle and smartly dressed soldiers drilling, Each night from the river she saw peasants dancing happily. Everything represented peace and prosperity, yet a vastly different scene was being enacted a few miles away at places she had already seen.

A Fantastic Charade

There the villages had in some cases vanished. They had been mere facades. At others the camouflage had been stripped away. Fields were empty of sheep and cattle and the splendid arches were already being speeded south, past the royal party, to be quickly re-erected further downstream.

Wherever Catherine stayed overnight her barge rocked gently in a small harbor giving views of a distant palace, waterfalls and trees. Tangled forests had been transformed into beautiful, formal gardens with tropical trees. These had been planted only a few hours before and would wither away a few days later when the empress had gone. The backdrop scenery would decay in wind and rain, but they had served their purpose. Catherine believed that they were real.

In what was to be the city of Ekaterinoslav the empress laid the foundation stone of a cathedral grand enough to make St Peter’s in Rome look like a village chapel. It was never built, but Catherine was certain that it would soon dominate her new city and on she went.

Gregory Potemkin and Chaterine II the GreatEverywhere she saw new factories, people building houses and roads. What she remembered as tiny hamlets from just a few years ago were now bustling towns and she had no idea that serfs from dozens of towns had been dragooned into the masquerade.

There was no limit to the wonders that Gregory Potemkin provided for her. A whole army paraded before her at Poltava re-enacting a battle won by Peter the Great on that very spot.

At Kherson a new fortress towered over a harbor crammed with men-o’-war, their guns powerful and menacing. Then Catherine turned for home, completely satisfied with what she had seen with her very own eyes.

A day later rain fell in Kherson and the fortress, built of sand, just melted away. The guns she had seen had no ammunition. The magnificent warships were made of the flimsiest materials.

Over a route of many hundreds of miles Gregory Potemkin had perpetrated the most expensive and grandiose hoax in history.

It had cost seven million rubles and countless man hours. Poor people had been driven from their homes to play their part in the magnificent masquerade. Not a vestige of the grand buildings, towns or villages that Catherine had seen stood for more than a few weeks.

The only result of it all was that the empress had enjoyed the spectacle and Gregory Potemkin was held in yet higher esteem by the woman he had so brazenly deceived.

The real secret, however, was that Catherine had seen what she wanted to see; and believed what she wanted to believe. As much as anything, the empress had deceived herself.

Mystery Stains of Blood and More That Defy Explanation

The 600 girls murdered to provide blood for the mad Countess now have their eerie memorial. For nothing can remove the bloodstain in ‘Dracula’s Castle’!

Castle Lockenhaus mystery stains human blood

The bloodstains on the top of the main stairway in the palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, are still there, though then can no longer be seen. David Rizzio, favorite of Mary Queen of Scots, dragged from her presence by jealous rivals, fell there, his body pierced by 56 stab wounds, on March 9, 1566.

The spot is now marked by a brass plate on which are engraved particulars of the murder but underneath, say the guides, the telltale marks have never faded or been washed away. They, like several other bloodstains, may never be eradicated.

For many years successive landlords of the Chequers Inn, at Crookham, in the English county of Hampshire, tried to get rid of bloodstains from the wall in the bar. It was made late in the 19th century when Jack Mackerel was shot dead by his best friend, the local gamekeeper. The gamekeeper was already very drunk and someone, eager to make a quick profit from his drunkenness, said: “I’ll bet you five shillings you can’t shoot out the candle flame.”

The gamekeeper rose, picked up the gun that he always carried with him and cocked it. On this occasion his hand was unsteady and the gun wavered as he took aim and fired. The flame was still flickering as the noise died away. But Jack Mackerel was there on the floor, dead.

Blood spurted from his body onto the wall and could not be washed away. Soaps and powders, scrubbings and rubbings failed to remove it and eventually, the wall was stripped and scraped. Then a pottery pelican in flight was carefully placed on the once rusty red spot and it seemed that the bloodstain had vanished.

However, in recent years the pelican was broken, the wall beneath was revealed once more and there was the bloodstain, clearly visible.

Cat and Man

Another indelible bloodstain, much older, can still be seen in the porch of the ‘Cat and Man’ church, in the village of Barnburgh, near Doncaster, Yorkshire, according to a newspaper report. It originated in an incident more macabre than any murder.

About 500 years ago Sir Percival Cresacre, a local knight, was riding toward Doncaster through thick woods when he was attacked by a wild cat, which jumped up on to the back of his horse.

Sire Percival’s steed, terrified by the attack, threw its rider and bolted, leaving Sir Percival injured and still struggling with his vicious attacker in an effort to reach safety.

With the wild cat still clawing at him Sir Percival Cresacre staggered into the church porch and stumbled. His legs, as he fell to his death, crushed the cat against the stonework and it, too, died. So the cat killed the man and the man killed the cat in the same moment.

To this day the gory stain, of either man or cat, can clearly be seen.

Jim Thorpe’s Bloody Hand

The bloodstain that can still be seen on the wall of a cell in Carbon County Jail, in the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, was, however, placed there deliberately.

In 1878 Thomas P. Fisher, was arrested tried and found guilty of murdering Morgan Powell. During the whole of his imprisonment until the day of his execution Fisher protested his innocence.

As he was being dragged away to be hanged he managed to cut his hand and, allowing the blood to flow freely, planted it firmly on the wall of his cell, shouting: “My mark will stay here as long as this prison remains.” Repeated painting and whitewashing have failed to remove the outline of a man’s hand, marked in blood.

The Shadows of Hiroshima

In Hiroshima, Japan, scene of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion on August 6, 1945, there is a shadow which, many experts believe, will remain there forever.

An unidentified man was sitting on the steps of the Sumitomo Bank building when the bomb exploded over the city. It obliterated him and many, many others, but he achieved a strange immortality.

The dark outline of his body, which for a split second protected the granite steps of the bank, was all that remained. No attempt was made to remove it but, over the years, it began to fade from a deep black to a gray. Then plans were made to seal it in an airtight container, as a grim memento of a great atrocity.

