Tuesday December 23, 2014
Merry Christmas to all our readers who will be celebrating on the 24th/25th with probably too much food and in some cases, probably too much family, we hope it is a safe and at least partly sane holiday for you.
I really really want to see the woman that this week’s article describes as “fall-down-and-get-in-the-way-sized woman”. There are several articles written about the medium, Mr. Archer. It seems he was quite the con artist although his “defense” was an ailing wife in an out of town hospital. It also seems he had no issues cross dressing. He definitely could have used a few lessons from modern day paranormal illusionist Aiden Sinclair, who is absolutely fantastic at facilitating Victorian Seances.
Chicago Daily Tribune edition 02/22/1892
“SPOOKS” IN A RAID
Harry Archer’s Séance Interrupted by Reporters
A FIGHT WITH “SHADES”
The Medium Captured in a Picturesque Costume
IN THE GUISE OF “ALICE”
Two Spiritmakers Get a Ride in a Patrol Wagon
HOW GHOSTS WERE MATERIALIZED
Three reporters for THE TRIBUNE exposed a “spook séance” last night. They captured Harry Archer, an alleged materializing medium, at No. 229 Washington boulevard, while he was in the act of impersonating a female shade called “Alice.” One reporter grabbed the entrancing, white-robed form, threw it violently to the ground, and the held on with a grip grim death is said to use in retaining departed Africans. A lively fight, free for all and nobody barred, occupied the next two minutes, but the journalistic exponents of the many art, aided by Detectives John Elliott and Thomas McClain, proved winners, and Archer and his confederate, Willie Cole, were given a ride in a patrol wagon to the Desplaines Street Station. They were locked up, two warrants having been sworn out against each by a reporter charging them with obtaining money under false pretenses and with giving a public entertainment without having a city license.
Archer’s costume as he stood before the lock-up keeper and answered questions was somewhat picturesque. It consisted of a plug hat, a short black overcoat, a pair of black trousers, and a long white nightshirt. When grappled he was minus the overcoat and hat, wore a long white veil of gossamer, and a wig of golden hair, beautifully banged in front and falling in luxuriant tresses over his shoulder. The tan slippers had been removed, because on previous occasions they had proved a little squeaky, and squeaky footgear detracts somewhat from the ethereal character of visitants from the other world. Archer struggled violently to rid himself of the paraphernalia, but his efforts were fruitless.
What a Torch Revealed
When a torch was flashed into the cabinet a strange and yet not exactly unexpected sight was revealed. In one corner was some of Mr. Archer’s clothing. Scattered around upon the floor in plentiful profusion were blonde wigs and brunette wigs, white whiskers and black whiskers – in fact, hirsute appendages of every size, color, and style imaginable. Nearly a dozen yards of gauze and gossamer, cut in various lengths, were hung upon the sides of the cabinet by pins, and in a corner was another pile of the same material.
The most important capture was a long rob Archer wears as “Belshazzer, of the Magi.” This apparition is the crowning glory of archer’s manifestations. The room is intensely dark when “Bal” appears, and he wears a robe which shines with an ethereal light. Rings of glimmering light mark ancient symbols and triangles; crosses and Arabic designs glow as though with phosphorescent light. This wonderful robe, smelling strongly of luminous paint, was fished out from behind the rear of the cabinet. It was of plain, ordinary muslin, with a string to fasten it around Archer’s neck. The smell had not led the imagination astray. It was luminous paint, sure enough, and lots of it.
Spirit rappings have not been made a specialty by Mr. Archer, but every once in a while some one in the circle would ask a question and the spirits would answer by raps. The “rapping” machine was discovered when the cabinet, which, by the way, was formed by the stretching of curtains at angles across one corner of the room, was torn down. It was a piece of iron hung by a string, which Archer pulled whenever the spirits wanted to answer a question.
Excitement After the Expose
The excitement following the expose was intense. A number of prominent Spiritualists, among them Dr. Joseph H. Greer and his sons, applauded the expose and denounced in vigorous terms the fraud imposed. A dozen gave their names, and expressed themselves as being willing to appear at the Desplaines Street Station in the morning and testify. The cases will be vigorously prosecuted, and additional warrants will be sworn out this morning.
The séance was held in the rear room of the flat occupied by Archer at No. 220 Washington boulevard. The room is 18 feet long by 12 broad, and is divided from the front parlor by sliding doors. Ordinarily these doors are closed, but when two of the reporters arrived last night at 8 o’clock both the doors were thrown wide open to admit the people. Before the commencement of the séance one of Archer’s henchmen got up to close the sliding doors – the righthand door was rather stiff – and a reporter got up to help. This particular reporter has been abundantly blessed with height and strength, and one well-meant lift of his put the door hopelessly out of gear. Close it would not, and the door perforce had to be left open.
