Phantom Hitchhikers

Most people who live in America, or read about American folklore, can likely point out a few major "players" in the scene. One of the most prominent of these tales is that of the Phantom Hitchhiker. Scholar Jan Harold Brunvand writes in his book,  The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings, that these are "the most often collected and the most discussed contemporary legend of all."

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If you're not familiar, the phantom hitchhiker, also known as "vanishing" hitchhikers. Can be a variety of different people. At their base all phantom hitchhikers are strange figures usually picked up on lonely roadsides that, before they are dropped of, they vanish without a trace from the interior of the car. In fact, this is quite an old folktale and there are even stories of them disappearing from carriages and horses! Additionally, they are often picked up by (or being driven near) to graveyards, bridges, intersections, tight turns, dangerous hills, and any part of the road where tragedy has stricken before.

But why are these stories so pervasive in American culture? Well, there are a few reasons. One of them being the prevalence of many people mobile and vehicle-related accidents. Almost every town, even small towns, have a dangerous intersection or a too-sharp-turn...so, in turn, every town could have one of these ghostly hitchhikers, forever traveling on the same stretch of road that killed them.

But that isn't the only theory. 

Scientific American's article on this mentions that there are two lessons one could take from these tales:

1. A reminder of the importance of community...that good people will pick up distraught-looking hitchhikers in need of a ride.

2. They also served as a warning for driving too fast because you too could end up haunting your own stretch of highway.

According to the writer, Krystal D'Costa, says "These stories aren't necessarily "spine tingling," but they reflect larger social concerns and are designed to encourage behavior change."

Resurrection Mary is one of the most popular of all of these stories. Although, we don't quite know who Mary was there are several primary theories. One of them is that she was a young woman who spent a wonderful night in Chicago dancing the night away at the O Henry Ballroom on Archer Ave. At one point in the night, she leaves the ballroom and begins making her way along the roadway. Presumably, a vehicle struck her, left the scene, and she died as a result of the accident. How do those that experience Mary know it is the same girl? Well, her unmistakable white dress and dancing shoes are her trademarks. Oh, and her destination is always the same...Resurrection Cemetery.

There have been over 30 "verifiable" sightings of Mary. The first encounter occurred allegedly occurred in 1939. Jerry Palus claimed he danced all night with the ghost girl at a dance hall on 47th Street, and when he went to drop her off at the address she gave...she vanished and he was at Resurrection Cemetery. According to Prarie Ghosts, he was desperate to find out more information about what he had experienced, "Determined to find out what was going on, Palus visited the address the girl had given him on the following day. The woman who answered the door told him that he couldn’t have possibly been with her daughter the night before because she had been dead for several years. However, Palus was able to correctly identify the girl from a family portrait in the other room."


photo: This image is from Martin and is liscensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).


The Lighthouse of Tévennec

One of the most haunted places in France is out at sea. The lighthouse of Tévennec was first lit in 1857 and is located snugly between the French mainland and the Île de Sein. It sits on a stretch of water known as the "Raz de Sein" in Brittany. Although it lighthouses are supposed to serve as a beacon of light, it has an irrefutably dark reputation. In fact, it was so difficult to get to and so utterly terrifying to its inhabitants, it was automated in 1910. How terrifying was it? Multiple guards went mad, died suspiciously, lost children, and experienced haunting. 

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There is a chance that death and destruction ruled Tévennec long before lighthouses were even invented. According to Breton folklore, Tévennec was the seat of Ankou...the personification of death. Ankou is also known as the grave yard watcher, so this treacherous stretch of sea seems like a good place to set up shop.

In it's 50+ year history it had twenty-three guards the first of which was Henri Guezennec. Unfortunately, the saying "the first is the worst" sticks solidly to Guezennec's time spent at Tévennec. He went utterly and completely mad due to the ghostly, disembodied voices he heard. Guezennec would be the first of many to be driven mad at Tévennec. The second guard suffered a similar affliction and the government changed Tévennec from a one-man to a two-man operation. 

Hauntings aren't surprising in this isolated and dangerous lighthouse. In fact, it is likely that hundreds of people would have met their end near or on the lighthouse, which was located on the "Raz de Sein" a stretch of water notorious for huge waves. In fact, there was a house that was built and re-built three times but the waves were so large they would often go over the roof, ruining the house.