Human Blood

In far distant Castle Lockenhaus, high in a remote part of the Burgenland district of Austria, its caretaker tells visitors of a discolored patch of earth under the castle arch that turns blood red after rain.

“The stain is a reminder of the dreadful things that once happened here — and the terrible woman who made Lockenhaus a place of fear,” she says. For Lockenhaus is part of the terrible legend of Dracula.

In the 16th century the castle was owned by Countess Bathori, a beautiful noblewoman with a bizarre taste in drinks. It was said that she drank human blood.

Villagers talked of the strange disappearances of young girls, of screams from the castle and mysterious carriages vanishing into the night. With relief they heard one day that the countess had sold the castle and was leaving to go to her original home in Roumania.

The old story gradually faded from people’s minds until, in 1610, Countess Bathori was caught in the act of drinking human blood in Csejtl Castle in the Carpathian Mountains, admitting, as she did, that she firmly believed that human blood improved her complexion.

To get it, apparently, she had murdered more than 600 peasant girls and when she was arrested three were found bound, tortured and drained of their blood in the castle dungeons. Three of the Countess’s accomplices were taken and burned at the stake and she was walled up alive in her own castle.

Naturally the news from Csejtl reached her old home and the stories told by old folk were repeated and in many instances believed. The caretaker of Castle Lockenhaus in the 1970s claimed: “Mercifully we believe that the countess only murdered a few girls here. But some time after her execution in Roumania the mysterious bloodstain appeared.”

Normally it shows as a faint, muddy patch beneath the arched entrance to one of the old dungeons. But when rain comes, it turns scarlet.

Experts have examined the soil for traces of minerals that might produce a reddish tint when rain falls. They found nothing to support that belief.

Efforts have been made to remove the stain, but without avail. Some mysterious power has given it a permanence that defies explanation and the power of modern science to get rid of it.

Bizarre but True Examples of Precognition

Do human beings possess precognitive powers? Are people actually seeing the future in dreams? Have you ever had a dream about future events? The people we’ll examine in this article claim to have had just such dreams and visions — and their stories check out!

His nerves shattered, the pilot managed to pull out at the very last moment from the spiraling dive that threatened to wreck his aircraft. To fix his position in the storm, he flew over the disused airfield he had seen only a day earlier. Incredibly, everything had changed. The hangars were busy. Strange planes, in unfamiliar colors, lined the tarmac. There were mechanics everywhere, but for some reason they didn’t seem to hear him as he roared overhead. It wasn’t surprising. He was seeing the airfield four years ahead of its time.

Bizarre but True Examples of Precognition

Unless he could regain control of his open-cockpit Hart airplane, Wing-Commander Victor Goddard knew he would be killed within seconds. The flier — later to become Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard — had been caught in a storm near Edinburgh, Scotland. The year was 1935, and it looked as though it would be his last. Just in time, he was able to flatten out… but so close to the ground that a girl who was running in pouring rain had to duck her head to avoid his wing tip.

Goddard knew the neighborhood well. Only the previous day he had visited nearby Drem Airport, known to him from World War One. But it was, he discovered, disused, the roofs of the hangars falling in, the tarmac in sad disrepair. The airfield itself had been divided up by barbed wire fences into numerous pastures with large numbers of cattle grazing. Now, in this pressing crisis, he decided to fly over the airfield in order to establish his position.

The result was the strangest experience of his life.

One moment he was flying over the airfield boundary in deluging rain and in dark, turbulent flying conditions. But the next moment, on crossing the boundary, the weather conditions and the surroundings were transformed. Instead of storm there was golden sunlight, and in place of the disused airfield of the previous day there was now an operational airport, with newly laid tarmac and recently repaired hangars. To his intense surprise, on the ground were planes painted yellow instead of the duller aluminium then in use, among them being a monoplane of a type unknown to him.

Wartime Prevision

Goddard said later:

“In the mouth of the hangar closest to me another monoplane was being wheeled out. The mechanics pushing it were wearing blue overalls. As I passed over them, having climbed from only a few feet above ground to just high enough to clear the roof of the hangar, I must have been making a great deal of noise and, normally, this would have caused a considerable sensation. Zooming the hangars, as I was doing, was a court martial offense! It was quite certain that those mechanics must have looked up at me (had I been ‘there’ to them) as I flew over so close. But none of them looked up. This struck me as very strange. It also struck me as strange that the airmen were wearing blue overalls. RAF mechanics had never worn anything but brown overalls when working in hangars on aircraft.”

The golden sunlight vanished as the Wing-Commander crossed the boundary of the airfield and he was back in the turbulent flying conditions which had so nearly caused his death. He climbed to 17,000 feet for the return flight to his headquarters and Andover in Hampshire, where, during the morning break, he told a group of wing-commanders about his amazing experience. He was received with incredulity. “Take less whiskey next time you go to Scotland,” one of his listeners advised.

Sir Victor Goddard decided that the less he said then the better. “Having heard my own story with, as it were, their ears, I myself became aware of its unbelievableness, and therefore did not repeat it to anyone else,” he said in his account written later. “An officer hardly wants to get a reputation for having hallucinations in the air; it was easy to be taken off flying for medical reasons, and I would not have liked my state of mental order to be called in question.” However, he wrote to his hostess in Scotland to tell her of his experience, and she thought “it all very peculiar.” Wing-Commander Haylock, one of the little group at Andover who was the first to hear this extraordinary story, remembers that the account of the vision was given on the day it happened.

War came to Britain in September 1939. At Drem Airport the farmer was removed and the airfield rebuilt to become an Elementary Flying Training School. The airmen were dressed in blue overalls when at work, yellow 504N biplanes were in use there, and the Magister monoplane was introduced — the unfamiliar machine Goddard had seen in his vision of the transformed airfield four years earlier!