By this time fully twenty-five persons had gathered in the rooms and the circle was widened out to the utmost stretch of the inner room. Still all the people could not be seated, and a back row was formed. Then Archer played a good card. He gathered up two chairs and placed them squarely in front of the two reporters, and in these chairs placed a well-built man and a fall-down-and-get-in-the-way-sized woman. Mr. Archer was decidedly shy of the bigger reporter and had him well guarded back and front. The other newspaper-man found himself placed next to an ardent admirer of Archer, who, when the word was given to join hands, clasped the reporter’s left hand with a firm “you-don’t-get-away-from-me” clasp.
Then the séance opened. The lights were turned out in both rooms, the only light being that given by a small lamp inclosed in a box and situated high on the wall, the sliding screen of the lamp being operated by a string reaching back into the cabinet. The cabinet itself was the usual curtain and string arrangement stretched across a corner.
A Collection Taken Up
Before Archer entered the cabinet a collection of $1 a head was taken up. Archer made his usual little speech with an important addendum. He said: “There are several kinds of spiritual appearances – for instance, that known as etherealization, when the spirit appears vague and indistinct. Then there is materialization, when the spirit appears in actual bodily form. Sometimes, but only when the circle is inharmonious, the medium himself is clothed and brought forth by the spirits, his face altered and his personality changed.”
At this moment the doorbell rang and an attendant went to the door. There was a short palaver, and then Archer himself was called out. He came back in a few moments and said a stranger had sought admission; that he had refused him as the circle was full, and that he suspected the applicant of being a police officer in disguise. Then Archer went on to say: “I am constantly ready for any disturbance. I am not a new medium. I am well protected personally, and I never enter the cabinet unless I am sure of being well guarded. I am always ready for trouble, thought I do not anticipate any. I am always glad to see strangers, even when they are not believers, provided they come in an honest, well-intentioned way.”
Then the medium entered the cabinet and the séance proceeded. The strains of a wheezy organ villainously played were productive of a gauzy spook who wavered a moment and retired into the cabinet without announcing its mission. More playing, more singing, more “spooks.”
His suspicions lulled by the reporters’ tuneful signing, the man who had closely guarded his left hand released his grasp a bit. The reporter drew his hand away as though to reach his handkerchief and then replaced his hand squarely on top of his neighbor’s thus gaining the upper hand.
Several spirits sough relatives, but the spirits where pretty shy last night and refused to come far from the cabinet. Time and again the reporters tried to entice a beauteous spirit to intrust her soft hand to their keeping, but the spooks preferred to keep their distance, and the reporters were well night in despair when “Alice” made her appearance.
Now Alice is a particular friend of the reporter who planned the raid. She is supposed to be the spirit of his sister. The reporter never had a sister, but that is apart. Shyly Alice advanced into the room. With words of endearment on his lips the reporter rose and held out his hands beseechingly to “Alice.” Alice trustingly placed her hand in his, and the next moment was grabbed by the neck and the waist and was adroitly laid on the floor.
The “Spook” Upon the Floor
It may be said that the reporter who made the chief capture is small of stature and doesn’t weigh 140 pounds, whilst Archer is a man with the physique of a prize-fighter and weighs a good 200.
When Archer was seized the two other reporters rose, the taller one to light the lamp the other to aid his brother reporter.
“Light!” he shouted, as he ungallantly climbed over the woman in front of him and got slugged in the neck by his next door neighbor. It seemed a long time before the light of the celebrated TRIBUNE spook-catcher flared out.
Then the circle saw a sight. In the corner lay the medium, with his wig over his eyes and his clothing half off, locked in the arms of a reporter. Two of Archer’s sluggers were pounding and kicking him, but the second reporter made a diversion. One slugger went to “sleep” for a minute or two and the other left via the window.
With the cry for light, one of the reporters sprang over the inner circle and lighted a prepared torch made of matches attached to a pine stick covered with resin. Cole attempted to grapple with the torch bearer, but was brushed aside, and the great center lamp was lighted. But hardly had the torch touched the wick when Cole struck the lamp and it was extinguished in a shower of broken glass. Again, Cole grabbed for the still burning torch, but the third reporter present gathered Cole into himself and left him in the corner, where he came to shortly after the illumination was complete. Throughout the double rooms pandemonium reigned. Two women had fainted in the center of the circle, and several of the faithful were piled in the mass above the form of the struggling medium. Shriek followed shriek, but over all could be heard the voice of the reporter confiding to Archer the fact that he had him strongly reinforced by Officer Elliot’s plea to get up as he slipped the “come-alongs” on Archer’s wrist and pulled him up from the floor.
The women who had fainted were quickly removed to an adjoining chamber and the crowd gathered around the dematerialized spook and his confederate.
An Intensely Exciting Scene
When Cole struck the lighted kerosene lamp only the narrowest accident prevented an explosion. Another blow would have landed the lighted lamp in the center of the crowded circle and added the horror of fire to the general confusion.