The strange happenings wore on to such a degree that in 1893 crucifixes were embedded into the rocks surrounding the island. It was thought that this could lessen the strange and unexplained going-ons at Tévennec. This was followed by a new kind of search for the guardsmen: married couples. There was a hope that recruiting married couples to keep the lighthouse together would help stave off loneliness and the ill effects of the island. However, it seemed that no guard could last much more than a year. 

In 2015 Marc Pointud set out to spend 2 months alone in the lighthouse (albeit with media and communication tools) which has remained empty since 1910. Pointud might be just the man for the job, though. In 2002, he founded the National Society for Heritage, Lighthouses and Beacons, to preserve the country's lighthouses, especially the forgotten ones. In 2011, the state granted his organization permission to occupy and renovate Tévennec. He spent the weeks there without incident, although he did say he didn't believe in ghosts and did not feel as disconnected and isolated from the world as the guards that came before him. His long-term goal being to eventually turn it into an artist residence. I wonder what dynamic scenes could be inspired by Tévennec's location. 

.The above image is by Calcineur, Self-photographed and is liscensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

One thing I love writing about on the blog are stories of haunted America. Why? Well, because usually at least 1 or 2 listeners have been to these infamous places and have a story or a picture to share, so if you ever have one share them below or send to astonishingcontact@gmail.com! Now, on with the show.

Today, I wanted to talk about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (I know Lunatic is NOT a PC word, but that is what it is called. Please do not think the name reflects AL's thoughts on the victims on this Asylum).

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Like many intriguing and infamous buildings,  the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is hidden in the mountains. In particular, Weston, West Virginia. The building itself is formidable - and that isn't an exaggeration. In fact, this Asylum is America's largest hand-cut masonry building. It operated as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for over 100 years, 1864-1994.

Not only would this building soon be home to less than savory practices to help those with mental illnesses, but it was built largely by prison labor, beginning in 1858. The Civil War interrupted construction, and the first patients were admitted in 1864, when the hospital was referred to as West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. However, construction continued through 1880. 

Oh, and for those who like an extra added spooky-factor...when completed, the land and buildings comprised of 666 acres.

Despite its massive size, it was really only designed to hold about 250 patients. However, this building did not become one of America's most infamous hauntings because it was a well run asylum. By 1880, right before construction was finished, it already housed about 715 patients. The number continued to grow and doubled in the 1930s. At its peak in the 1950s the facility housed roughly 2,400 patients which far exceeded the limit. The population size lead to mass mismanagement and mistreatment of the patients. Soon enough, gossip and reports began pouring out of the asylum of increasing violence.

The overcrowding, which at this point, had been a decades-long issue, naturally lead to a whole host issues leading to substandard care and conditions. In 1949, the problems became so notorious that the The Charleston Gazette did an entire series of articles exposing the gruesome conditions. These issues included the usual suspects like sanitation issues, broken/not enough furniture, heating issues, and even a lack of light.

However, this expose did not bring the institution down and it continued to operate until 1994. Although the population significant decreased by the mid 1980s, this did not improve conditions. In fact, they had stayed the same or in some cases even gotten worse. For example, patients who could not be controlled appropriately spent inordinate amounts of time literally locked in cages.

One of the most horrifying procedures regularly carried out were transorbital lobotomies, also known as ice-pick lobotomies. The procedure was when a sharp, pronged device was driven through the orbital socket. This caused permanent damage, however it was seemed to 'alleviate' many of the symptoms. These were so popular that one doctor allegedly performed over 225 lobotomies in one week. Dr. Walter Freeman, who helped pioneer this practice in the early '50s, was one of the most notorious doctors of the Asylum.

The final death throes of the building began in the 1990s. In 1992 the Charleston Gazette published another article describing in detail horrendous conditions inside of the asylum. In this year,  George Edward Bodie died after a fight with another patient named David Michael Mason. Furthermore, a patient named Brian Scott Bee, committed suicide and his badly decomposing body was not found for over a week.

Surprisingly enough, the building was named as a National Historic Landmark. The current owners of the building even offer historic daytime tours and paranormal tours six days a week, and even Ghost Tours and Ghost Hunts on weekend nights.

The terrors of the asylum didn't vanish when the hospital went out of official commission. Those who visit the building today regularly report seeing apparitions of nurses, doctors, and even patients roaming down the hallways. There is also an auditory element as well, with many reports of hearing anguished cries echoing through the hallways.

