Halloween: The Jack-o’-Lantern

Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve as it is known by many ancient European countries is something that is celebrated world over. Trick or treaters. Carving pumpkins. Horror movies. All these have the single goal of celebrating the scariest month of the year. This ancient tradition goes all the way back to the Celts who believed that on October 31 the spirits of the dead would return from the Netherworld to walk amongst the living. They dressed up in costumes in an attempt to scare away these apparitions. They believed that by offering gifts of food or decorating their houses with ghastly ornaments they would be able to ward off/appease the spirits. If these offerings were not acceptable or presented the inhabitants of the house would become cursed in various ways. There are other uses these spirits had, but for the purpose of this article I will be having a look at the origins of the Jack-o’-Lantern.

Where did this time-consuming activity first originate. Well, we’ve established above that this was originally Celtic festival. So, who better to know than the Celts?

The Celts never used pumpkins for their Jack-o’-Lanterns, their first Jack-o’-Lantern was used to refer to people. It was only thanks to Irish immigrants that the tradition of using pumpkins came to be practiced as there were no pumpkins in Ireland at the time. Before this came into practice, as far as 1663, Jack-o’-Lanterns referred to a man with a lantern or a night watchmen. A decade later, this came to refer to the mysterious eerie lights spotted over bogs, swamps and marshes at night. These lights came to possess many names jack-o’-lanterns, hinkypunks, hobby lanterns, corpse candles, fairy lights, will-o’-the-wisps and fool’s-fire. This is a by-product of oxidization when gases from decomposing plant matter comes into contact with heat or electricity.

Stingy Jack

Before this scientific discovery, however, the Irish thought up all manner of tales to explain this phenomena–they called him Stingy Jack. Often depicted as a blacksmith, this infamous character invited the devil for a drink. However Stingy Jack had no intention of paying the bill and managed to convince the devil to turn himself into a gold coin to settle the bill. Again, Jack tricked the devil and skipped out on the bill, putting the devil–along with a silver cross to keep him trapped–inside his pocket.

It did not end here Jack proceeded to trick the devil into another act where the devil had to climb a tree. On both occasions the devil was trapped and Jack made him promise not to seek revenge on his soul. So the devil did not, but instead of being allowed through Heaven’s gates as he intended, God forbade him. Jack was left with neither Heaven nor Hell to return to and so his soul was cursed to walk the earth. The devil, upon rejecting Jack’s entrance to hell, gave him a single coal to light his way. He then sent him off into the dark to find his own hell. He put this coal into a carved out a turnip and now wanders earth with it to this day.

The Irish believed that these eerie lights were Jack’s lantern as his lost soul wandered the countryside.

Where Is It Now?

This tradition has come a long way from the Celts all the way into the heart of the western world. It is only now starting to become a big thing in South Africa. In Britain children would trick their friends into thinking they were Stingy Jack and try and scare them. In Britain, this tradition spread to turnips, beets and potatoes that were carved out and stuffed with coal, wooden embers or candles. This done during their fall festival.

In 1800s America, the children used pumpkins to the same end making them more and more grotesque to increase the scare factor. By the end of the 19th century the Jack-o’-Lantern went from being a trick to being a seasonal decoration.

This practice has become a major holiday in America with thousands of children across the continent celebrating it by trick-or-treating.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did researching it. It’s a really fascinating legend.

God bless you all and I trust you will have a blessed day further 🙂

The Tokoloshe

I have heard many stories about this creature. Any South African knows the story of the Tokoloshe. He is supposed to be a little white man that comes into the house of African people at night and kill them. He is a creature from Zulu and Xhosa folklore. African people believe that by putting their beds on bricks the Tokoloshe won’t be able to reach them.

My mother once told me a story about her maid who was murdered in her home with all the windows and doors locked. Her throat was slit which just happened to be the Tokoloshe’s MO. This scared her so much as a child. You can imagine.

I’m sure if you had to talk to any African you would hear stories about the Tokoloshe. He is a very infamous demonic entity in their history. Said to be summoned by a jealous or angry Sangoma, a Tokoloshe is a dead body that is possessed and during this ritual it’s eye is pierced through the socket with a hot rod iron. A special powder is then sprinkled over the body and it shrinks!

I can’t remember if it was my mother or father who told me that the Tokoloshe was a demon summoned by a witch doctor and since then it has been a plague to the African people. Even mentioning its name is enough to bring terror. Once summoned, the Tokoloshe demands a soul as remuneration. The Tokoloshe is the only one who then decides who it will take and not the sangoma who summoned it.

It is said that only children can see this creature, hence its choice to kill adults since they can not see it and thus defend themselves. However, if you do happen to see a Tokoloshe, pay it no heed as it can be mischievous, but ultimately harmless unless under the influence of a powerful sorcerer.