“Good! Good! I’m glad of it. The infernal imposter!” cried Dr. Joseph H. Greer of No. 127 La Salle street, a Spiritualist who had attended the meeting with his two sons, when he saw Archer standing under the light with his wig and gauze garments in sad disorder. “Give us our money back, you impostor,” cried Dr. Freer, as, followed by a dozen of those present, he advanced towards the half-clad medium. But the officers from Deplaines street with the patrol-wagon had arrived and the room was speedily cleared.
Officer McClain, who was detailed with Elliot to make the arrest of the spooks “to be pointed out,” was refused admittance to the séance when he arrived. The circle was complete, he was told, and no persuasion would avail. The officer had been pacing expectantly before the darkened house for half an hour, when suddenly he saw a blaze of light, heard the confusion, and as he sprang up the steps met one of the confederates in midair dropping from the window nearest the hallway. The officer arrived in the nick of time and lent valuable assistance in securing the prisoners and their spook garments.
Outside the doorway a band of circlers still lingered and cheered the officers and reporters, with attendant spooks, as the patrol wagon clattered down Washington boulevard. Arriving at the station, the prisoners were booked and searched.
Twenty-three dollars in one dollar bills and silver was found in Cole’s pocket, the same being the $23 contributed by the twenty-three circlers, officers and reporters included. Archer attempted to secure bail, but the faithful had deserted him.
A piece of phosphorus, spectacles, twine, and a number of small articles were found in the pocket of Archer’s robe.
“I intended to quit this business months ago,” said Archer before he was locked up. “I always feared something of this kind would happen and if it had not been for the sake of my sick wife in Grand Rapids and the money she needed at the hospital there I never would have started a spook factory in Chicago.”
Tuesday December 16, 2014
I don’t know what bothers me more about this week’s article. The fact that the Higgins woman employed diva drama by manifesting murderous techniques for her child, or the fact that the judge allowed that poor janitor to be used as a rag to wipe up the basement floor. This guy (the janitor) must have been a closet masochist considering he KEPT doing things to get beat up. Did anyone picture this man, while reading about the largeness and athleticism of Mr. McCullough? No? But this is the epitome of an athletic man in 1912!!
Chicago Tribune edition 12/01/1912
THE BABY GHOST
That Haunts The Wicked Landlord
HANNIBAL residential apartments, one of the finest and most exclusive apartments on the Riverside drive district of Upper New York, is experiencing a ghost scare. Standing at the curve near the corner of the drive where it sweeps along the Hudson in great curves, in the midst of perhaps one of the finest apartment building districts of the entire city, the magnificent Hannibal apartments are going begging for tenants. With the hundreds of thousands seeking homes, with rentals advancing at all points, and waiting lists growing longer for apartments in the better buildings, the Hannibal, even with reduced rents, is unfilled and begging for tenants.
The condition has existed for more than seven months, and in spite of the efforts of the owners and the agents to hide the facts, the strangest ghost story of the decade has been circulated among the tenants, has spread through the neighborhood and reached the ears of prospective renters. It has driven away servants and janitors, which is a nice distinction in upper New York.
The Hannibal apartments are haunted by the ghost of a baby. It sounds incredible that a seven story apartment building, with forty apartments, a building in which no children have ever been permitted, should gain such a reputation. Yet so among the neighbors, either on the drive or along One Hundred and Fifty-eighth, One Hundred and Fifty-ninth, and One Hundred and Sixtieth streets, and even a block or more toward the top of the hill, and the story of the ghost baby will be told.
Owner Said, “No Children.”
There are s coffers, of course, for few persons in these days of realism believe in spirits; but there are those who shiver when the ghost baby is mentioned, and many more who merely shake their heads and admit that there is something strange and inexplicable about it. The agents, the manager, the janitor, and all the others scoff at the idea of ghosts, yet offer the apartments at a rental, on an average, of nearly $10 a month lower than they asked a year ago, offer to redecorate, never argue against more steam, or fuss when tenants demand new shades or more lights.
Of course there isn’t any such a thing as a ghost – and, if there were such things, a baby ghost – But to facts.
The Hannibal apartments were completed about three years ago. They are seven stories tall, and contain forty apartments of two, three, four, and five rooms, besides the basement apartments occupied by the janitor. The first rule of the owner was “No children.” The rentals were high, as the district is a choice one and the view of the Hudson and the curving drive is magnificent. There is a little park down along the riverside, where the children may play and where the young couples may sit and look over at the Pallisades.
The apartments were filled almost as soon as completed, and there soon was a waiting list of applicants. There are scores of such great apartments that have sprung up in the last six years, and the Hannibal merely was a type of the better class and more select. A little more than a year ago there came to New York from Oneida a young couple, Leroy Higgins and his wife. Higgins had secured a position in New York. It happened also that among his acquaintances was one John Townsend, who, with his wife, had possession of a four room apartment on the fifth floor west of the Hannibal apartments. The Higginses went to live at a family hotel on the heights in Brooklyn while looking for a place of abode. About that time Townsend’s firm transferred him from the New York to the Chicago office, a promotion. Townsend was eager to sublet his apartment, and it was arranged that Higgins take it. The arrangement was carried out.