The most infamous haunting is the young ghost of Lily. Lily apparently spent most of her short life inside the walls of the asylum. She was believed to be the daughter of a previous patient, Gladys Ravensfield who was admitted to the asylum after being attacked and raped by soldiers during the civil war. Although some believe she was an orphan left at the steps of the main building. However, sticking to the Ravensfield theory, it was believed she gave birth in 1863 to the baby who was named Lily by the staff. Gladys never fully recovered and eventually descended deeper and deeper into madness due to the horrible expereince and the general unpleasantness of life in the asylum. 

She died in childhood, but the staff memorialized her with a room filled with toys that she was known to interact with, as well as candy. The most popular area on the first floor is Lily’s Room, located in the eastern corner of Ward Four, a “step” between Ward One and the older Civil War section. Lily is known to tug on the clothes of people who she takes a liking to and sometimes even slips her ghostly hand into the hand of female visitors.


This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID "highsm.31656". 

The Hinsdale House

Have you ever heard of the Hinsdale house? I hadn't until very recently. Things began going wrong long before the Dandy family moved into a century-old townhouse in Hinsdale, NY during the 1970s...but why not start at the apex?

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Like many families who buy a house - Clara and Phil were excited and caught up with the flurry of excitement that comes with moving. However, the honeymoon glow of the new house only took a few days to begin wearing off. Soon, the family began experiencing some very unexplainable phenomena. 

It started off semi-innouncously - almost instances which could just be brushed off. Things like phone calls from unknown callers and various acts of minor vandalism (think cabinet doors from Paranormal Activity) that is typically linked to poltergeists. The only frightening unexplainable occurrence at the beginning? Sometimes, soft chanting could be heard at the edge of the woods surrounding their home.

One night, the family even reported that a crop of "strange faces" were watching them through their windows. Mr. Dandy, like any good guy, ran outside to confront the trespassers. But, by the time they got their the faces had somehow reversed and now appeared as if they were inside the house looking at him.

Then, soon things began to escalate. They started to see things. What kind of things? The most prevalent seemed to a full-bodied woman in white. However, other apparitions plagued the family like half-animal human hybrids and even slightly indescribable demonic-like beings.

The hauntings soon became more and more violent. In one incident, a lamp was thrown directly at one of the Dandy daughters. Objects often flew around the room, aiming for a human target. 

Driven to desperation in just a few short months, the Dandy's sought out the help of the church. Father Alphonsus was assigned to help the family. A team of paranormal investigators also trekked out to give their assistance to the family. There doesn't seem to be a lot of specific accounts of the exorcism, so it is safe to assume it went...as par for the course as an exorcism can go.

After a few days of cherished calm, the madness and evil began again. The exorcism failed. The activity returned to a heartbreaking fervor, finally forcing the Dandy's to flee the premise and leave the house. They lived in the house from July 1973 - October 1974.

The Hinsdale House is also slightly notorious for another reason: it is responsible for one of the scariest and most watched episodes of Paranormal Lockdown. Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman spent a grueling 72 hours inside the house. The experience included chanting, banging, and an overwhelming sense of confusion. You can watch some clips here.

What is the fate of the house now? Paranormal investigator Dan Klaes bought the property in 2015, and he hosts a variety of paranormal teams, researchers, and investigators at the property. 

The above image is not a picture of the house and is by flickr user Bodomi. It is liscensed under Creative Commons. 


A Ghost Ship Found Almost 100 Years Ago is Still a Mystery

96 years ago, a 5-masted, 225-foot schooner crashed into the shoals of Hatteras, NC. The ship's sails were fully engaged, and, as Coastguard searched the ship they did not find the crew that engaged these sails. The only living soul aboard the ship was a cat, oddly enough, with six-toes. One of the only clues of this strange shipwreck? The ship's name: Carroll A. Deering.


Locals spoke about the mystery constantly, as the coastguard and FBI investigated the ship. In fact, there were 5 total investigations by different government and private institutions to try and figure out what, how, and why the Deering met its fate on the shores of Hatteras.

The 225-foot Deering left Boston and picked up a load of coal in Norfolk in late 1920, bound for South America. The Deering company hired W.B. Wormell to replace Capt. William Merritt, who became too sick to make the voyage.

Joe Shwarzer, the director of the North Carolina Maritime Museums, says "This is still one of the great unsolved maritime mysteries...There are any number of potential explanations for it.”