There is even a story of a Afrikaans family living on a farm where they recount the horrific tale of how they were terrorized by a pitch-black dog that was accompanied by what can only be described as a Tokoloshe. They were Christian Afrikaner farmers and they saw it. The person who gave the testimony says that if the Tokoloshe only attacks African people, then why would it have terrorized their family?

Believing in man’s ability to summon demons simply by using a Ouiji board, it is not such a stretch for me to believe that a witch doctor would be able to do the same thing. It is terrifying to think of the things we are capable of. If you’re as big as a fan of haunted houses and ghost stories as I am, you will know what I say is true.

Whatever the price you are willing and the lengths you are willing to go, when it comes to revenge (at least in this case) make sure you dig two graves.

God bless you all, my darling avidReaders! A big thank you for all your support. On Wednesday we reached over 1,000.

Impundulu/Lightning Bird

Known by many names, the Lightning Bird is known across the Pondo, Zulu and Xhosa tribes of South Africa. This creature is feared as blood-drinking like creatures known only in mythology as vampires. This infamous creature is always closely related to witchcraft. It is known to often be the familiar of a witch or witch doctor. Much like a vampire, it is said to take the form of a beautiful young man to lure its master’s enemies or seduce women. Thus you can see why it would be so similar to Dracula.

Much like a dragon is capable of breathing fire, the Lightning Bird can use its own body fat to produce lightning strikes and as valuable components in traditional medicine. It is also claimed to be immortal and often outlives its masters, being passed down from mother to daughter as a continual familiar to its master. It normally manifests itself as lightning, except to young women taking on the form of a bird. It is not known to have any weakness except for one–fire. If you set the Lightning Bird on fire, it can be destroyed.

The hammerkop

The above bird is often associated by some African cultures with the Lightning Bird, despite the actual features of the Lightning Bird taking the form a man-sized bird with black and white feathers. It uses its large talons and claws to summon lightning and thunder. These bird, as they are associated with witches, are said to be symbols of bad luck and can only be dispatched by a witchdoctor. The flesh of a lightning bird is also said to be used to trace thieves and witchdoctors use this ability to maintain control over their tribe–both criminal and law-abiding.

In order for witchdoctors to catch the Lightning Bird, they must wait for it to strike lightning once it does this they are able to capture it. It is also supposed that where they lay strike lightning is also where they lay their eggs. This site can either be blessed or cursed and these eggs need to be dug up and discerned by the witchdoctor whether or not they are blessed or cursed.

It is true that the Pondo, Zulu and Xhosa all fear this creature. I am beginning to notice more and more as I look into my country’s legends that there is a definite pattern to their shared beliefs. All these different cultures believe that these creatures are evil spirits or cursed in some or other way and, also, that they bring only misfortune. This story bears a strong resemblance to the legends of the Thunder Bird which some believe was in fact a pterodactyl. I, myself, have seen drawings of the Thunder Bird as it was described by the North American indigenous peoples and strongly side with those who believe it was a pterodactyl. However, it is for your own discernment whether or not you believe these creatures exist. I have given you the bare facts as I researched them and now leave you with one question: What do I believe?

If you want to share your own opinions on the topic or have some more information you want to share, you can post in the comments or on the forums. 🙂

God bless you all my darling avidReaders.

Mermaids of the Klein Karoo

Courtesy of Pinterest

We all know mermaids are fiction, but let us consider something: What if they were real? What if someone somewhere had seen such a creature? In the past sightings of mermaids have always turned out to be fakes. People who used Photoshop or it was discovered that what was actually see was a manatee or dugong. This is such a frequent mistake that these sea creatures have been classified as Sirenia. This has only brought discredit to the belief that such creatures exist. Still some believe they have seen and heard things to make them believe such creatures exist.

The mermaids of the Klein Karoo are said to lure their victims to their watery deaths. This is backed-up by claims that many unmarked graves have been found–the victims of mermaids. Many associate mermaids with Ariel, but these vicious creatures are nothing like the Little Mermaid. They are in fact tricksters doing everything they can to lure their victims to a watery grave. They possess pale skin, long black hair and red eyes.

One particular place among the windy rivers and roads in the canyon Meiringspoort, just outside the town of De Rust are frequent reports about a mermaid residing nearby one of the rock pools. The area is known by locals to be her home and such sightings are nothing new to them. Many locals have claimed to have spotted a mermaid sitting on the edge of a mountain rock pool combing her long black hair.