Complications set in within a few days, when the janitor received a complaint that the Higgins family had a baby. Just who complained is uncertain. Of course, all those in the adjoining and nearby flats denied it. The women thought the Higgins baby the cutest, most adorable, most wonderful baby in the world. They cuddled and kissed him, and told his mother how they envied her, so, of course, it could not have been one of them. But, anyhow, the janitor ascended one morning when Mrs. Higgins was giving little John his bath, rapped in lordly fashion, and in awful tones accused her of harboring an infant. The mother admitted it. The janitor sternly informed her that she was transgressing the law, disrupting the peace, disturbing the quiet, and damaging the reputation of the apartments, and that she would have to get out. She protested and showed her lease. She demanded sarcastically whether the janitor wanted her to throw the baby out the window or take it down to the Hudson and drown it. He replied that he didn’t care which – but that the baby had to go. Mrs. Higgins grew indignant, then she grew angry, then she wept, and finally she called her husband and sobbed hysterical messages that brought him hurrying homeward.
It was alleged in police court next morning that Higgins wiped up the boiler room floor with the janitor, cracked his head against the boiler, and otherwise maltreated him. The judge was sympathetic. He let Higgins off with the costs, but ordered him to keep the peace. But there was no peach to keep. The condition continued for two weeks, then the lease was canceled and the Higgins family emigrated.
Baby Heard Crying in Night
The incident almost had been forgotten when one morning shortly after 2 o’clock the petulant cry of an infant sounded through the fifth floor. It was heard also on the fourth and sixth floors, and, oddly enough, on the first floor. Just what night the first cry was heard is uncertain. Some of those who were tenants then declare they heard the crying several nights before any one else spoke to them about it. Evidently no one cared to be the first to mention the fact that they heard a baby crying. Perhaps it was a week before the whisper went through the building that another baby was living in the apartments, in violation of the rules. In a short time it became the custom of the men, meeting in the elevator in the morning, to ask each other if the baby’s crying kept them awake. The women, after cautiously reassuring themselves that they were not addressing the mother, inquired.
Ghost Baby Story Circulated
For more than three weeks the plaintive wail of a young baby was heard every night. Sometimes it was near 1 o’clock, sometimes as late as 4 a.m., never before midnight nor after 4 in the morning. The janitor, sleuthing through the building, tried in vain to locate the cry. He lost sleep and he lost his temper.
A young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fred McCulloch, had taken the apartment vacated by the Higgins family after the baby episode. They had lived there only two months. Late in July, one hot night, the wailing of the baby was heard. The janitor, slipping from floor to floor noiselessly, listened at every door. He reached the door of the west front apartment on the fifth floor. The sound to come from within. He pressed his ear against the door and listened until he was certain. Then he beat noisily upon the door. McCulloch, in his pajamas, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, opened the door. The janitor angrily accused him of having a baby in the apartment, and demanded to know whether or not he knew he was violating the rules.
It happens that Mr. McCulloch is large and athletic. He replied with a straight right to the nose and followed it with a left hook, then proceeded to kick the janitor down the hallway, informing him between kicks that they only had been married four months.
That encounter brought several other tenants to the hallway, and it served to help circulate the story of the ghost baby. The gossip spread. Every tenant in the building admitted hearing a baby crying somewhere. Some said it was in one flat, some declared it seemed to come from the elevator shaft, others avowed that at times it seemed as if the baby were crying in a closet of their own apartments. Mrs. McCulloch grew nervous, and they canceled their lease and moved. The janitor spent many nights hunting the baby – and without success. Twice he accused tenants of harboring it, and declared he heard the crying inside their apartments.
Detective Is Employed
Then came the rumor, which was not substantiated, that the Higgins baby had died shortly after leaving the apartments, and that he cause of death was cold contracted by morning into a new home after being ejected from the Hannibal. The story that the Hannibal was haunted by a baby ghost spread through the entire neighborhood. The tenants commenced to leave. The janitor, after a long search, became so frightened that he quit. The worried agents employed a detective to discover the cause of the mysterious wailing, and the detective spent every night for three weeks in a vain endeavor to locate the noise. He heard it, he says, on the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh floors.
The yarn of the ghost baby was hurting the value of the property, and the agents made desperate efforts to solve it. They offered a reward. They charged that some one, out of revenge, was playing a joke on them. They even accused one couple, acquaintance of the Higgins family, of abetting the plot, which they denied.