However, we do know a little bit about the Deering and its journey before it turned into a ghost ship. The Deering company hired W.B. Wormell to replace the previous captain, who was too sick to make the long voyage. Lucky for him, eh? It left Boston to pick up coal from Norfolk in late 1920, and it was bound for South America, and then would make its way back to Boston.

 The ship was making its way back home when it was sighted on January 28th, 1921. This is supported by a report lightship at Cape Fear, south of Wilmington. It was spotted again on January 31st, at approximately 6:30am by Andrew Gray, a member of station 183. Gray spotted the schooner stranded on the outer edge of Diamond Shoals. Several other reports were made of the stranded ship, however, rough waves that morning prevented any rescue boats from heading out.

When rescue crews were able to get close enough to investigate by sight, they reported no signs of life...or the life boats. Rescue crews returned four days later and boarded the boat, as the weather had calmed down by this time.

Upon boarding found food on the galley stove, clothing in lockers, 3 pairs of boots in the captain’s cabin, and even a bed that had been recently slept in, according to a 1921 Virginian-Pilot report.

Theories abound on what happened to the crew - and why they would leave food and supplies on board. For example, given the extreme weather it is possible that they could have tried to make for land but drowned or wrecked in the process.

Or, equally as believable, it is possible that the crew was distressed and the steamboat, the Hewitt, picked them up. Sadly, the Hewitt sank a few days later...potentially taking the Deering crew with it.

 The Bath, N.C., Daily Times had a slightly more nefarious conclusion - that pirates had raided the ship and killed and/or enslaved the crew. However...wouldn't true pirates, ya know, steal everything they could (like the boots and food that were noted as being left)? Though, 3 other ships disappeared around this same time and it was thought to be the work of pirates or rum-runners.

Even more nefarious, there were papers found at a Russian communist office in New York which called for its members to seize any U.S ships they could. Thus, the Deering could have been one of the targets (according to reports of the day.)

At the end of it all though? We don't know. Despite several searches of the eastern seaboard no bodies, evidence, or clues were found that would lead us to discovering the Deering's true fate.

One thing does remain of the crew - their six-toed cat, which, according to locals, has produced a long-lasting progeny of equally-toed cats amongst the island. 


The above image is from Flickr user Apasciuto and is liscensed under creative commons. It is not related to the story - simply an image of the ocean!

What Did the Modern Ghost Look Like in 1940?

In the 1940s, two American folklorists undertook the monumental tasks of collecting then-contemporary ghost stories. Despite being separated by over 2,000 miles (one in CA, the other in NY), their findings were eerily similar.


The findings were published in two different journals. First, "California Ghosts" by Rosalie Hankey was published in California Folklore Quarterly in 1942. This was followed by Louis C. Jones' "The Ghosts of New York: An Analytical Study in the Journal of American Folklore in 1944.

At this time, the most common ghost story across the country was that of the 'vanishing hitchhiker'. Now, if you're into the paranormal even slightly, or ever told ghost stories around a campfire, you probably are familiar with this apparition. The ghost, almost always a woman, appears to motorists on the highway as a totally normal human being in desperate need of a ride. However, after the being has been in the car for some time they either disappear in the actual car, or, when dropped off, disappear then.

The interesting thing about this is, at the time, more people reported seeing solid human-like ghosts, rather than the wispy white ghosts with barely-human shapes, or even blurred edges, that dominant most of our thinking. In fact, many people were completely unable to tell the ghost WASN'T a ghost until it was 'too late'. Or, even more interesting, they would drop them off and then later find out the person they talked to and dropped off had been dead for months or even years.

This is linked to another part of the study - the idea that more than a third of our ghosts died violent or sudden deaths." With hitchhiker deaths, many were accidents or even suicides, and even murders. Thus, those people who suffered greatly at their end of their life now seem to suffer in the after, or pre-after, life.

Even as early as the 1940s, ghosts still played a major role in the human psyche. And, what's more, is that they were becoming more real, more human, and, arguably, more tragic and relatable than the ghosts of yesteryear. Jones wrote that advancements in science of course is correlated with advancements and changes to our ghost lore. In fact, in his article he writes that these advancements allow people to "open their mind to possibilities,"

Our continue updates to ghost lore, and the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, new ghost stories, videos, and photographs circulate on the internet and on major news channels regularly seems to support this 50+ year old belief.