The Meiringspoort Flood

In the year 1996, a flood occurred in Meiringspoort. This incident caused a revival in the belief of mermaids. Mermaids are believed by some to be a spirit haunting the area and a clairvoyant even claimed to have contacted one of these spirits. The clairvoyant claimed that the spirit’s name was Eporia. This spirit is claimed to either be a sinister spirit associated with the demonic entities of the Eseljagtspoort outside Oudtshoorn or a victim carried away by the waters of the Meiringspoort flood.

The Khoi-San Rock Paintings

In 1875, a Bushman related to a local farmer the tale of the Eseljagtspoort water spirit. This creature took the form of a woman and lured men only to later drown them in the depths. It is here that one still see rock painting drawn by the Khoi-San of what they know to be mermaids. These depictions lead us to believe that tales of these mythological creatures have been around for centuries. When asked about these creatures(also known as the Watermeid) locals were terrified, speaking in hushed whispers. They were fearful of these vicious creatures and feared that they would become the mermaid’s next victim. These stories and drawings can be seen and heard all over the Klein Karoo and the Khoi-San people’s rock paintings are found in Eseljagtspoort, just outside the town of Oudtshoorn.

What is a Mermaid?

Well, we know what a mermaid’s physical features are: face of a beautiful woman, lovely long hair, torso of a woman with her lower abdomen and legs replaced by the tail of a fish. However, there has been much discussion in folklore about these sirens of the sea. As children we all were raised with the story of the Little Mermaid with her lovely singing voice causing a handsome prince to fall in love with her. Now, as adults, we watch Pirates of the Caribbean and the series Siren, causing us to question whether what we know of mermaids are true or not. The Greeks had their priestesses of the Isle of Pleasure. Pirates believed that the siren’s song was to fear as they would drag you to the depths. In the series Grimm, they are depicted as beautiful women who can only have children with human men. Every culture will no doubt have their own take on these mythical beings–all with their own unique names and varying attributes. I have only mentioned a few depictions, but, if one has to go into all the different mythologies concerning these creatures, you will no doubt find many similarities. This is enough to make us wonder if mermaids are real? Are they perhaps manifestations of evil spirits as the Buhsman told the farmer? Or is it just that they are falsely identified? There will always be speculation around them. I, personally am more likely to believe the Bushman’s story and lean towards them being evil spirits. You will notice with my writing that I strongly believe that a lot of what we imagine to be ghosts, dwarves or aliens are demonic manifestations. This is just my opinion on the subject and I am, by no means, a professor of Cryptozoology. Thus I cannot claim to know everything about the field. So, I encourage you to dig deep and draw your own conclusions.

As always, I love hearing what you have to say about my articles and what you believe. So, if you have any opinions on this topic or perhaps have your own story to tell, please put it in the comments. I would love to hear!

Good night all my darling avidReaders. God bless you as you awake to another bright day tomorrow.

The Congo’s Biloko

Artistic depiction of two Biloko facing a warrior.

This particular legend isn’t exactly in my backyard, but while researching the article I was going to write, I came across this legend and I was so struck by this creature that I had to write about it. I spoke in a previous article about the Skinwalker and the Eloko scared me as much as the Skinwalker. So, naturally, I decided to look deeper into this terrifying creature. It is a known fact that a large majority of the Congo is yet to be explored and, though I can’t say for fact whether the Eloko exists or not, I can say that most legends are based on some or other experience with the mentioned legend. Why would the Nkundo’s Eloko be any different?

According the natives of the Congo (the Nkundo), the Eloko (plural: Biloko) are the dark side of the Knocker from the Welsh miner’s tales. These creatures are considered to be spirits that unresolved issues. it takes the form of a dwarf, but has the spirit of ancestors with grudges. They are said to live in the densest and darkest parts of the forest of Zaire. These spirits are also known to fiercely defend their treasures of the Zaire forest. Only the most daring of hunters and explorers dare to go near where the Biloko are known to live as they fiercely defend the game and rare fruits these hunters and explorers are in search of. Very few hunters have ever had any successful hunts in the regions where the Biloko dwell. Hunters that go into the Zaire rainforest wear amulets and fetishes which are sacred objects that repel the Biloko from attacking them. These same objects lift the spell of the Biloko allowing them to see the game normally hidden by the Biloko’s protective spell.

These dwarf-like demons have no hair (having grass in place of hair) and don themselves with the grass and leaves of the forest. They live in the trees of the rainforest. The Biloko, as well as being a dwarf-like creature, have terrifying, piercing eyes. They also have snouts emitting a piercing cry that compel humans, dead or alive. With their long, sharp claws they are known to tear into human flesh in fact, it is said that they prefer the tender flesh of a woman.

Sometimes depicted as trolls, Biloko are known to carry a bell around their neck with which they can bewitch and attract humans. Don’t let their size deceive you; Biloko are far stronger than they look and only heroes and sorcerers can resist them.