Phonograph Record Blamed
The detective evolved a theory that some one, unknown, had caused a phonograph record to be made of a bay’s crying, and was setting it off to annoy other tenants or possibly to revenge the Higgins family’s wrongs. The agents searched the building. Only two phonographs were owned, and their possessors showed all their records and declared the idea ridiculous.
In October the crying baby ceased suddenly and was not heard for more than two weeks. The detective was summoned again, and traced every one in the building, to see whether any one had been away during that period. No one had. The crying recommenced then, and has been going on almost every night since.
And thus far no one has been able to explain. The managing owner of the building declares that after Jan. 1 he intends to change the rules so as to permit babies to live in the flats. Whether he things they will drown out the wailings of the ghost baby, or whether he thinks to propitiate the ghost – or the joker – he does not say.
Tuesday December 9, 2014
I had absolutely NO idea when I started reading this week’s article that I would be educated on not only banshees but stripping witch ghosts!! It IS interesting to see how they link increased spook sightings with the effects of WWI AND managed to make comparisons to Caesar . I will definitely be adding the stripping ghosts to my list of “must experience before I become a spook myself”, I will have to know how to do this right?
San Francisco Chronicle edition 08/20/1916
ALL ENGLAND’S FAMOUS OLD GHOSTS RETURNING
Family Phantoms Have Suddenly Returned, Throwing Some of Britain’s Most Famous Homes Into Panic. “There Is Nothing Unusual in This in Times of Great National Stress,” Says Famous Authority on History of Supernatural Beliefs
By TOM PEETE CROSS, PH.D.
(Authority upon the history of supernatural beliefs)
SUPERSTITION, that hydra-headed daughter of error, lives a charmed life. Unthinking faith in signs and omens yields but slowly to education and general enlightenment, and a season of mental stress like the present when men feel so strongly that they forget to reason is all that is needed to call back to life many beliefs which all but the most ignorant are supposed to have abandoned. The human mind, laboring under high tension, tortured with suspense and toyed with by the alternating emotions of hope and fear, joy and despair, is particularly likely to be subject to the supernatural beliefs which either tradition or current whispers place about it.
This face, too well known and too often recognized to be a matter of question, is brought to light by the reports of an outbreak of ghost scares in the British Isles. No one can surmise upon the sincerity and truthfulness of these rumors, but their presence is proof enough that the mental tension produced by the war has brought old and ignorant superstitions to light.
Castles Famous for Ghosts
Whenever humanity is cursed with earthquake, pestilence, war or other universal calamity, there are prophets of evil who, wise after the fact, can cite prologues to the omen coming on.
We sometimes hear bad weather or poor crops attributed to the present European war, and a report from Ireland has it that the death of King Edward VII was presaged by the appearance of a mermaid on the coast of Ireland.
The castles and hereditary estates of the British Isles are famous for their ghosts, and their owners cherish the wraiths with pride. English literature testifies to the degree with which these apparitions influence the imaginations of the last two generations of readers. Dickens put ghost lore of these manor houses into several of his novels, “The Ghost Walk” in “Bleak House” being perhaps the best example of the point in question.
Apparition there for Centuries
Raynham Hall, in Norfolk County, England, the ancestral seat of the Townshend family, shares with many other British castles the honor of being haunted by a hereditary ghost. For centuries the apparition has howled around its gloomy walls before every birth or death in the Townshend line. It is said to have appeared before the death of Thomas Sutherst Esq., a noted London barrister, and who was the father of the present Marchioness of Townshend and who was drowned on the Lusitania.
Last winter, when General Townshend, the brother of the marquess, was surrounded by the enemy at Kut-el-Amara and forced to surrender, the ancient ghost poured forth its lamentations, and when, on May 20 of the present year, the birth of an heir to the Townshend estate deprived the general of the hope of succession, wailings were again heard.
Some families are plagued by a haunting apparition of a less friendly character. It may be the ghost of a person wronged or murdered who returns to laugh with fiendish delight at the impending doom of its victim, or, like Hamlet’s father, to seek vengeance for the wrongs it has suffered. A ghost of this kind is said to be connected with the Manor of Manningham, the residence of the Earl of Orford.
According to tradition, the second earl during the sixteenth century burned the house and church belonging to the neighboring family of Scalmers. Since that time one of the ladies of the Scalmer family is seen riding about dusk in a phantom barouche drawn by ghostly horses through the Orford estate just before some important event in the life of the family. Seven years ago the phantom chariot appeared before the death of Lady Orford, and again, a few weeks since, before the marriage of the earl’s daughter.
The ghost of the Walpole family, near neighbors of the Orfords, is said to have been seen around the burying ground and old church on the estate. This apparition takes the form of a maiden in white, who foretells impending doom by promenading slowly and solemnly about the grounds. When observed or approached she deftly casts aside her garments and, following the example of witches, disappears in the air on a broomstick. No reports as yet have contained any fulfillment of doom upon the Walpole family, and the only significance of the story is that it illustrates the sudden prevalence of these old beliefs at this time.