I think it's time for an update, though. What does the contemporary ghost look like in he 21st century? Has it changed due to the prevalence of visual culture like TV, movies, youtube, and more? Have we maintained the more human-like ghosts of the 20th century? Have we regressed to more fanciful and older ghostly traditions? Or, perhaps most interesting of all, have we created a whole new conception of what a ghost is?

The above image is from Flickr User Josh Meek  and is licensed under Creative Commons 2.0. 

Did King have a bit of the Shine?

We know a lot of Stephen King's characters can shine, but did a little rub off on King? Henry Yau was staying at the Stanley Hotel when he decided to take a quick snap. It is this hotel where the idea for the famed book "The Shining" was first created. Yau captured a haunting image when he attempted to take a panoramic picture. Click here to see the photo!

The photo appears to have captured two apparitions standing on the staircase: a woman and her child.

This hotel is where Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, stayed on the last night before closing for the winter. King was inspired to write the novel due to the strange feeling of being the only guests at a large hotel. The rumors of the hotel being haunted stretch back decades, and even promoted a visit from the show "Ghost Hunters".

According to the Stanley Hotel's website, the ghosts of F.O and Floral Stanley are still trying to the run the hotel from beyond the grave.

This photo is free under the Creative Commons public domain.


Siberian Researcher Sent on Search by a Phantom Girl

Museum workers in Krasnoyarsk were more than a little surprised when they were digitizing local photos from the early 20th century and found an identical figure in all of them. This wasn't a building, an animal, or a trick of the light. It was a solemn little girl, dressed in white, striking an identical pose in each shot. link

So far the girl has been found in, at least, 20 photos and 4 glass negatives. Researchers believe they were taking between 1906-1908, judging by the appearance of buildings in the photos.

They note that it is only with modern equipment that they are able to see the girl. As she is "rather small" Ilya Kuklinsky, a senior researcher says, "When we made high resolution scans and zoomed in, we saw her more closely along with the details of her clothes and hairstyle". They say that though she changes boots, stockings, and details of her outfit, "She is always in the same pose with the same facial expression. She never smiles. The fact that she changes her clothes makes me think the pictures were not taken in a single day. It was over a period of some time. But what was the aim?"

The museum, in hopes of locating her, have released a series of postcards pointing out the girl so that locals may help identify her.

They do have some theories, that the girl could be the photographer's daughter or niece. But, at the moment, they do not even know the photographer's name, just the initials "F.E.A".

As of this time, no one has come forward.

Japanese Taxis are Picking Up Ghosts

Japanese taxi drivers have recently reported that they've been picking up the ghosts of 2011 Tsunami Victims. link

Over five drivers are coming forward with the similar claim that passengers have entered their vehicle...only to vanish into thin air before they reach their destination.

One driver described a passenger as, "a young woman dressed in a coat". She slid into the cab near Ishinmaki Station and asked him to go to the Minamihama district.

In response, the driver said that the district was "almost empty", double checking she actually wanted to heads to the desolate area.

She responded, in a trembling voice, "Have I died?".

Clearly shaken up, the driver turned around to look at her...but no one was there.

Another driver claims that a young mans stepped into his cab and asked to go to "Hiyoriyama mountain". The driver set off without a word, but quickly pulled over when he realized the passenger was no longer in the backseat.

These accounts have been complied by Tohoku Gakuin University socioogy student, Yuka Kudo. The data and stories will be used for her graduation thesis.

Can Ghosts Manipulate Your Senses?

Reading this might bring some long time listeners back to episode 11, "The Flirting Ghosts of Norway", except this piece takes place on Mackinac Island. Link

Located in Michigan, Mackinac island is a wildly popular tourist spot with some deliciously spooky places for those that like to wander off the beaten path. The island itself is right off of Lake Huron. Mackinac is a historically protected island, so there are no cars allowed. That means you have to get around by foot, bike, or horse-drawn carriage. The lack of cars, something we see  or use every day, only adds to the slightly eeriness that encases this strange little place.

While the island has tons of crazy EMF readings, strange physical experiences, and even its own Ghost Hunters episode, something even stranger has arisen thanks to an investigation by Dana and Greg from "This Week in Weird".

During their investigation at the island's famous hotel, the group began to smell a very strong...odor. And no, it wasn't sulfur if that's what your thinking. Dana describes the scent as "the kind of musk given off by a man who hadn't bathed in many, many weeks. Despite the odor becoming almost overpowering, I resisted mentioning it for fear of offending anyone in the group". Lucky for Dana, someone else brought up the horrible smell.