What was the nature of Sir Victor Goddard’s experience and the explanation for it? Looking back 30 years later he said:

“As to the quality of the experience and its relation to normal reality or to dreamland, there was something ethereal about the sunlight; it was brilliant and glorious, but yet somewhat other than normal bright sunlight. I had a strange feeling about the mechanics on the ground as real men. Although quite real in their movements and general manner toward their job, looking quite natural, yet they did not react naturally toward me and my zooming Hart close overhead. Evidently they neither saw nor heard me. But I could see both my airplane and them at the same time. Afterward I wondered whether, in the context, they were more real than I was! But I had remained flying in my airplane; I was not disembodied. I was aware of my change of circumstances but also of the noise that my airplane made, and I was aware of the appropriate sensations as I swooped over the hangars. I was not in any degree unconscious of my actions. I had, however, been suffering from mental shock and was certainly under stress of anxiety. I had been really frightened by the loss of control in the cloud, by the certainty of death, and I continued to be highly tensed by the rigors of the flying conditions. It is hard to be definite in what one says about sensing the difference between a dream and a vision. The yellow airplanes seemed to be totally real. So did the gleaming hangar roofs, black like the backs of great whales, only a few feet beneath me.”

A Dream of Death

Whatever the explanation, it seems that the curtain that veils the future was lifted for Sir Victor Goddard when he flew over Drem Airport and saw it as it was to be on the outbreak of war four years later.

Sir Victor continued to have uncanny experiences. The most weird — and it involved an event in the future which almost came true — happened at a cocktail party given in his honor in Shanghai in 1946. He overheard the astonishing news that he had been killed in an air crash — a crash that was yet to happen!

Admiral Sir Gerald Gladstone of the Royal Navy

Admiral Sir Gerald Gladstone

On the morning of the cocktail party, Captain Gerald Gladstone, Royal Navy, who ended his career as Admiral Sir Gerald Gladstone, woke up with the conviction that Sir Victor was dead. He was unable to account for this conviction because he had never had an experience like this before nor has he since. All that day he expected to be told of the Air Marshal’s death, but when no news was received of it he went to the party, where he told an astonished fellow guest that he was glad the party had not been postponed because of Victor Goddard’s death, and Goddard overheard him!

A most embarrassing conversation followed, with profuse apologies from Captain Gladstone. “I’m not quite dead yet,” the Air Marshal smiled. “What made you think I was?”

According to Sir Victor, Captain Gladstone said, “I dreamed it. I had a dream! Last night… or was it this afternoon? I could have sworn it was true. It seemed so true. How frightful!”
“What else did you dream about?” Goddard asked. “Where did it happen?”

“It was a rocky, shingly shore, in the evening, in storm. It was awful, a snowstorm. Don’t know where it was China or Japan. You’d been over the mountains in cloud. Up a long time… I watched it all happen.”

The naval officer added that in addition to the Royal Air Force crew the plane that crashed–“an ordinary sort of transport passenger plane. Might have been a Dakota”–was carrying three civilians, two men and a woman. All were English.

Sir Victor Goddard thought it was impossible that the plane assigned to take him to Tokyo would be called on to carry three civilians, but this is precisely what happened, and the Dakota that took off the following morning carried three civilians, one of them a woman.

After a dreadful flight in cloud, some of it over the mountains of Japan, the captain of the Dakota crash-landed the plane during a snow storm in the early evening on the rocky, shingly shore of Sado Island off the coast of Japan. Every detail of the prediction had been fulfilled–except that the passengers survived.

This amazing true life story was seen by millions in the film The Night My Number Came Up, but, as Sir Victor Goddard himself has pointed out, various script writers made significant changes in the story.

The famous author J. B. Priestley, who has always been fascinated by the paradox of precognition, tells in his Man and Time of the experience of a man, who in his childhood and youth suffered from attacks which lasted a day or so and kept him prostrate with blinding headaches and nausea. Lying in a darkened room, toward the end of each attack he would experience a kind of passage “through a succession of colors, so vivid that hey hurt — the reds, blues, greens and purples merged and wavered,” then they would separate and seem to submerge him in the intensity of their glare. At this point, each time, he would feel fully awake and would vomit, and then would sleep long and soundly and wake feeling refreshed and quite well.

J. B. Priestley smoking pipe

J. B. Priestley

Years later, in World War Two, when he was with the Royal Air Force in Malaya, Japanese fighter planes shot up a convoy he was traveling with in the mountains. He and the other men were ordered to scatter in the surrounding jungle. “As I burst through the green maze,” he said, “I saw a small ravine below me, occupied by Australian machine-gunners. A Japanese fighter, swooping low, seemed to be following me with personal intent, and I dived into the security of the ravine. At that moment the world exploded into a hell of color. All the jagged splinters of red, blue, green and vivid purples caught and swamped me and flung me among the gunners.”

A bomb in fact had just burst behind him and blown him into the ravine. The next thing he knew he was being violently sick. Later he was taken prisoner. But never again did he have the old attacks, or see the bright menacing colors and then be sick. “The early events became a foreshadowing of what happened in Malaya; they were almost like rehearsals of it,” Priestley concluded.

Before his son, Gus, was killed in a plane crash the comedian Michael Bentine was warned in a vision of what was going to happen.

“The precognition came during the day — 12 weeks before the crash — and I saw clearly the aircraft, saw it flying into cloud, and then crash into the ground. All that was missing was when it would happen.”

Mr Bentine told his son about it in his mother’s presence, as Mrs Bentine afterwards confirmed. She was naturally upset. “I warned him to take care and I had never before warned him in his life,” the comedian added. “I never tried to stop him because the individual must have free choice.”

On August 28, 1971, Gus Bentine was a passenger in a plane piloted by another young man which disappeared shortly after takeoff from an airfield in Hampshire. Nine weeks later the wreckage of the plane, and the bodies of the two young men, were discovered in a wood 16 miles away. If Gus Bentine had heeded his father’s warning, based on a vision, he could have been alive today.

The Radio Cut Out

One who did heed a warning conveyed in a vision about an impending air disaster was Mr Jack Roberts, a British businessman who, in August, 1956, was visiting Bogotá, Columbia. At midnight on August 16 he agreed to join some local businessmen in a flight to Tunja, 100 miles northeast of them, to inspect a factory, but on returning to his hotel he found a close friend, Mrs Gisela Hass, whom he intended to marry, deeply upset because she had had a premonition of disaster, and she begged him not to go. Mr Roberts slept well that night but in the morning he found Mrs Hass literally ill with anxiety. She explained that in the early hours, while in a drowsy state, she had seen in a vision a small plane crashing in the mountains.

