History

10 Historical Facts About Enochian - the Language of Angels and the Occult

The world has over 6,000 languages, but how often have you heard Enochian? The Enochian language is a researched but still mysterious form of communication allegedly handed down from the angels themselves. Named for the biblical figure Enoch, the Enochian language has become a means of magic for the world of the Occult, although its validity has come into question over the years.

Recently the Enochian language became a hot topic on The Confessionals, as a guest shared their experience discovering the language while on a secret military mission aboard a peculiar, checkerboard-patterned aircraft. (Take a listen to Episode 122: Secret Military Enochian Language to hear his unsettling account.) So how did the Enochian language develop, and does it still have relevance? Here are 10 historical facts that shed light on this alternately angelic and satanic language:

1) Enochian is an occult or angelic language that was recorded in the private journals of John Dee and his colleague Edward Kelley in late 16th-century England. Dee was a man of science-turned-magic seeker, and Kelley was a spirit medium who worked with Dee in his magical investigations. The men claimed that the mystical language was revealed to them by the Enochian angels. It is also referred to as Celestial Speech, Angelical, The First Language of God-Christ, and Adamical, because they believed it was the language first used by Adam and Eve - perhaps even the language God used to speak everything into being.

John Dee performing an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I. Oil painting by Henry Gillard Glindoni. 1913 (Wikimedia Commons)

2) Dr. John Dee, born in 1527, was an occultist, mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I who originally had little interest in the supernatural. Later on in his career, he became disillusioned with science and began experimenting with the occult. He believed he could recover lost spiritual wisdom in books of antiquity, among them the Book of Enoch.

3) The term Enochian comes from the Biblical figure Enoch. According to the Bible, Enoch lived 365 years before being taken up to Heaven - without dying. Genesis 5:24 says that he “walked with God” and Hebrews 11:5 states he “was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death.” He is one of two biblical figures, the other being the prophet Elijah, who left the Earth in this undead manner. John Dee believed Enoch was the last human to have known and used the language of angels.

4) In 1581, John Dee wrote in his personal journal that God had sent “Good Angels” to communicate directly with mankind. By the following year he was collaborating with seer and scryer Edward Kelley to communicate with these angels. They recorded hundreds of spirit conversations in their journals, including what they claimed was an angelic language called Enochian. composed of non-English letters, but bears very similar syntax and grammar to that of the English language.

The Enochian alphabet. Image from Temple Illuminatus.

5) According to Dee and Kelley, The Enochian Alphabet was revealed to them during their “scrying sessions”, when various texts and tables were received from angels.  Scrying is a technique used by seers, psychics, and sorcerers to foretell the future and involves gazing into a reflective surface to supernaturally receive messages from other entities.

6) There are two different versions of the Enochian Alphabet, with one script differing slightly from the other. The first version is found in Dee’s own journals, and the second, which is generally the more accepted version, is in the book Liber Loagaeth, which features Kelley’s original drawings of the Alphabet. Though Enochian is composed of non-English letters, it bears very similar syntax and grammar to that of the English language. The Enochian letters do have English letter equivalents, but some letters are pronounced the same as in English while others are not. Computer analysis has also shown Enochian to have a grammatical relationship to English. Unlike English, however, the Enochian script is written from right to left.

Necromancy: The art of conjuring the dead and communicating with them, image of John Dee and Edward Kelley. From Astrology (1806) by Ebenezer Sibly. ( Wikipedia.org)

7) Due to the loss of parts of John Dee’s original manuscripts over the decades, the meaning, validity, and authenticity behind the Enochian language has been called into question. There at some magicians that believe it to really be the oldest language in the world, predating all other human languages. Some circles consider it among the most powerful strains of magic and methods of contacting intelligences from other dimensions. Disbelievers in either magic or Enochian itself contest that the foundation of Enochian is so close to that of Dee and Kelley’s native English language that is it surely their own, and not a divine, invention. A number of linguists who studied it have noted discrepancies in Enochian that reveal it is not a consistent language.

8) More modern day occultists have also found it difficult to reconstruct the Enochian system, although progress has been made by studying the original manuscripts found in the Sir Hans Sloane collection. From these studies, there have emerged individuals and groups who have created a functional system of magic, including occultists like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, and founder of the church of Satan, Anton LaVey, who have used and popularized the Enochian language to certain extents.

9) In pop culture, the 1994 movie Stargate incorporated Enochian letters as the glyphs used to operate the arc angle. The Stargate film also focuses heavily on interstellar teleportation and ancient Egyptian culture. Interestingly, the movie debuted one year before the United States remote viewing program, known as “Stargate”, became public. 

An Enochian chess board, with symbols, created by The Game Crafter.

