Chimera

Ep 84: Houska Castle – Gateway to Hell (Part 2)

Image of Houska Castle's chapel, over which the fissure or "Gate to Hell" was built.  Photo Credit by Scary Side of Earth on flickr, used with CC by 2.0 attribution.

"How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell.  There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man."
– Johnny Cash
 
LOCATION: Castle or "Hrad" Houska, in the Czech Republic
 
Map showing location of Hauska Castle relative to other medieval Bohemian castles that were under Nazi control during WWII.  Map created by A.R.C. member Cody Rice.
 

BACKGROUND:

There are two connected, yet distinct traditions of weirdness concerning Houska Castle: its mysterious, violent and spotty history of purpose and ownership, and the reported sightings of horrific creatures and terrifying specters since its founding.  Regarding the castle's originally intended design; whether it was really built to keep something from escaping rather than defense from outside forces, the lack of any definitive or comprehensive historical records will only lead to debate and speculation.  However, those that have been inside the walls of this fortress and others in the region will tell you that Houska's architecture clearly doesn't seem to fit with the standard intentions.  Regarding the encounters with frightening phantoms, if you believe places can be haunted, Houska Castle seems to be just that. 

 

 

 

 

Reference Links:

 

Related Books:

77 Prague legends
By Alena Jezkova
 

Suggested listening:

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The Dark Myths Collective  

http://darkmyths.org/

 

Credits:

Episode 84: Houska Castle – Gateway to Hell (Part 2).  Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Audio Editing by Sarah Vorhees; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers, a.k.a. The Astonishing Research Corps, or "A.R.C." for short. Copyright 2017 Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Ep 83: Houska Castle – Gateway to Hell (Part 1)

Title image of Houska Castle By Mirek256 - Own work, "Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0" CC BY-SA 3.0

"The gates of hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent and easy is the way.”
– John Dryden’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid , Book  6, Line 126

 
LOCATION: Castle or "Hrad" Houska, in the Czech Republic
 
Map showing location of Hauska Castle relative to other medieval Bohemian castles that were under Nazi control during WWII.  Map created by A.R.C. member Cody Rice.
 

BACKGROUND:

The descriptor "Hell Hole" can currently describe anything from your first apartment to the workplace you dread, but where do we get that term?  Ages ago, could there have been a hole that people believed led straight to the depths of hell itself?  There are several sites in our world that could lay claim to that title, where the "veil" to the underworld seems a little "thin," but a historically solid contender would no doubt be Houska Castle, about 40 miles north of Prague in the Czech Republic.  Tales of demonic beasts issuing forth from the chasm and visiting violence upon villagers and ghastly specters scaring those who roam the castle grounds have been known since the Middle Ages to the present, but what of the edifice itself? No matter what you believe about the folklore, what can't be denied is that the castle was not built for the usual reasons – instead of a fortification to keep people out, it was built to keep things in.

 

Suggested listening:

Mission to Zyxx is an Improv Comedy Sci-Fi podcast about a crew of interstellar ambassadors traveling to the far reaches of space, created by veteran comedians from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, with special guests from Saturday Night Live, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Chris Gethard Show, Search Party and other great comedy shows you know and love.  Find, Subscribe and Listen NOW to the first season of Mission to Zyxx, available on Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, or wherever you find really, really funny podcasts.

 
 

Related Books:

 

Special Offers from our Special Sponsors:

  • The Great Courses Plus – Learn about anything with over 8000 lectures on almost any subject you can think of – from history and science to forensic crime and genealogy!  Now you can get unlimited access to all of their lectures for free for a whole month by going to: TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/LEGENDS
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The Dark Myths Collective  

http://darkmyths.org/

 

Credits:

Episode 83: Houska Castle – Gateway to Hell (Part 1).  Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Audio Editing by Sarah Vorhees; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers, a.k.a. The Astonishing Research Corps, or "A.R.C." for short. Copyright 2017 Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Ep 75: The Jersey Devil - Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 2)

“When the horses heard the Devil scream, they’d carry on so you’d think they were gonna tear the barn down. You could hear the Devil scream a long way off when the horses would quiet down. People may say there’s nothing to it but I know darned well there is.”