Dana, and the group, concluded it wasn't emitting from someone with the suite. Additionally, it wasn't the suite itself that had the smell, as they would have noticed it much sooner. Even weirder? Only two people were experiencing the scent. It purportedly lasted about five minutes before disappearing and not returning for the rest of the investigation.

The ghost that supposedly haunts the room, Harvey, a man who infamously killed himself due to unrequited love, seemed to be very depressed for obvious reasons. Both Dana and the group member figured it wouldn't be all too surprising for a man with severe depression to stop bathing.  What's more is, the other group member lost her sense of smell years ago.

So Dana was left with some hard questions..."How did a woman with no sense of smell, well, smell the phantom odor? And stranger still, how was it that she and I were the only two people to experience it? What does that say about a ghosts ability to effect us? Can they draw upon our memories, influence parts of our brain, even causing us to “smell” something that isn’t physically there?"

Dana comes to a very interesting conclusion, that maybe the presence of a spirit isn't always dictated by physical manifestations. What if they can simply be felt through the "otherworldly manipulation of the circuits in our brains".

So, what does this mean? That perhaps the last time you unexplainably smelled something, heard something, or even felt something it could have been a ghost manipulating your senses in order for you to feel your presence. Perhaps ghosts are so often translucent not because it is hard for them to manifest physically, but because they're manipulating our sense of sight.


This picture comes from Flickr User Marada and is licensed under Creative Commons

Houdini May Have Communicated in Death...but No One Cared

The Houdini Seances are an American tradition dating back almost a century. Every Halloween, the anniversary of Houdini's tragic death, groups all around the country gather for the chance to communicate with the Great Houdini from beyond the grave. linked

For much of his life, Houdini was quite entranced with the idea of seances, mediums, and communication between the living and the dead. So, naturally, 100s of mediums came out from behind the veil claiming to have spoken to Houdini.

But, you see, Harry H was anything but stupid. He knew that this would happen and, so, as a safeguard he told his wife Bess that if he ever really did bridge the gap between the living and the dead he would speak in a code that only she would understand. That way, she could tell the serious from the seriously insane.

For over a year, Bess tried relentlessly to make contact and even offered a large reward for any medium who could communicate with Houdini from beyond the grave. Sadly, nothing came of it for months and months.

But that's when spirtual medium, Arthur Ford, of the First Spirtualist Church turned up. He claimed that on Febuary 8th, 1929 a spirit by the name of Cecillia approaches. Ford claimed that this was his mother who had come to tel her son Harry to "Forgive".

When Bess heard of this, she made immediate contact with Ford. In her letter she wrote...

"Strange that the word forgive is the word Houdini awaited in vain all of his life. It was indeed the message for which he always secretly hoped, and if had been given to him while he was still alive, it would I know have changed the entire course of his life—but it came too late. Aside from this there are one or two trivial inaccuracies—Houdini’s mother called him Ehrich—there was nothing in the message which could be contradicted. I might also say that this is the first message which I have received which has an appearance of truth."

But, the plot thickens...

On January 5th, 1929 Ford claimed he had been given the code words that prove, once and for all, that he had made communication with Houdini.

This was the message: "Rosabelle, answer, tell, pray-answer, look tell, answer-answer-, tell"

Bess was stunned. This was the promised message, this was the code. The code was actually part of their closely guarded secret of their stage act. No one knew the code, except for the Houdinis.


This photo is by Flickr User Boston Public Library and is licensed under Creative Commons.

Is There Such a Thing as a Welcome Ghost

Link to original article  Is there a world where ghost children aren’t terrifying? Well, defying all belief lies the zashikiwarashi lore in Japan. The zashikiwarashi, otherwise known as a child ghost, are supposed to bring good luck to all who see them. The living inhabitants of the house often welcome zashikiwarashi, as they typically bring good fortune, despite being a little mischievous.

A lucky homeowner, Mashairo, from Japan caught one of his little houseguests on Facebook and the viewcount has already surpassed a half a million views.

The video shows the front room of Mashario’s home and an eerily translucent child-like figure cross the room from one end to the other.

Many have doubts about the video, for example, the camera angle seems a bit strange and unnatural, the high “quality” of the potential ghost, and the strange music playing in the background all contribute to the skepticism of this strange video. But, it is an interesting clip nonetheless.

Whatever you may believe, give the video a look because, like the lore says, you may just get lucky.

Episode 11 is Posted!

