Thursday, 16 May 2019
On Maundy Thursday, 1899, the ferry, S.S. Stella departed Southampton with 190 passengers and crew, bound for the Channel Islands. They never arrived. Just after 4 p.m., in a heavy fog, it hit the Casquets Rocks. Within ten minutes, it went down, taking at least 77 persons with it. But one man was not present, for he had been forewarned by The Voice in the night.
Tuesday, 9 April 2019
It is, of course, well established that the Great Witch Craze of the 16th and 17th centuries, stretching even into the 18th, represented a resurgence of pre-Christian superstitions. They had once been ignored and mocked, but were now being taken seriously. However, I didn't realise just how ancient these beliefs were until I reread Apuleius' second century novel, The Golden Ass. There, the author describes how he watched a Thessalian witch strip naked, rub herself with a magic ointment, and promptly turn into an owl. That was very similar to what witches were accused of doing 13 or 14 centuries later! Some were even trying it out themselves!
Monday, 11 February 2019
In 1936 a certain Mr. Lampeter wrote to John O'London's Weekly asking, in effect, whether anyone had seen fairies, because his area of Wales a number of people had claimed to have done so. Funny about that! For the next few months the magazine found itself publishing letters from people who claimed the experience. If you are interested, you can read them here (PDF 158 KB). Similarly, in 1989 Ron Quinn wrote in a weekly paper in upstate New York about his encounter with a little man in 1942, and gave them his name and address. He asked if anybody had had a similar experience. Funny about that! As you have probably guessed by now, over the coming weeks, dozens of letters arrived in his box.
Tuesday, 20 November 2018
"The love of money", said Phocylides, "is the mother of all evils" - a maxim which was to become proverbial in the ancient world, being changed to the "metropolis of all evils" by Democritus, and the "root of all evils" by St. Paul.
Greed for money and, as we shall see, for power can be a strong solvent of a person's morality. Thirty pieces of silver was enough to buy Judas Iscariot's treachery, and a long list could be made of those who turned traitor for the sake for pay. Greed can also dissolve the critical faculty. No-one would possibly fall for the Nigerian scam, for instance, if the prospect of enormous riches hadn't blinded him to the extreme improbability of the proposal. However, it takes a massive combination of baseness and stupidity to fall for a project which is both evil and utterly ridiculous, and one can must grant a certain grudging respect to a con artist who realised it would actually work.
Sunday, 12 August 2018
Overlooked books are often sources of anomalies which are easily lost to our collective memory. Thus, a couple of Sundays ago, a friend of mine called Trevor casually referred to what he labelled the "leprechauns" of South America. Readers of this blog will be aware that I no longer automatically scoff at such stories. (Why, this time last year I was translating newspaper articles about a plague of goblins in Argentina.) Trevor mentioned how they had been seen by Brian Fawcett (1906-1984), the younger son of the explorer, Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in the Amazon jungle, almost certainly murdered by Indians, while searching for the Lost City of Z. Now, Trevor has provided extracts from Brian Fawcett's 1958 book, Ruins in the Sky, relating to his time working on the Peruvian railways, and the events took place near what was then the highest railway station in the world. The relevant extract is from pages 65 and 66.
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
God, gold, and glory should have been the motto of the Spanish conquistadors. Possessed of an inordinate greed for wealth and power, combined with a hypocritical, but nevertheless sincere, religious zeal, they cut a swathe of cruelty and plunder through Central and South America. In the pursuit of these goals they were prepared to endure any hardship, and face any odds. Though their crimes were execrable, their deeds were nevertheless some of the most heroic ever recorded. This story is about the Massacre at Acoma in January 1599, but more particularly some very strange incidents at its climax.
Friday, 11 May 2018
I regard the paranormal as a big jigsaw puzzle, of which most of the pieces are missing, and the major aim of this blog is to collect and present some of those pieces which are in danger of being overlooked or lost. For this reason, I do not normally report items which have appeared on somebody else's website. Nevertheless, I make an exception when the item is quite at variance with the normal theme of the website, and is in danger of being lost among the other details. Thus, the story of the psychics of Ape Canyon came from the Bigfoot Encounters website. Likewise, the tale of the miniature flying cyclist was discovered in the Castle of Spirits website, which contains literally hundreds of first hand testimonies of ghostly encounters. Nevertheless, a few of them are not what you might call run-of-the-mill ghost stories. Let's have a look at a few.