– Amanda Sutts’ 1900 eyewitness account from Loren Coleman and Bruce G. Hallenbeck’s book, Monsters of New Jersey: Mysterious Creatures in the Garden State

 
Location: Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The Jersey Devil's territory isn't just confined to the coastal region of New Jersey's Pine Barrens.  Long before the "Leeds Devil" story became part of the local lore in the mid-18th century, the Native Americans of the Leni Lenape tribe had noted a strange creature in the area and named the nearby creek "Popuessing" meaning, "Place of the dragon."  Also according to Loren Coleman and Bruce Hallenbeck in their book, Monsters of New Jersey: Mysterious Creatures in the Garden State, in 1677, Swedish explorers found strange footprints in the rocks near the same creek and renamed it "Drake Kill" – "drake" also meaning dragon.
 

Background: 

Southern New Jersey is steeped in the legend of The Jersey Devil, with the eponymous rascal inspiring everything from the names of businesses to stickers and T-shirts for tourists.  But as one "South Jersey" native has informed us, The Pine Barrens themselves may be nothing like what outsiders envision, with most of it being "lush, green and beautiful" and a joy to explore.  Also, maybe almost no one from the area believes the myth themselves.  However, it seems in the case of the legend of Jersey Devil – there are two distinct yet connected phenomenal elements at play: the ye olde myth, and the otherworldly thing that more than a few people swear they've encountered.  So what do you say to them?  Are you sure all they saw or heard was an owl, a stray African bat, a mutant goat havin' a laugh, or that good ol' well-worn chestnut the Sandhill Crane?  Because now these accounts become much like any other testimony of the paranormal; those who have not experienced it probably won't believe it, but those that have can never forget it.

 
 

Reference Links:

 

 

Related Books:

The Jersey Devil
By James F McCloy, Ray Miller Jr.
The Jersey Devil
By Hunter Shea
Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil
By James F. McCloy, Ray, Jr. Miller
The Flight of Dragons
By Peter Dickinson
 

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The Dark Myths Collective  

http://darkmyths.org/

 

Credits:

Episode 75: The Jersey Devil – Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 2).  Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Audio Editing by Sarah Vorhees; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers, a.k.a. The Astonishing Research Corps, or "A.R.C." for short. Copyright 2017 Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Ep 74: The Jersey Devil - Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 1)

“It was neither beast, nor man, nor spirit, but a hellish brew of all three.” 
– Vance Larner, writing in his diary about his encounter with the Jersey Devil in 1790.
 
 
Leeds Point, Galloway, New Jersey, United States.  As the most popular version of the legend of the Jersey Devil goes, Deborah Leeds (nee Smith) emigrated from England to marry Daniel Leeds in the mid-Eighteenth century.  When her 13th child was born, she cursed the difficult labor and the already impoverishing cicumstances of a brood of 12, and invoked the Devil.  The infant became a ghastly cryptid and has haunted the New Jersey Pine Barrens ever since.  Some legends have it as a "Mrs. Shrouds" as the beast's mother.
 

Background: 

They say if you meet someone from New Jersey, Pennsylvania or New York, you don't ask them if they've heard of the "Jersey Devil," you ask them if they've had some kind of encounter with it.  The legend of the curious cryptid is so prolific, they've no doubt heard of it, and if they've spent any time near the Pine Barrens of "The Garden State," more often than not you'll find they've experienced some evidence of the beast, or know someone who has.  Folklorists say that there are more than 30 variations of the legend,  but the main origin story of New Jersey's own "Official Demon" goes all the way back to 1735, and a Mrs. Leeds of Galloway, NJ, who upon a difficult delivery of her 13th child, exclaimed it might as well be a devil – which, if the tale is to be believed, you should never do.  Since then, the story has been so popular that the idea of The Jersey Devil has made its way into movies, television, and video games, and is even the inspiration for the name of New Jersey's National Hockey League team.  But why has this tale endured for at least 282 years?  Is it because somehow the legend is just so fantastic that people can't forget it?  Or is it because, as so many residents throughout the years have claimed, from New Jersey's eastern shores, through the mysterious Pine Barrens all the way to western Pennsylvania, something really is out there?

 

Reference Links:

 

Related Books:

The Jersey Devil
By James F McCloy, Ray Miller Jr.
The Jersey Devil
By Hunter Shea
The Flight of Dragons
By Peter Dickinson
Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil
By James F. McCloy, Ray, Jr. Miller
 

Special Offers from our Special Sponsors:

 

The Dark Myths Collective  

http://darkmyths.org/

 

Credits:

Episode 74: The Jersey Devil: Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 1).  Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Audio Editing by Sarah Vorhees; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers, a.k.a. The Astonishing Research Corps, or "A.R.C." for short. Copyright 2017 Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.