These creatures have also been used as a fable to stress to men the importance of caring for their wives and to be cautious of the dangers of the forest. Biloko are also sometimes used to represent various gangrenous diseases, since these eventually eat their victims away. The Biloko is said to end at their victim’s liver where they the Nkundo believe the spirit resides. There are many stories the Nkundo can tell of this terrible creature, below I have attached a story I read in Cryptid Wiki.

“One day a hunter took his wife, at her insistence, into the forest, where he had a hut with a palisade around it. When he went out to inspect his traps, he told her: “When you hear a bell, do not move. If you do, you will die!” Soon after he had left, she heard the charming sound of a little bell coming closer, for the Eloko has a good nose for feminine flesh. Finally, a gentle voice asked to be let in to his room. It was like the voice of a child. The woman opened the door and there was an Eloko, smelling like the forest, looking small and innocent. She offered him banana mash with fried fish but he refused: “We eat only human meat. I have not eaten for a long time. Give me a piece of your arm.” At last the woman consented, totally under the spell of the Eloko. That night, the husband found her bones.”

This creature bears shocking similarities to so many legends across the world. It would seem that way or another we have all heard similar stories with slight differences. As I mentioned above, the Biloko bears resemblance to the Knockers of Welsh folklore in physical features and bear the same characteristics of departed souls that have not made peace yet and thus can’t move on.

A cautionary tale indeed. Even though we may not believe in the Eloko legend, it poses a very serious question: “What happens to me after I die?” When you close your eyes, will you die wishing you had made right with the people you had hurt or forgiven those who have hurt you? In the end, once you die, there will be no going back.

God bless you all my darling avidReaders.

Maria Roux–The Uniondale Hitchhiker.

Maria Roux ghost

It has been brought to my attention that I have a wealth of urban legends in my own country that I have yet to share with all of you.

The Karoo can be a beautiful place, but for one stretch of road that has intrigued and perturbed many South Africans. If you are a fan of haunted houses, ghosts and other paranormal phenomenon, you may very well already know of Maria Roux–known as the Uniondale Hitchhiker.

Maria Roux

Uniondale Road Hitchhiker

Maria Roux was a lovely young woman who was engaged to a Mr. G.M. Pretorius. Unfortunately, poor Maria would never see her wedding day. While travelling in the car with her fiancé from Graaf Reneit to Riversdal on 12th April 1968, Maria had fallen asleep in the back of the car. While fast asleep, Maria and her fiancé were in a car accident. Her fiancé survived, but Maria was not so fortunate. A year later her fiancé got married and that was when the first sighting of Maria occurred.

Since the late 1960s there have been many sightings of Maria. So much in fact that she became infamized in the movie The Curse of Highway Sheila. All the reports indicate that Maria waits, on the road where she was killed, for passing motorists to give her a lift. When they stop and offer her a lift, thinking she’s a normal hitchhiker, she climbs in. After a few kilometers, they hear a laugh, feel an icy breeze inside the car and then she is gone.

These incidences only occurred for a about 20 years. It seems that upon the death of G.M. Pretorius (in a car accident as it turns out) these appearances stopped almost instantly. It would seem that after so many years of haunting, Maria has finally found peace.

Maria’s story is short, but unnerving as any of her victims can attest. Of the many ghost stories and hauntings few found peace like Maria. It would seem she could only rest soundly once she had seen her fiancé die in the same fashion she had.

I will be investigating some horror stories from my own backyard. Most of these stories still linger in modern day South Africa like the tale of poor Maria Roux.

God bless all of you today, my darling avidReaders.

Are Dragons Real?

Scientific American Blogs

Many people think of dragons as winged serpents breathing fire and then eating the ashes, but the ancient texts only ever to dragons as huge reptiles. It was only in the later texts that ‘dragon’ would be replaced by the word ‘dinosaur’. Evolutionists would have you believe that these creatures are extinct and that they died before man even came to be, but the question is rather a simple one: If so, then why…? Why do we still see these magnificent creatures? Why do they wash up dead on our shores? Why do people in certain parts of the U.S. see Pterodactyls? And what is going on in the Congo? Why do certain villages in Kenya bury their dead deeper than usual?

All these questions and many more are raised by people all over the world. You’re all probably thinking, “If dinosaurs (dragons) are real, then why aren’t UFOs?” Well, I can’t account for UFOs, but I can say that I have never had the honour of seeing a dragon up close. From those who have, it appears as normal as air in our lungs. Then, there’s all the evidence of man and dinosaurs living side-by-side. In China, they have records of an emperor who used dragons to pull his chariots on special occasions. There are even records of a family in China that raised them for their blood and body parts to be used as medicine. Explorers and great ancient philosophers from all over the world write of dragons existing.