As a result of the repeated warnings of his friend Mr Roberts agreed to stay with her and tried to persuade Mr Roger Vaughan and Mr Hernandez, two directors of a firm interested in the factory at Tunja, to postpone the flight, but they decided to go without him. An hour and a half after the plane, a Cessna, took off from the airfield, 9,000 feet above sea level, it crashed near Choconta and all in it were killed. Mrs Hass was so certain of the fate of the plane that before news of the crash was received she went to three churches to pray for divine intervention to avert the tragedy.

Dr J. C. Barker, a consultant psychiatrist who had played a leading part in the setting up of the British Premonitions Bureau to give early warning of impending disasters, rubbed his eyes sleepily when the telephone rang in his home at 6 a.m. on March 21, 1967. He roused himself when he realized his caller was Mr Alan Hencher, a night telephone operator for the Post Office who had a gift for precognition. Mr Hencher, speaking from his home in Dagneham, Essex, said in troubled tones:

“Aircraft Caravelle over mountains. Will be leaving in early morning between Sunday and Monday– it is going over mountains. It is going to radio that it is in trouble. Then it will cut out and there will be nothing. There are 123 or possibly 124 people on board. It is going to crash shortly after takeoff. I can’t tell exactly where or when it is going to happen. Once person is saved in a very poor condition. I have had this feeling for a week, but has been very strong in the past two-three days…”

Dr Barker took notes while Mr Hencher was speaking because he knew that it is important, whenever possible, to have written evidence of a warning in advance of any happening to which it may refer. Dr Barker kept these notes by him and was astounded to hear on April 20 that a Britannia airliner had crashed into a hilltop near Nicosia in Cyprus earlier that day with the loss of 124 lives. Radio contact was lost before the airliner crashed.

Later reports said that the Britannia carried 120 passengers and a crew of ten, and four people were saved, so the death toll was 126 and not 124. The plane was a Britannia and not a Caravelle, but even for all that the prediction was remarkably accurate. It is interesting that Mr Hencher should interpret the figure 124 as the number of people in the plane whereas first reports gave this as the number of people who had been killed.

Mr Hencher began to notice an ability to predict future events in 1952, two years after receiving a head wound in a car accident. He told Mr Peter Fairley, then a science correspondent of the London Evening Standard and co-founder with Dr Barker of the British Premonitions Bureau, that since the accident he regularly gets a sharp pain like migraine in his forehead which lasts half a minute, followed by a dull feeling of pain at the back of his head where he was hurt in the accident. Reporting the premonition got rid of the headache.

A Gift for Disaster

Premonitions, he found, took anything from five minutes to two weeks to develop. “Sometimes I see things in black and white — sometimes in color. Often I get a figure in my mind, as though someone had spoken it. The details seem to come almost as headlines, and they come afterward. As regards geographical locations, I don’t get place names. I only see the immediate area and certain features. Occasionally I see words written , or see peoples’ lips moving, but I’m not near enough to get a clear picture.”

Mr Hencher had other premonitions of air disasters. On May 1, 1967, he had a premonition of a plane crash with many survivors and much sadness and he told Dr Barker that the tail fin featured in it. Asked in advance by Dr Barker for the reason for the feeling of sadness, Hencher replied “children.” On June 4 an Argonaut belonging to British Midland Airways en route from Palma, Majorca, to Manchester crashed at Stockport, with the loss of 72 lives. Among the dead were a number of children. In all the news pictures of the crash and on TV the tail fin featured prominently as it was the only part of the plane that was more or less intact.

Mr J. B. Priestley was sorting out the piles of letters he received as a result of his appeal for premonitions when he had a call from a neighbor and friend whom he knew to be both intelligent and scrupulously truthful. At Priestley’s request his friend related this truly amazing story:

“Since the age of five I have had intermittently very quick previsions of happenings which have subsequently occurred. The odd thing about them is that they have always been accompanied by the picture of the name of the person mainly concerned in the event. For example: “Three weeks before the death in an air crash of the Duke of Kent during the war, I was playing some ball game in the garden of our house in Wales when I had a sudden vision of an airplane at the moment of impact with the ground. Just above the ‘picture’ was written as a kind of headline the words “The Duke of Kent”.

“About a fortnight before the death in a Comet air crash I had a ‘picture’ of an aircraft exploding in the air with the words ‘Chester Wilmott‘ written as a headline above the picture. I expect you’ll remember him as a well-known war correspondent.

“About two days before his death in a car crash I saw the name of the film star Bonar Colleano written above the ‘picture’ of a very violent smash up.

“These are three examples out of about ten in all which I recall. They are all, incidentally, of violent death, and always the name of the person involved appears as a kind of headline. The only person I have ever related these occurrences to is Barbara [ his wife] and she can confirm some of them. There is no preliminary to having the ‘picture’, each one occurred during the day, and, as I recall, each one has occurred when I was out of doors.

“The first two or three I took no notice of at the time of having them, but I remember vividly being brought to consciousness of them as a result of feeling no surprise when the ‘real’ even actually happened. In short, I already knew, and when the news was announced it was as if it were ‘cold’ news.”

Priestley’s friend remarked that the possession of this uncomfortable gift was “disturbing enough to have made me hide them [the experiences] away from myself and others for a very long time.”

Lorna Middleton, a well-known English psychic, wrote to the Central Premonitions Registry in New York on December 1, 1969, to say that she had a premonition that there would be a disaster connected with a mountain and that a plane may crash. “I see people climbing up a side of a mountain in mud mainly, but they are heavily clothed. They climb because of an accident. Plane or train — it is always difficult to distinguish…”

With the letter she enclosed a sketch of men and women pulling themselves up the side of a steep mountain.