Ireland Always Had Ghosts
Ireland in war time has always seen ghosts in greater profusion than in peaceful periods. It has always been rich in stories of weird maidens who appeared before great battles and foretold disaster or predicted other misfortunes of a personal or national character. At present Ireland is said to be beholding most of its old ghosts and to be visited by great quantities of ancestral banshees.
It is said that at one time every family in Ireland had its own banshee, a white-robed female of ghostly appearance, whose dolorous wailings announced disaster, but in historic times these uncanny visitants have generally been associated with particular families, usually of noble descent. One of the most impressive passages in ancient Irish tradition tells how just before Medb’s ill-fated military campaign against Ulster a woman of unearthly beauty appeared to the dissolute Queen of Connaught, and in language, which even in after centuries gives the reader an uneasy sensation, foretold the slaughter of her army in the great cattle raid of Cooley.
As the great Cachulainn, the Schilles of Ireland’s great epic, rides forth in his war chariot to his last battle he saw at a ford a beautiful yellow-haired maiden, who in great grief and tribulation washed bloody spoils in the waters of the stream, and he knew that she was the battle goddess foretelling his death. Another ancient Irish sage describes in vivid language the appearance of the Badb to Prince Cornac Conlonges just before his death in the massacre of Da Choca’s Hostel. As the prince and the retinue approached the Shannon River at Athlone “they saw a red woman on the edge of the ford washing her chariot and its cushions and its harness. When she lowered her hand the bed of the river became red with gore. When she raised her hand over the river’s edge not a drop therein but was lifted on high.” When asked her purpose, she replied: “I wash the harness of a king who will perish.”
Banshee Warned Noted Chief
During the period of national unrest immediately preceding the great battle of Clontarf (1014), when Ireland broke the Scandinavian power under which she had so long groaned, the overwrought minds of the people conjured up many omens. It is recorded that during the battle while the plain of Clontarf, where no clatters the electric tram to Howth, ran red with blood and the aged Brian Boru was urged to retire from the fight, the old warrior proudly replied: “Retreat becomes us not, and I know that I shall not leave this place alive, for Evil of Cragles (a well-known banshee) appeared to me last night and told me that I should be killed this day.” On the way to the same battle the Dalcassian hero, Dooling O’Hartigan, was met by the guardian spirit of his family and warned that if he went he should be slain. Though she promised him pleasure and long life if he obeyed her behest, he replied that nothing could induce him to abandon his friend in the day of battle, and so he went to his death. A grewsome apparition of supernatural hags to a Scandinavian chieftain who sought to hold Ireland under the thralldom of the Lochlannach has been splendidly described by Thomas Gray in “Fatal Sisters.” The fatal sisters wore a fabric of human entrails while chanting a song foretelling the warrior’s doom. At a later period the McCarthys, the O’Carras and other prominent Irish families had each its banshee, who with doleful wailings foretold impending disaster. The following account was sent to O’Donovan by a friend belonging to the Irish aristocracy: “In November, 1820, when I was in attendance on a near and dear relative’s deathbed in an old castle in the county of Westmeath, I heard a most extraordinary sound resembling that of an Aeolian harp, but also having a strong similitude to the human voice, it was more nearly allied to singing than to instrumental music. Had I been superstitious I should have considered it to be the song or wail of the banshee.”
Shakespeare Immortalized Spirits
An appearance of a somewhat different character is associated with the famous battle of Calloden (April 16, 1746), which sealed the doom of Charles Edward, the last of the Stuarts, and destroyed forever the old free wild life of Scottish highlanders. Thomas Campbell in his stirring poem on “Lochiel’s Warning” tells of how the chief of clan Cameron, while on his way to join the forces of the pretender, was suddenly confronted by the ancient wizard who y the power of “second sight” is able to see the down fall of the Scottish forces at the hand of the “Butcher” Cumberland. The seer’s voice rises to a shriek as he cries: “Weep, Albin! To death and captivity led! Oh, weep! But they tears cannot number the dead!
For a merciless sword on Culloden shall wave –
Culloden that reeks with the blood of the brave.”
A striking passage in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” describes the portents which foretold the fall of the mighty Roman conqueror, and in “Hamlet,” Horatio,, recalling the story, tells how, on the night before Caesar’s murder –
“The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber through the Roman streets.”
Every one recalls the famous scene in “Macbeth” where the unhappy king, racked with the pangs of remorse but unwilling to sacrifice his ill-begotten gains, is warned by a spirit raised by the diabolical arts of the weird sisters, to beware Macduff, the only man in Scotland who can revenge the foul and most unnatural crimes by which he has mounted to his bad eminence.