Alexander the Great on his explorations in India said that many of his men were frightened off by great dragons living in caves. Alexander, however, was not the only explorer to have encountered these creatures. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles recorded in 793 A.D. they are quoted as saying that a terrible warning came over the Northumbrians of “great flashes of light across the sky, and whirlwinds, and fire breathing dragons.” In France they have records of a water dragon coming out of the water of the Seine River. This dragon appeared harmless as it did not breathe fire, but soon after it laid waste to parts of France. This dragon was hunted down, brought back to where they had found it and was beheaded. The dragon’s head was mounted on a building. This dragon was named ‘La Gargouille’ and from it came ‘gargoyle’ which are common in French architecture.

The Ica Stones of Peru

We’ve all heard of the Ica Stones and the Nasca Drawings. There are many interesting things depicted on the Ica Stones. There’s drawings showing surgery, their daily lives as well as dragons. Now, why would they have drawn that there if they’d never seen dragons before? Is it perhaps that the people who created these stones knew of dragons? Something to ponder at least.

Other Evidence

The Ica Stones aren’t the only evidence we have of these creatures. Civilizations all over the world have tales of dragons and the havoc they have caused. 2000 years ago, Gilgamesh wrote of a particular dragon that guarded the Cedar Forest of Amanus in Mesopotamia. Having powerful legs like that of a lion, the talons of a vulture, with a head bearing bull’s horns and a tail like a serpent. This creature they called Humbaba and he is sometimes depicted as human-like figure with scales on his back and the ability to breathe fire. He almost resembles a Stegosaurus in description, but since the stories can’t seem to agree on his physical characteristics it would be quite difficult to give an exact description of Humbaba.

The Loch Ness Monster and Other Famous Dragons

We all know this famous Scottish legend. So many stories surround the Scottish Loch. With the great depths the loch reaches, the possibility of a sea monster in the loch is not strange. For over a century locals have reported sightings and over the years the number of sightings continued.

I remember reading one particular story of a young boy and his friends who were out on the Loch, I can’t remember for certain if they were out looking for Nessie or if they were just out wind-surfing, whatever the reason they were out on the Loch. At some point they hit something and were capsized. Once capsized, they found themselves swimming blind in the fog. They called after each other and started swimming in the general direction of shore, but this was where their trip took a dark turn. Suddenly, they heard someone screaming and then another one of them screaming that something had got their friend. They immediately knew what had happened–Nessie had got one of them. They started to swim frantically towards the shore. Then came another cry and the last of his friends screaming that it had taken another of his friends down. After a while the boy realized that everything was quiet. He called for his friend, but heard nothing. It was then that he realized he was alone. He made it to shore crying for his friends that had been taken by Nessie. He told everyone what had happened. Sadly, his is probably not the only story like this.

Pterodactyls/Pterosaur

These amazing winged creatures have been spotted multiple times in American states such as Texas, Ohio and other states in America. Stone carvings further add to the question of whether or not some of these amazing creatures may still exist. There have been spikes in sightings of these winged creatures in North Carolina this year. Most scientists have refused to accept that these creatures could still exist as it would contradict all that they claim to be true, but when so many are seeing the same thing you have to question whether or not they are right about all their theories. I mentioned above that the locals in Kenya bury their dead deep down otherwise they feel that Kongamato will come and dig up the bodies and eat them. They also have said that Kongamato lives deep in the caves.

Mokele Mbembi

Possibly the most famous creature in recent news. Tales of Mokele Mbembi were only discovered when Christian missionaries went into the Congo to speak the locals about Christ. They told stories of their encounters with what appeared to be a hybrid between a Plesiosaurus and a Brachiosaurus. This creature has been getting a lot coverage in the news. Since the discovery of 6 new species of frog and bat, many have wondered about whether or not this creature exists. Some parts of the Congo are still difficult to explore for various reasons and this makes it seem enticing to explorers. Could it be that those regions are where Mokele Mbembi is now hiding?

Conclusion

In reality all we will ever know is what people say to be true. If we want to know for ourselves we need to go out there and see for ourselves, but until then, we live and wonder if these people are just imagining it or is there more to this than we think. Whatever you choose to believe, I believe they are out there. Maybe they aren’t as big and scary as holiday portrays them, but as I mentioned in my article on extinct creatures (see Science and Medicine articles) the environment has had a major effect on their growth. History tell us that man has always walked with dragons/dinosaurs and thousands say that they still do.

So, avidReaders, I pose this question to you: What do you believe? Let me know in the comments what you think. I’d love to know.