On December 8, 1969, a news dispatch from Athens reported that 90 people were killed when an Olympic Airways DC-6B plane crashed into Mount Paneion during a storm. Rescue workers climbed up the side of the mountain for three quarters of an hour before they reached the scene of the wreckage.

Britain’s greatest air disaster was the crash of a British European Airways Trident at 5:11 p.m. on June 18, 1972, at Staines, Middlesex, a few minutes after it had taken off from London (Heathrow) Airport for Brussels. All 118 people on board were killed. Among them was Dr John Raeside, who had a premonition of disaster before he left for a conference in Brussels. “It is not that he thought he would be killed; he just felt very strongly that he didn’t want to go to the conference,” his wife said later. “But with me it was more clear. I had the premonition that something would go wrong. As I got home I turned on the radio and knew he was dead before I heard it.”

British European Airways flight 548 crash site wreckage air disaster

British European Airways flight 548 crash site

At ten minutes past four on the day of the Trident crash Miss Eliot Bliss, a member of the Society for Psychical Research, was lying down in her home in Bishops’ Stortford, Hertfordshire, on the point of going to sleep for an hour (she had been very ill) when the word ‘Trident’ flashed through her mind, accompanied by a ‘snap shot’ picture of this plane but on the ground, where indeed it was at the time. “Curious, I wonder why I thought of that?” she mused before dropping off to sleep. She knew the answer to her question when she heard of the Trident crash on the six o’clock news.

Glimpses of the future come in the form of mental impressions, feelings of unease, and visions when awake, but most often in dreams or in the twilight state between sleeping and waking. One of the most bizarre previews of an air disaster was given to Mrs G. H. M. Holms, wife of a retired member of the Indian Civil Service, who saw in a dream a body falling from the air three days before this actually happened.

A Sickening Thud

In July 1930 Mrs Holms was on holiday in Goathland, Yorkshire with her husband and daughter. On the night of Friday 18 she dreamed that she was walking by herself in an unfamiliar scene in which there were apple trees, and a short distance ahead of her, on the path, two laborers were working.

“The sky was completely covered with low-lying light-gray clouds, and suddenly, out of the clouds, high up on my left the body of a man came shooting down at a slightly curving slant, head first, at a terrific pace, as if from a great distance. My brain seemed super-active. I took in his whole appearance instantaneously as he fell. A medium-sized, very-well-set-up figure, in a well-cut gray suit, with well-cut fairish hair, clean shaved. I did not see his full face, only his back and side view. The great momentum carried him down to my right, where he landed on his head a few yards from me, with a sickening thud, and with the thud I heard something crack and said out loud, ‘There goes his skull’. The body rebounded once and then rolled over once or twice, a yard or two, and bumped into a tree, which stopped it. I saw the top of the mutilated head which was toward me. It was smashed in like the top of an egg, and covered with blood.”

In her dream Mrs Holms saw the laborers hurry to the scene of the accident and carry the body to a cottage. When she woke she described her dream to her husband and daughter. On Tuesday morning, July 22, Mrs Holms was astounded to read of a terrible air catastrophe at Meopham, Kent, in which Lord Dufferin, Lady Ednam, Mrs Loeffler, two men and a pilot had been all been killed by falling from an airplane which broke up in the air. In her dream she had seen the fall of one of the passengers.

All six victims of the accident had fractured skulls. Dame Edith Lyttelton, a noted investigator for the Society for Psychical Research, who studied carefully the evidence given at the inquest, and reports of the accident in different newspapers, concluded that “These reports confirm that Mrs Holms had foreseen the details correctly.”

Was ever a vision proved correct in more vivid and horrifying detail?


Careful Not to Lose Your Head!

If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs… then you are a lot luckier than Josef Haydn and Oliver Cromwell. Their heads are a different tale.

A placid, patient man in life, Franz Josef Haydn, the famous composer, had a troubled existence after his death.

When he died on May 31, 1809 the new science of phrenology was being studied by people who believed that the skull reliably indicated a person’s talents and qualities. Two of the mourners at Haydn’s funeral, Johann Peter and his friend Rosenbaum, thought an examination of the composer’s head would extend their knowledge of phrenology.

The head of Oliver Cromwell

So, at dead of night, they returned to the Handstrum Cemetery in Vienna, opened the grave and removed Haydn’s head. They took it to Professor Gall, a leading exponent of the new science, so that he could take measurements. Then the skull was returned to Peter who, in homage, built a small ebony house on the lines of a Roman tomb decorated with a gilded lyre and placed the head in it on white silk draped with black velvet. The macabre reliquary was then glazed.

The headless body might have remained in its grave, separated from the skull for ever if Prince Esterhazy, patron and friend of Haydn for 50 years, had not felt that so famous a musician should have been buried, not in a public graveyard, but in his private chapel in his castle at Eisenstadt. He ordered an expensive coffin and then, busy with other affairs, forgot about his plan.

Eleven years later, the Duke of Cambridge visited Eisenstadt and in his honor the Prince arranged a performance of Haydn’s masterpiece, The Creation. The Duke was very impressed and in expressing his thanks referred to his host as one “who cherished Haydn’s friendship while he lived and his remains after death.”

A Headless Body

That reminded Esterhazy of his plan for burying Haydn’s bones on his own estate and without further delay he sent to Vienna for the body. In October 1820 the coffin was opened and to the Prince’s horror the body was headless.

The Prince, furious at such desecration, made investigations and discovered what Peter and Rosenbaum had done. Rosenbaum, who had custody of the skull, had no intention of parting with such an important relic and, pretending to agree to the Prince’s request, obtained the skill of a man named Meyer and handed that skull over instead.

Esterhazy, among his other accomplishments was a competent phrenologist and on examining the skull tossed it aside contemptuously. It was the head of a man in his fifties, while Josef Haydn had died at the age of 77.

The Prince at once returned it, demanding the real skull, but Rosenbaum was not yet beaten. He found the head of a man in his seventies, handed that over and Prince Esterhazy, satisfied that his old friend’s body was now complete, placed it with the remains exhumed in Vienna and had them reburied reverently in his own burial ground.