Tuesday December 2, 2014
This week’s article is another one of those that starts off about one thing and then doesn’t give us anymore details. I want to know if Senor ever heard from his wife darn it!! It has also now given me an earworm in the form of Bonnie Tyler, which of course I must share, but in the spirit (ha ha) of fun, I will also share the funny version. I never knew that “bright eyes” was a spiritualistic term and now I wonder what would happen if a bright eyes child met a black eyed child.
Washington Post edition 01/26/1913
$50000 REWARD IF YOU CAN CATCH A GHOST
The Strange Offer of a Rich South American, Whose Beautiful Young Wife, Dying in Paris, Promised to Return in Spirit to Comfort Him
Paris Jan. 18
BROKEN-HEARTED over the loss of his beautiful young wife, Senor Ramez de Romaldo, the millionaire owner of mines and cattle ranches in the Argentine Republic, has sailed back to his South American home, leaving behind him one of the strangest propositions bearing on the mystery of human future existence that ever excited the spiritualistic cult of Paris.
Senor Romaldo, before quitting the scenes of his wife’s social triumphs and her death from typhoid fever, bound himself in writing to pay a reward of $50,000 to anyone supplying him with satisfactory evidence that the spirits of the dead return, or in any way ever communicate with loved ones still living.
“Fifty thousand dollars for a ghost” – that is really what Senor Ramaldo’s offer amounts to, for he will not be satisfied with any of the ordinary manifestations produced by spiritualistic mediums. Can any one produce credible witnesses in support of his own testimony that he has seen, or felt the presence, or heard the voice of a departed spirit? If so, the $50,000 is his.
It will already be apparent to the reader that Senor Romaldo desires to fortify his slight hope that his dearly beloved dead wife will send him some message from the other world. Such, indeed, was her dying promise, according to M. Pierre Mourier, the personal friend and investigator of psychic phenomena, in whose hands Senor Romaldo placed his strange commission.
The Deathbed Scene
That deathbed scene, as described by friends of the bereaved husband, was the most affecting. At the last moment the dying wife became entirely conscious. Observing the agony of grief that overwhelmed her husband who was kneeling beside her bed, she found strength to place her hand on his head and to utter these words:
“Do not grieve so deeply, dear Ramez. You will not have lost me altogether. Already while I appeared unconscious, my spirit has made short excursions into the beyond, and I am assured of power to return to you even after my body has returned to dust. E comforted, dear Ramez. We shall meet again, and you will realize that our spirits remain one, though death separates our material selves.”
It seems that Senor Romaldo expected a speedy realization of this promise, though M. Mourier attempted to convince him of the unreasonableness of expecting so much of a spirit so recently freed from corporal existence. At the expiration of six weeks he accepted this view. It was to keep hope alive in his breast that he then, on the eve of his departure from Paris, commissioned his friend to offer a reward of $50,000 for proof of the possibility of departed spirits to manifest themselves to those whom they had loved in this life.
Activity Among Mediums
The natural stimulus of this generous offer is apparent in Paris spiritualistic circles. There is unusual activity among the professional mediums. Undoubtedly there will be attempts by expert “materializing mediums” to win the reward buy fraudulent methods. But they are likely to have only their labor for their pains, as M. Mourier is not only a serious scientific inquirer into psychic phenomena, but has made himself familiar with the tricks of spiritualistic charlatans.
Naturally, M. Mourier himself will be prominent among those who strive for the reward offered by Senor Ramaldo. He is beginning by collecting all sorts of information on the subject of ghost hunting. From American newspapers of four of five years ago he has gleaned particulars of a similar offer – the amount being $5,000 – Made by Joseph A. Battles, of New England, who has since died. The offer and the money were intrusted to Clark University, of Worcester, Mass., and according to the terms of the offer, was spent in serious psychic investigations – without any definite results, however. Mr. Battles authorized the following statement on the reasons for his extraordinary offer:
One Man’s Ambition to See Ghost
“All my life I have wanted to see a ghost, but I have not had that good fortune. I have read very many impressive declarations by worthy men and women, who assert that they have come face to face with spooks.
“There is, too, considerable in history of the Old World which would seem to record the actual doing and sayings of historic apparitions.
“And yet I have never myself even come upon the warm trail of a ghost, nor do I know among my acquaintances a single one who has had personal dealings with the departed spirit.
“Either there are ghosts or there are not. It certainly seems to be a fair subject for investigation. If up to the time of my death I have not had the good fortune to meet a ghost, it is my intention to leave a fund of money to some responsible institution for the purpose of trying to determine positively whether specters of the dead do really appear to the living.
“I am quite serious in this matter, and do not desire it to be treated as a joke. Human ambition reveals itself in many directions – some men are ambitions to discover the north pole, others to solve the secrets of the astronomical worlds, still others to probe the mysteries of human anatomy. My own private ambition is to enable mankind to know beyond all possibility of doubt whether ghosts exist, if this alleged fact can be established.”