Our latest show is up! In the 1890’s an illicit affair centered around a hotel in Norway ends badly. Are the departed lovers still hanging around the original section of the hotel’s top floor harassing and possibly even flirting with guests?

If you're a subscriber, you should get it automatically. If you're not, you can find us on iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIn. You can also listen at our website and there find extra content such as photos, maps and links to the area the story is about.

Thanks for listening!

invenimus arcana



Ghost Goes Antiquing

This one caught our attention, especially the shattering glass. Certainly not impossible to fake, but looks like a story worth exploring.

Watch: CCTV captures 'ghosts' haunting Yorkshire antiques shop

Owner of the Barnsley Antiques Centre in Yorkshire records apparent paranormal activity

Link to Original Article by Charlotte Kroll at The Telegraph (UK)

Video source Newsflare by dparker224

2:14PM BST 16 Oct 2014

CCTV cameras installed in an antiques shop purport to show some spooky paranormal happenings.

Footage captured in the Barnsley Antiques Centre appears to show pictures suddenly falling off walls and a glass cabinet shattering. A white mist and a glowing orb are also spotted hovering over the shop floor.

Shop owner Daniel Parker has been collecting videos of the unexplained accidents over the past year to support his theory that the premises is haunted by ghosts.


EDIT: A link to the store of course!!!!

The Nurikabe Strikes at Night, Blocking your Path

Since there's very little happening on the internet today, we thought we'd give you a Holiday Gift!

We recently stumbled across talented artist Matthew Meyer's blog where he posts his original art work regularly. We became quite intrigued with his depictions of Japanese Yokai. Yokai are a class of super-natural monsters in Japanese Folklore and there are many, many of them in all kinds of forms, but the one that caught our eye today was the Nurikabe. It's at once a little comical and also frightening. We'll let you read Matthew's description of it below, and when you finish, check out his Yokai-a-day series, which he does every October in honor of Halloween. You can also go to his other site Yokai.com where he's creating an illustrated database of the yokai and read about the Nurikabe there as well. It's fair to say he's an expert on yokai as he is currently living in Japan researching them extensively and we're hoping he might be a guest on the show at some point.

When you're done, if you like this stuff, check out Matt's book The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons,  with original illustrations and background on them. In 2015, he's self-publishing a crowd-funded sequel via Amazon entitled, The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits which will feature 125 new yokai, including the Nurikabe.

Here's Matthew's original blog entry, a link to his Facebook page, and Twitter account as well.

A-Yokai-A-Day: Nurikabe

Originally Posted on

Sunday October 14th, 2012

Today’s yokai is extremely well-known and popular in Japan, made famous by Mizuki Shigeru’s yokai stories. However, like many of Mizuki’s works, it has its history way back in the ghost stories of the Edo period. If we look back at the original monster scroll paintings that started the whole Edo period yokai mania, we’ll find that nurikabe has changed quite a bit from his original form to the cute character most people know today. Many yokai have changed such, and their original forms were much scarier or more grotesque.


Nurikabe (塗壁)

Nurikabe means “lacquered wall” and also the word for a plaster wall today. It comes from coastal regions of Japan, and was originally an invisible, wall-like manifestation that blocked people from walking late at night. Like most other invisible yokai, it was given a spectacular form by imaginative painters, and since then it has been depicted in various styles.

One of the most famous depictions of a nurikabe comes from a scroll by Kanō Tōrin Yoshinobu painted in 1802. I think his nurikabe looks kind of like a mix between an elephant and the luck dragon from The NeverEnding Story… Others have painted him as simply a broad face on the surface of a house’s wall, almost like a kind of wall tsukumogami.

Nurikabe appear on roads late at night. As you are walking, right before your eyes, an enormous, invisible wall materializes and blocks your way. There is no way around it, as it extends as far as you can go to the left and right. There is no way over it, and it cannot be knocked down either. However, it is said that if you tap it near the ground with a stick, it will vanish, allowing you to continue on your way.

In some locations, nurikabe is thought to be a manifestation of a mischievous itachi or tanuki. In the case of a tanuki, the wall itself is the animal’s enormous scrotum (!) stretched out across the road to block your way. Imagine bumping into that! (Though it does help explain why hitting the part near the ground would make it disappear… ouch!)

Are you interested in yokai? Can’t get enough of strange Japanese culture? Then you should check out Matthew's book, The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, on Amazon.com and learn the story behind over one hundred of these bizarre monsters!