God bless you all my dear avidReaders. Have a blessed week 🙂

We are the Hollow Men, We are the Stuffed Men

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DqMw0zbX4AATZDk.jpg

Anyone who’s done T.S Eliot in school knows this reference. It’s one of my favourite poems and I quote it regularly. At the end of this I will post a link to the poem. It’s long, but a glorious poem. I’m writing this because of World Literacy Day and what better way to celebrate it than to discuss the kings and queens of the written word? Polls have been conducted over the years to find out the best authors, but I will be looking at the foundation of all these writers. Women like Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte, Louise May Alcott and Jane Austen. Men like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charles Dickens. All these authors, among others, have built the foundation for every writer in the world. Whether you are writing scripts, novels, poems or short stories these men and women will have had an impact on your words.

I can say for a fact that as someone who has been writing and reading classics as long as I have that these authors have not only changed my writing style, but also to some degree my general speech. After reading A Tale of Two Cities, I found myself speaking better, writing better and in general a better person. The thoughts and principles written into these novels were so much more than just words on a page. They were the thoughts, beliefs, hopes and dreams of their authors. They put their souls onto the pages of their works. I think authors nowadays have lost that. We read fast paced books and very seldom do they have any depth. There are quite a few authors that stand out from these modern writers. Writers like Stephen King, Justin Cronin and Patricia Cornwall truly have a passion for their craft and their books are not only well-researched, but also cause us to ask ourselves important questions about who we are as humans. Patricia Cornwall talks to us about the dark side of what men are capable of, while Stephen King shows us the horrors of the mind. All three of these authors, among no doubt others, gave us unique perspective into the hearts and minds of their characters.

All of these writers were inspired by the greats that went before. Frankenstein and Dracula were the pioneers in the field of horror, just like Shakespeare brought plays into the limelight. All these great authors built the foundations we, as writers, stand on. In honor of these masters of literature, I am going to provide a list of 10 classics worth a read.

  1. Mary Shelley. The first woman to write a horror novel, she wrote mostly about her experiences in her life. If you have watched her biographical movie and read Frankenstein, you will see a lot of her own pain and self-loathing in the pages of this classic. If you love horror and classics, read Frankenstein.
  2. Jane Austen. Austen had written many love stories in her life, though herself never ever marrying. She wrote famous classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. Emma, the last of these was remade into a film last year.
  3. George Orwell. Orwell, known for his famous works, Animal Farm and 1984, wrote on his views concerning politics and his fear of a dystopian future where mankind will be brainwashed and become sheep following what an elite few dictate to them. Both are great reads and I recommend either if you’re up for a satisfying read.
  4. Charles Dickens. Perhaps one of the greatest writers you will ever read. His books are filled with adventure, tragedy, love and redemption. He is a man who causes you to appreciate what you have in life and how to cherish it. He wrote about the suffering of the commoners in his time and emphasized this profusely in all his literature.
  5. Leo Tolstoy. A man who showed the upper class as selfish and morally corrupt. Anna Karenina and War and Peace are perhaps his two most famous works. He writes deeply moralistic, almost religious, novels wherein he shows the differences in the mindset of the classes.
  6. Harper Lee. Only ever publishing one book in her lifetime, she quickly became one of the most famous female authors. Her book To Kill a Mockingbird became a set book in every school and a stark reminder of how, as Atticus puts it, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This became the cornerstone for the whole novel. She later goes on to write that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. “‘Your father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.'” In this quote, she demonstrates that bigotry is hurting something that is beautiful and peaceful for no reason.
  7. F. Scott Fitzgerald. We all know him as the man who wrote the famous book The Great Gatsby. Truly a masterpiece. He writes on the tragedy of a man pursuing a life of wealth and fame simply to be with the woman he loved, however later we find her to have married a pig of a man simply for his money. Fitzgerald offers us a cautionary tale on the futility of wealth.
  8. Herbert George (H.G.) Wells. Known as the father of science fiction. If you’ve read my previous post on H.G and Jules, you will know these men were great geniuses in their time. H.G.’s greatest works include The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau and War of the Worlds.
  9. Lewis Carroll. Carroll was the famous author of the two children’s stories Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass. These books are made for the enjoyment of children, but as adults there is plenty we can learn from Alice. At one point or other we’ve lost our ability to dream of the impossible. If you are up for some light reading, Carroll’s works are just for you.
  10. Agatha Christie. Known for her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie took the writing world by storm with a flurry of Poirot, Miss Marple and stand alone novels that became instant best-sellers. Her movie Murder on the Orient Express has been release as a movie and now her novel Death on the Nile is due in theaters later this year. Along with the release of these two famous novels have been a volley of mini-series all based on her novels. All her books were released as series with the famous actor David Suchet in the part of Poirot. If you’ve never read any of her novels, I recommend you read one of her stand alone novels, Endless Night.