Soon afterward Rosenbaum died, leaving Josef Haydn’s real skull to Peter, requesting him to present it to the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna.

Josef Haydn's skull

Josef Haydn

Not until 1895 did they obtain it by an involved route. Peter’s widow gave it to a Dr Karl Haller who, in turn presented it to Dr Rokitansky, an anatomist. It remained in his care until his death when his son finally presented the much traveled skull to the society.

That organization decided to unite it with the composer’s body but war, politics and personal quarrels held up whatever efforts were planned. In 1912, 1932, and 1939 attempts were made to complete the arrangements, during which time the Josef Haydn’s skull was kept in a bank vault, still in its glass, tomb-like case.

After World War Two the old difficulties were smoothed out. Cardinal Innitzer, the 79-year-old Austrian primate, gave the skull his blessing and it was taken in a flower-decked hearse to Eisenstadt, 45 miles away. At last Franz Josef Haydn was at rest.

The Head of Oliver Cromwell

No less undignified was the fate of the head of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, who died at the age of 58, on September 3, 1658, the anniversary of two of his great battles, Dunbar and Worcester. The next day his body was embalmed and buried quietly in the chapel of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey. A public funeral was held on November 23 with an effigy of wax and wood, costing £60,000.

It remained there during the ineffectual rule of his son Richard but, with the return of the monarchy his body was dug up and with the bones of two of his supporters was taken on sledges to Tyburn amid the jeers of a great crowd who had grown to hate the narrow bigotry of life under the Roundheads.

There the three were hanged and left until evening. Then an executioner was sent to behead them and eight blows were needed before Cromwell’s head was severed from his body. By torchlight the three grinning skulls were spitted on pikes and fastened to the roof of Westminster Hall. The bodies were dumped in a pit near the gallows.

Skullduggery

For 25 years Cromwell’s skull remained there until one night it was blown down in a storm. It vanished and notices were posted in the area seeking its return. In fact it had been found by a sentry who took it home and hid it in a chimney without even telling his family.

On his deathbed he told his daughter and she eventually sold it to the Russell family of Cambridgeshire, who were related by several marriages to the Cromwells. In 1710 they sold it to a private collector named Du Puy, but by 1775 it belonged to Samuel Russell.

Samuel Russell was a comedian, often drunk and usually in debt. He often appeared at the Covent Garden Theater and paid his rent by displaying Cromwell’s head, still impaled on a pike, at two shillings and sixpence a person in Clare Market, near what is now Kingsway, London. His intemperate habits were his undoing. He had borrowed money from James Cox, a jeweler, who threatened to have him consigned to a debtor’s prison unless he paid his debts. Samuel Russell, owing £101, sold the head for £118.

Before long Cox, too, fell on hard times and in 1799 sold it to a three-man syndicate for £230. They intended exhibiting it in a showroom off Bond Street and engaged John Cranch, an artist, to publicize the exhibition with posters and handbills.

The head of Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

It was a failure. Cranch never got his fee and in 1813 one of the syndicate put the skull on public view in Fenchurch Street in the City. Twice within the next few months he tried to sell the head of Oliver Cromwell, first to the owner of a museum in Piccadilly and then to Mr R. G. Russell, MP. Neither bought it and a year later, when all three member of the syndicate had died, the skull passed to the daughter of one of them.

She sold it for an unspecified sum to Josiah Henry Wilkinson and the much traveled head of Oliver Cromwell remained in the Wilkinson family — ending up with Canon Horace Ricardo Wilkinson, of Melton Grove, Woodbridge, Suffolk.

At one time there was a rival Cromwell skull in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, but that was proved a fake as the marks of decapitation did not conform with facts as known when the head had been hacked off.

In 1935 the ‘Wilkinson Head’, as it was sometimes called, was examined by experts and pronounced genuine. Several investigators inspected it in Canon Wilkinson’s study and all agreed that there was no mistaking the reddish-brown hair and whiskers. The distinguishing wart had long since vanished, but a mark where it had once been helped to prove that the skull was without any doubt that of the Lord Protector.

Their reports led angry historians to write to The Times of London demanding that the head be interred in Westminster Abbey.

That, in turn, prompted inquiries as to the whereabouts of Oliver Cromwell’s body. Newburgh Priory, in Yorkshire, seemed a likely place, for one of its rooms was said to be the tomb of Oliver Cromwell. A metal plate there is inscribed: “In this vault are Cromwell’s remains, brought here by his daughter, Mary, Countess of Fauxconberg, at the restoration from Westminster Abbey.”

Canon Wilkinson, naturally, was keen to examine the skeleton to see if his skull, with eight marks where the headsman’s axe had been clumsily directed, fitted the torso.

The only person allowed to see inside the tomb was King Edward VII, who peered in through a specially drilled hole and announced that all he could see was a pile of dust and stones.

In 1957 Canon Wilinson died, bequeathing the head of Oliver Cromwell to his son after stating that he had no intention of leaving Cromwell’s skull to a museum on the grounds that he could “look after the head of this great man better than the State did when it was in its charge.”

Three years later the Lord Protector’s head made its last journey. It was presented to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he had once been a student. It was buried in the chapel precincts. The whereabouts of Olver Cromwell’s body, however, has not yet been established with certainty.

A Dirty Delicacy: Eating White Dirt in the South

The scientific term ‘geophagy‘ refers to the somewhat unusual act of eating dirt, or other types of earthen substances, like clay, sand or chalk. The practice of eating dirt can sometimes be related to a medical disorder known as ‘pica‘, which is a disorder caused by a mineral deficiency — sometimes iron, sometimes zinc, or sometimes other such minerals necessary to the healthy functioning of the body.

Eating White Dirt in the South

This deficiency might be caused simply by a poor diet, or it may be caused by some other underlying medical condition, such as celiac disease, or some sort of parasitic infection. But, for whatever reason the deficiency occurs, a person suffering from pica is psychologically compelled to actually ingest earthy materials. It appears to be the body’s way of attempting to persuade the individual to take in more of the missing minerals. This is likely where that old saying “Have some minerals, leave some minerals. Need some minerals, eat dirt” comes from. (So, now you know)

Besides the physiological condition of pica, there are also some psychological conditions which might compel a person to eat such types of materials. Or, free from any sort of either physiological or psychological cause, people may simply eat dirt because they like eating dirt. Which, it appears, is very often the case when it comes to a certain culinary tradition still practiced in certain parts of the American south.