Here are the results of M. Mourier’s observations up to date:
Ghosts are reported to have appeared to needy persons and led them to buried treasure and performed many kindly acts. If these reports are true, it is reasonable to suppose that there will be a rush of ghosts from the hereafter across the border to appear before such persons as they feel inclined to help.
Deducting the number of human beings who suddenly become ghosts themselves from heart failure at the appearance of friendly spirits, a goodly army of expectant living persons, each with a tame ghost in tow, should arrive Monday morning to claim the money. If they do not appear, it is surely on account of the unfortunate character that ghosts have.
Uncertain, Coy, Hard to Please
In the first place, ghosts are notoriously “uncertain, coy, and hard to please.”
When you and your friends have made arrangements to entertain them, they stay away and sulk on the ground that there is a doubter present. After the Thomas and his doubts have been put out, the lights must be put out, too, for either light hurts the spectral eyesight or else ghosts are afflicted with certain false modesty. When it is so dark that you can’t tell whether it is a ghost or a charlatan in a white sheet, perhaps you will see something glide about mysteriously.
If, through a medium, you get in communication with a spook, all goes well for a while, as long as you only talk commonplaces or accept the vague nonsense Mr. Ghost tells you through Mrs. Medium. But if you ask for any real information, such as ghosts naturally would have, you obtain an evasive answer, and if then you still persist, the medium will inform you that the “conditions are unfavorable,” and that the ghost will have to be going now, and go he does.
Out of all the alleged messages from the dead, there has been nothing of general importance to humanity. When the dead return they seem to have deteriorated mentally, for they busy themselves with calling attention to the little money they had buried, or doing over again some deed they had performed in life. Thus they waste their time, instead of telling us whether Mars is inhabited and what is on the other side of the moon.
A Fake Factory Found
The ghost hunter will meet no end of charlatans who will fool him unless he has a mind trained to reason and the courage to doubt as long as he can see a possibility of fraud. Some time ago investigators discovered a factory for making fakes for spiritualistic séances.
The apparatus ranged in price from $5, which would buy a “floating cross” that floated about weirdly over the heads of sitters, to $500, the cost of a “Little Bright Eyes” outfit. This latter was a device for “materializing” a little child in white. There were also “spectral hands,” floating violins, etc., etc., at various prices.
To operate these fakes it is not necessary to be a skilled sleight-of-hand operator, because the ghosts very obligingly demand a very dim light, and anybody who shows a vulgar curiosity is at once thrown out, because the ghosts are very sensitive about doubters, and invariably sulk.
However, it must be borne in mind that there are evidences the world over of apparitions which must be looked upon as returns of the dead until science can explain them otherwise.
The historical visions, ghosts, apparitions, or whatever they have been termed, are always described as having a recognizable human form.
Ghost Resembles Glistening Bubble
A famous ghost was that of Lord Lovat, who was said to walk about the housetops of London, carrying his head in his hand. Hogarth’s print representing this ghost was once shown to King George III of England, who was so overwhelmed with superstitious fear that he covered his face with his hands, and ordered the courtier to “take away that ghastly performance.” Photographs alleged to have been taken without fraud show vague translucent figures wandering about the negative.
Yet we have a description of how the human spirit appears to a medium by C.W. Leadbeater entirely different.
To the clairvoyant or medium in his mediumistic state the ghost or spirit appears as an immense glistening soap bubble, full of all the colors of the rainbow. These colors are constantly changing according to the thoughts and emotions of the man to whom the soul belongs.
Suppose yourself a medium, and before you stands a man of average size and intellect. You put yourself into the necessary mediumistic state, close your eyes, and in place of the man there stands a brilliant, shimmering shelf of light, about 11 feet tall, oval in shape, and looking much like a vast soap bubble.
If there is a large band of black encircling the middle of the bubble, it shows the man is full of hatred and malice. A temporary fit of hated is shown by a slack spiral on the surface looking like a coil of thick smoke. Deep red flashes on a dark background show anger; they will be more or less tinged with brown according as there is more or less direct selfishness in the type of anger. Lurid, sanguinary red indicates sensuality. Dull, rusty brown shows avarice and arranges itself in parallel bands, giving the soul a most curious appearance. Brownish gray indicates selfishness, greenish gray is jealousy, livid gray shows fear. Crimson means love; orange, ambition and pride. Yellow is always a good color, implying intellectuality. Grayish green denotes deceit and cunning; emerald green, versatility; blue green, sympathy. Blue itself means religious feeling.
While you are examining the soul of the man in front of you other souls appear on the scene, coming and going. Some may belong to persons walking about the room, but who are all these others who pass in great numbers in all directions and at all degrees of speed.
These are the souls of the dead, who appear uninvited and proceed on their way unhindered by doors or walls. These are easily recognizable by the lack of change in their colors, for they are free from the disturbances caused by the pains, passions, and irritations of the body.
These things the medium claims to perceive, not by his eye, but by their effect sympathetically on similar substances in his own system.