I’ve given you quite a long list, but I have read or seen the movies for all these novels. I can tell you from personal experience these books are definitely worth a read.

God bless you, all my darling avidReaders. 🙂

H.G. & Jules: Two Men Who Predicted the Future

You may recognize this from the first Thor movie. It takes place during an argument between scientists Jane Foster and Erik Selvig. Despite Selvig’s clear opinion on the topic of science-fiction, there are many cases where he has been found to be flawed in his opinions of science and “magic” as he calls it. I have decided to broach this topic using two of my favourite science fiction authors: H.G Wells and Jules Verne. If you ever watched or read War of the Worlds and/or Journey to the Center of the Earth, you will know who these two famous authors are and the genius they put into their works.

A Brief History of H.G.

H.G Wells; Photograph by George Charles Beresford,

Herbert George Wells, born September 21st 1866, wrote dozens of novels, short stories and poems. He was an English writer and remembered to this day as the “father of science fiction” (a distinction he shared with Jules Verne). H.G. had a tendency to write futuristic, dystopian novels in which he wrote on such ideas as air-crafts and hybridization–this we now know to be possible and are in fact pursuing these same fields of genetic modification. Back in H.G.’s days, such things would be considered impossible, but without Verne and Wells, there’d be no such inventions today. Wells’ earliest training was in biology and his ideas on ethics came from Darwinian influence as well as his standing as a socialist from his early days. He was most notable for his works The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds. Sadly, his career was brought to a an end when he died in August 13th of the year 1946.

A Brief History of Jules

Jules Verne; Photograph by Étienne Carjat, c. 1884

Born Jules Gabriel Verne on 8 September 1828, he went on to become a French novelist, poet and playwright. Three of his most famous works came out of a collaboration he did with the publisher Piere-Jules Hetzel–his famous Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. He also shared the title of the “father of science-fiction” with the above mentioned author, H.G. Through a mutual acquaintance, Verne met and became close friends with Alexandre Dumas, famous author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Through all of this, Verne continued his studies in law, despite his clear disdain for society as made evident in his work, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Verne’s career as a writer ended in the year 1905, when he died of diabetes. In honour of this great writer, the street he lived in was named after him (Boulevard Jules-Verne). His works continue to inspire us even after his death. In the year 1994, his great-grandson found Verne’s last manuscript Paris in the Twentieth Century in the attic of his home. Soon after he published the last work his great-grandfather would ever write.

How They Determined our Future

There are definitely many authors who have inspired us for all kinds of reasons, but when it comes to early science and predicting the future only two men stand out for me: Herbert George Wells and Jules Gabriel Verne. Two men who explored the unknown. They stretched their minds and dreamed of a future where men would travel the seas in submarines, travel the air in flying machines and travel to the moon. In the novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, Wells explored a science we, now, are only beginning to comprehend. Namely–cloning and hybridization of living organisms. While Jules questioned what existed in the center of the earth, Wells explored what the future would look like. His predictions were shockingly accurate. Wells foresaw a world where we would exchange the Earth for our own so-called happiness. Verne also knew this and desired to hide away from the rest of the world. Captain Nemo’s views on mankind are what we are only now experiencing. So we see that these men predicted the future in ways they will never know. They have inspired generations of scientists from all over the world and undoubtedly will cause us to question the world around us.

These were bold, questioning minds that challenged the norms of science, just like Verne’s very own Phileas Fogg, who strove for the advancement of science. However, let’s not just look at their grasp on science, but acknowledge their knowledge of man’s base nature. Both these men saw the world as plainly as we see our own reflection.

In Conclusion….

I am going to refer to Jane and Erik’s argument in the beginning of this article. Jane was right. Science fiction will always be a prelude to science fact. If man can imagine it, he will do whatever it takes to accomplish it. We dreamed of the moon and travelling the stars, so we built rockets and explored aeronautics. We wondered what secrets lay in the depths of our seas, so we invented scuba suits and submarines. As I mentioned above there are many brave authors with just as much curiosity as H.G and Jules. These people changed the world. Whether it’s for the good or bad, who can say? I just know, that these men saw possibilities no other human being at the time could’ve.

So listen closely when I say this, my darling avidReaders, question everything. Don’t just accept it because everyone else says it’s true or because science says it’s correct. Look beyond, get your own hands dirty. If you don’t, you may miss out on the chance to cure cancer or pioneer the next generation of robotics. Get digging!