Although it has been observed that the practice of eating what is commonly called ‘white dirt’ has been waning over the last number of years, it is still practiced regularly by some people — almost exclusively, however, by African American women living mostly in Georgia, but also in some other Southern states as well. And, it’s not just any old dirt they’re eating. The clear preference is for the earthen delicacy known as kaolin — a clay silicate mineral with a somewhat chalky appearance that is often used as an ingredient in porcelain ceramics, in the material used to coat the inside of incandescent light bulbs for the purposes of diffusing the light, and in a number of other industrial products.

Now, before you start thinking that the intentional eating of white dirt is just a whole bowl of crazy, it should be noted that, while there isn’t enough scientific research available to be absolutely conclusive, some real evidence nevertheless does exist to suggest that white dirt, taken in moderation, might actually have some honest-and-for-true health benefits. There is reason to believe that kaolin possesses a binding characteristic that causes it to absorb dietary toxins. Along with this, kaolin has been prescribed by medical professionals in some parts of the world to treat conditions such as stomach upset and diarrhea for quite a long time. In fact, kaolin was an original ingredient in the well-known product commonly used by a great many people to treat indigestion and other forms of digestive discomfort and ailments which goes by the brand name ‘Kaopectate.’ (Although it is used as an ingredient in that particular product no longer, having been replaced some time ago with bismuth subsalicylate)

To this very day, a trip into a number of small, independently owned, country convenience stores located throughout parts of rural Georgia and elsewhere in the south, will often reveal bins of a small, plastic baggies containing chunks of white rock for sale. This is kaolin, and the baggies of the white dirt are being sold for snacking purposes.

If you’re interested in learning more about the bizarre southern practice of eating white dirt (And, why on Earth wouldn’t you be?), which you were quite likely entirely unaware of until now, Director Adam Forrester has apparently completed a feature length documentary film entitled “Eat White Dirt” that is due to be released this coming summer. So, keep watching for it!

And, if you know of any awesomely tasty white dirt recipes, please don’t hesitate to use the comment box below in order to share them with us and other readers!


The Smalls Lighthouse Tragedy

By day as ships drew abreast of the Smalls Lighthouse, plowing their way to or from Liverpool in the Irish Sea, skippers and helmsmen waved cheerfully at the tower, sure of a friendly response from one or both of the men who tended the light.

Smalls Lighthouse Tragedy

Even in the terrible winter of 1798 when the biggest ships were tossed like corks by waves of terrific size, sailors spared a moment to greet the watchers whose vigil for the past 25 years had made their journeys safer.

But one day, when both keepers should have been safe and warm inside the tower, one man was out on the gallery. Men from a passing ship waved and wondered idly why the man on the Smalls Lighthouse did not reply. On the return journey a few nights later the light shone brightly and, silhouetted against the beam, was the man, crouching against the rail, motionless.

In port sailors remarked on the unusual behavior. Inevitably a newspaper heard of their story and published the gist of it and the authorities wondered if something strange had happened at the Smalls Lighthouse.

The light, perched on six huge baulks of timber and three iron pillars, was the first to be built on that dangerous coast. Like several other lights of the period it was built for private profit, which came from dues charged on ships that passed to and fro.

Financed by a Liverpool businessman, John Phillips, it was built by a Mr Whitesides who, to demonstrate his faith in its stability, spent the whole of the first winter tending the light in the tiny chamber.

Afterwards two men were appointed to trim the light and for years all went well. Despite its apparent flimsiness the Smalls Lighthouse withstood the fury of sea and storm surprisingly well, although the keepers had other worries.

For weeks, sometimes a month or more, they were cut off from contact with the mainland. Whitesides’ method of sending messages in bottles had already proved useless. Replies came, often from distant places, but weeks too late to be of any use. Food and fresh water supplies were apt to run low. So far the men had never run short of precious fuel for the light, but there  were other hazards — those of sickness and death.

Boats tried to reach the Smalls lighthouse with fresh supplies and a relief team, but many times had to return to port when landings proved too dangerous.

Smalls lighthouse tragedy memorabiliaIn the winter of 1798 the worst weather within living memory now struck the expanse of sea now known as ‘Area Lundy‘. The Smalls lighthouse still burned after dark, no matter how vile the weather, in blinding sleet and snow, and numerous crews saw the figure of the man, always crouching, never moving, on the gallery beneath the light — and above him flew a distress signal.

Local people offered prayers in church for the safety of the Smalls lighthouse keepers and whenever the storm had abated a boat immediately set out for the Smalls. Always they turned back to report that the man on the gallery was still there.

At last the weather changed and at once a crew set out to investigate. They came away with two men, one alive and half mad, the other dead, a three-month old corpse.

They reported what they had learned in the towers. One of the keepers had been taken ill in the early days of the storm and, despite his colleague’s efforts, had died.

The survivor then faced a terrible dilemma. Should he sew up his friend in a tarpaulin and tip him from the Smalls’ lighthouse gallery into a watery, wave-lashed grave? If he did so he might easily be accused of murder and, in the absence of the body, be sentenced to death. There was only one way to avoid suspicion and possibly the gallows; lash the dead man to the gallery so that all passing ships could see him.

That was the macabre asnwer to the mystery. For weeks, the lonely survivor, growing steadily more demented, shared the tower with a corpse.

The corpse that, to passing ships, seemed exactly like a stalwart and conscientious lighthouse keeper, forever crouched by the isolated light he refused to leave.

Hetty Green – The Witch of Wall Street

Hetty Green was known and feared as the richest woman in the world. She could afford every luxury. Yet she was too mean to wash her underclothes! Although a fabulously wealthy woman, Mrs Henrietta ‘Hetty’ Howland Green cared little about her personal appearance and on her daily visits to Wall Street gave the impression of poverty by her dress.

Hatty Green - The Witch of Wall Street (Old & Young photos)

No beggar, no scarecrow, was ever as shabbily dressed as Mrs Hetty Green, variously known as ‘The Meanest Woman in the World’ and ‘The Witch of Wall Street’.

Worth millions of dollars, Hetty Green was a difficult woman to find. She flitted from one cheap boarding house to another to avoid paying taxes. She was well known at every New York hospital and clinic, for ever pleading for free treatment for her son’s injured leg. Although she doted on him Hetty Green could not bring herself to pay doctor’s bills and her son lost his leg because of her miserliness.

At times she could be found in the vaults of the Chemical and National Bank of New York, squatting on the stone floor, wearing a dress for which she had paid 50 cents. As she sat there, clipping dividend coupons and stuffing them in a shabby handbag and chewing a raw onion she was unaware of the odd sight she presented.

But no one laughed or smiled. For Hetty Green was the woman who deliberately ruined her husband, architect of her early rise to wealth, because he had acted against her advice in buying railroad shares. And, to emphasize that she was not to be trifled with she had ruined the bank on whose advice she had acted for 15 years. They had confused her money with her husband’s, so she switched her millions to another firm knowing full well what would happen.

Miserliness was in Hetty Green’s blood. Her wealthy father once refused the offer of an expensive cigar in case he liked it and lost his taste for cheaper brands. As a child the only family topic discussed in her hearing was money and finance.

The first signs of her meanness were noticed at her 21st birthday party. Hetty brought the proceedings to a hasty conclusion by blowing out the candles on the cake when they were still big enough to be resold to the grocer.

In 1860 she went to live with an aunt, Sylvia Howland, actuated by greed more than concern for the old lady’s welfare.

Sylvia Howland’s husband had left a fortune which Hetty expected would come to her. At he reading of the will Hetty was horrified at the long list of charitable bequests to widows and orphans left destitute in shipping disasters for which Howland had paid no compensation.

Hetty Green was left the income from a bequest of $100,000.00 yet she spent years trying to block payment of the charitable bequests. Their money, she argued, should have been left to her.

Hetty Green - The meanest woman in the worldAlmost at once she began nagging Aunt Sylvia to economize in housekeeping and asking for money. The lady Howland agreed to get some respite from her niece’s persistence and even, made a will in Hetty’s favor. When it was read, however, Hetty Green learned that she had been outsmarted. Sylvia had inserted extra codicils and Hetty’s share was quite small. Seething with fury, she then sued for everything her aunt had left, producing documents purporting to prove that Hetty was entitled to the lot. Experts, however, were able to prove that Hetty Green had forged the documents and Hetty, then faced with charges of fraud, forgery and perjury, withdrew her case. Yet she won in the end by blocking all attempts at paying other beneficiaries until all had died.

A few years later she married Edward H. Green a millionaire, and her real meanness began when their son was born. Hetty swore to make him the richest man in the world and from that day never willingly spent a cent. To save money she only had the hems of her underclothes washed as they were the only parts seen. When her daughter went to school she stuffed the child’s ears with cotton wool so she could not hear the remarks passed about her old clothes.

Meanwhile, the Greens’ joint fortunes grew, but Edward’s confidence in his own judgment eventually induced him to buy some speculative shares and several times Hetty helped him out of tight corners, until he did it once too often and she stripped him of his wealth and brought down his banker with him. In that year Edward told the tax authorities that his only assets were a gold watch and six dollars in cash.

Hetty Greens’ wealth, however, had greatly increased when her aunt’s will was proved at last and she collected most of her fortune. Then she was known as the richest woman in America — and widely hated as the meanest.

She lost no opportunity of spiting anyone she imagined had impeded her quest for riches. With threats and a series of legal actions she brought about the death of the man appointed executor of her uncle’s will. Hetty Green always accused him of favoring other beneficiaries at her expense.

Offended by the decisions Judge Collins had sometimes given against her, she deliberately compelled people, who dared not refuse, to withhold their support when they would have voted for him. Invariably Collins was passed over for promotion.

Even when her daughter married once of the Astors her way did not change. She even started economizing by writing cheques on scraps of paper instead of using proper bank forms.

With the onset of old age she did not mellow but did seem to become less wary. Once she lent $800,000.00 to a reckless speculator named Payne, believing he was Harry Payne Whitney, the millionaire. Fortunately for her peace of mind the loan was repaid on time.

Her dividend coupons were left unclipped. She forgot to collect or claim interest. She mislaid important documents, yet her bankers dared not complain in case they became victims of her spite.

Hetty Green — Drink Talks

In July of 1910 she agreed to place all affairs in the capable hands of her son, Ned, and still living in squalor, was rescued by an old friend, Countess Annie Leary. She took Hetty into her own home and for the first time since girlhood the richest woman in the world lived in comfort and ate satisfying meals. The most pleasing feature to Hetty Green, of course, was that it was all at her friend’s expense. Even so, Hetty Green was appalled at the cost of it all and, though she enjoyed her new surroundings, never once ceased assuring her friend that the luxuries they both enjoyed would condemn her to the poorhouse.

One day Countess Leary’s cook, under the influence of Dutch courage, tired of Hetty Green’s niggling, talked back to her and even out-swore her. That was a new experience to Hetty whose wealth had always assured her of respect. She bottled up her indignation and that, said her doctor, brought on a stroke.

She had other strokes and nurses were engaged to look after her. Countess Leary, well aware of her guest’s ways, knew that Hetty Green would be outraged by such extravagance and persuaded them to masquerade as ordinary servants.

Hetty Green died on July 3, 1916, aged 81. Ten years passed before the full extent of her estate could be calculated. Eventually it was proved at more than $100 million and included 8,000 plots of land. Both New York and New Jersey tried hard to collect taxes on Hetty Green’s fortune but the Witch of Wall Street had the last laugh as usual.

Her policy of never having a house of her own paid off. The courts decided that she was a resident in the state of Vermont which managed to collect $52,000. Hetty Green would have undoubtedly been grieved about that.