As always, God bless and have a lovely week ahead! 😀

Cursed Paintings

Image supplied by http://courageousgirlsclub.com/cgc-blog

I heard over the weekend about a painting that was associated with various suspicious activities. A friend had this painting in his house and his accounts correlated with various other witness reports. It got me wondering about this painting and how many others there are out there. I’m going to start out with his testimony in his own words concerning the events around his cursed painting.

“…we had one in our house when I was a baby and well weird and wounded **** happened there and we had a fire in that house…I don’t know the full story [I] was too young but when I got older strange things did happen [and I] heard someone walking around but there was no one. Also heard knocking on walls and stuff like that.”

There are many others out there. These paintings, despite their value as artworks, are almost impossible to sell because of the stigma attached to them.

THE CRYING BOY by Giovanni Bragolin, 1950.

The painting my friend owned is the one famously known as ‘The Crying Boy’. The painting is below.

THE CRYING BOY. IMAGE COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA

This painting was completed in the 1950s by Giovanni Bragolin. Giovanni apparently painted 60 different paintings. Prints and reprints of these paintings have continued into the 80s. These copies all depicted crying children. Howevere, in 1985, these copies stopped. There was an incident in Rotherham which was publicized by The Sun. This incident involved a fire breaking out in May and Ron Hall’s home. This was attributed to chips left frying on the stove. In the years that followed, the painting became well known for attracting fire and misery in boys. Firefighters also report that when responding to these incidents, the paintings always remain unscathed.

A fellow blogger of the unknown shared this testimony with me:

“When I was a young child in the 70s, I became fascinated by a painting in my grandmother’s house. The painting was a cheap print of a well-known piece, and was hung on the living room wall of her small terraced house. The reason I was so fascinated was that the picture depicted a child. The boy was a similar age to me and for some reason looked sad and downcast, tears brimming from his troubled eyes. I was so attached to the painting I even gave the sad child a name. A few years after the painting went up on the wall, there was a devastating kitchen fire in the house. While the kitchen was destroyed, the rest of the house was undamaged. Despite this, the painting of the boy was removed and thrown into a skip along with the contents of the kitchen. For years it puzzled me why my grandmother did this until I read a series of articles about a cursed painting. That painting was ‘The Crying Boy’.” –Exemplore; Hubpages. If you want to know more, go onto her profile at “https://exemplore.com.”

LOVE LETTERS by Andrew King

LOVE LETTERS. Image provided by “culturacolectiva.com

In the Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas. Viewers of this painting have some weird things to report. Some claim when they looked directly at it, they felt dizzy or sick. Some viewers have even claimed to have levitated when they closed their eyes to look away from this painting. This painting was created by painter Andrew King. In the year 1887, Samantha Houston, the 4-year old daughter of a US Senator fell to her death down a flight of stairs. Some say that due to her near resemblance to the girl in the painting, her spirit haunts the hotel. It’s been said that the expression on the painting sometimes changes and the phantom of a little girl playing with a ball has also been spotted.

THE HANDS RESIST HIM by Bill Stoneham

THE HANDS RESIST HIM/eBAY HAUNTED PAINTING

Painted in 1972, by Bill Stoneham, “Hands Resist Him” has become famously known as the “eBay Haunted Painting”. It depicts a boy and girl doll standing in front of a shop window. According to Stoneham, the little boy is based on a photo of himself at age 5. The doorway is a dividing line between the real world and the realm of impossibility. The little girl is a guide into this unknown world, whilst the hands represent parallel worlds or possibilities. The painting is supposedly cursed and was first displayed in the 1970s as Stoneham’s sole work. The first claim to its haunting was after it was purchased by a couple off eBay. In the painting’s eBay description, the couple made various startling claims. The description led to a wildfire online and before long everyone was talking about the Hands Resist Him. Amidst the speculation surrounding this painting was reports that its first gallery owner as well as its first art critic were said to have been supposedly killed by the painting.

eBay Description.

“When we received this painting, we thought it was really good art. A “PICKER ” had found it abandoned behind an old brewery. At the time we wondered a little why a seemingly perfectly fine painting would be discarded like that. ( TODAY WE DON’T !!! ) One morning our 4 and 1/2 year old daughter claimed, that the children in the picture were fighting, and coming into the room during the night. Now, I don’t believe in UFOs or Elvis being alive, but my husband was alarmed. To my amusement he set up a motion triggered camera for the nights. After three nights there were pictures. The last two pictures shown are from that ‘stakeout’. After seeing the boy seemingly exiting the painting under threat, we decided, the painting has to go. Please judge for yourself…”

For the full report go to https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/hands-resist-him-ebay-haunted-painting

I have only mentioned three such disturbing paintings, but there are so many out there. In future, I hope to cover the paintings I was unable to in this post. Check out the attached links for more info on these cursed paintings.

God bless you all my avidReaders.