10) Another aspect of modern Enochian magic is Enochian chess. Enochian chess is both a game and a divination tool, derived from the original tablets of John Dee. It is a complex system that requires a strong foundation in the study of the Qabalah, Geomancy, Tarot, Alchemy, and Astrology. Chess, a game of ancient origins, has a debatably occult-related subtext as an elaborate and interconnected system of coded messages for those who are trained in its interpretation. To learn more about how the game of Chess relates to the occult, click here to read “Ask a Wizard: What is the Occult Secret of Chess?”

With this knowledge, it is even more interesting for us to note how in Episode 122, the guest describes the outside of the aircraft, in which he discovered the Enochian language in use, to be designed with a black checkerboard pattern. Was the outside of the aircraft itself a form of communication or identification for someone (or something) familiar with the Enochian system? For now the answer remains as mysterious as Enochian itself.

The information above was supplied by Bryan Hill’s article Enoch: The Mysterious Lost Language of Angels and Wikipedia.

Ghost Stories from 7 Haunted Libraries Around the World

April 7 through 13 is National Library Week in the US, and we’re honoring the occasion by bringing you ghost stories from haunted libraries all around the world! Much like the iconic library scene in the movie Ghostbusters, these literary atheneums are stacked with creepy ghosts, shadow figures, and paranormal activity. Not only do we love tales of the paranormal, we also think circulation of some library appreciation is long overdue, so please check out these 7 haunted libraries around the world before we reference another bad library pun!

7) STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA - MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Dating back to 1854, there’s no surprise that Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria has more than a few resident ghosts. The Arts section of the library is reportedly home to the ghost of a former librarian named Grace. Said to be a benevolent elderly spirit, she continues to keep an eye on the place and make sure that a more confronting spectre, who roams the southern end of the closed Arts stack, stays in his place. The Music room is frequented by a nattily-dressed mustachioed ghost who is known to leave music books out of place after he is finished perusing them. The ghost stories of the State Library are so numerous that many clairvoyants have been brought in, and Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop owner Drew Stinton is keen to get the building included on the city’s tour of haunted locales. - From The Paperblanks Blog

6) COMBERMERE ABBEY LIBRARY - CHESHIRE, ENGLAND

The library at Combermere Abbey, near Cheshire, England, is said to be haunted. The ghost is rumored to be Lord Combermere himself, who died in 1891 after being run over by a horse-drawn carriage. After members of the Abbey staff reported possible ghost sightings and other paranormal activity, a photographer set up a camera in the library. The camera's shutter was left open for one hour.

The staff could claim no involvement with the photo-taking, as they were all at Lord Combermere's funeral, which took place four miles from his home. And yet, when the plate was developed, a ghostly image appeared, seated in the Lord's favorite chair.

To the modern eye, the photo may well appear to be a simple double exposure. But many people at the time were convinced that a ghost had been captured on film. - From Ranker

5) PEORIA PUBLIC LIBRARY - PEORIA, ILLINOIS

Long before the Peoria Public Library was ever built in Peoria, IL, a house stood on its site. In the 1830s, a Mrs. Gray owned the home, but fell upon hard times and could not pay her mortgage. The bank foreclosed, and she was forced to leave. But before she did, Mrs. Gray is said to have put a curse on the propertyand anyone who would ever own it. Whether it was her curse or just coincidental bad luck, each subsequent owner experienced a sinking of their fortunes.

The library was built in 1894 on land that was once part of Mrs. Gray's estate. That's when truly creepy things began to happen. Each of the first three library directors suffered mysterious deaths. The original library was torn down in 1966 and replaced with a new structure, but the eerie occurrences continued. Staff have reported hearing ghostly voices calling out their names, and feeling the temperature drop to chilling degrees. Some also claim to have seen the ghostly figure of one of the dead library directors. - From Ranker

4) THE AFRICANA LIBRARY - KIMBERLY, SOUTH AFRICA

The Africana Library in Kimberly, South Africa is said to be haunted by the spirit of a man who once worked there. The library was built in 1882, but it wasn't until the early 1900s that the city was able to hire a credentialed librarian. His name was Bertrand Dyer, and while he was qualified for the prestigious position, he soon began to engage in a type of fraud. He would place orders for books, but inflate the price list presented to the city for payment. Dyer pocketed the extra cash.

But his scam was discovered, and Dyer was so ashamed that he decided to commit suicide. He took cyanide, but it did not have the immediate desired effect. He suffered in great pain for three days before succumbing in the library where he worked.

The library is now a museum, and visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a man in Edwardian attire, floating up and down the halls of the building. Some have observed him rearranging books on their shelves. Others claim that if they are having trouble locating a particular book, Dyer will help out by knocking it off the shelf. - From Ranker

3) BELLWOOD ELEMENTARY LIBRARY - BELLWOOD, NEBRASKA

Why is it that one of the creepiest-sounding apparitions appears at the library with the most innocent patrons? Bellwood School District was founded in Bellwood, Nebraska in 1880. Students at the elementary school need to walk quietly through its library stacks, so as not to disturb the ghost of a severely burned woman who reportedly haunts the building, often seen staring out of windows in anger or despair. The library seems to be the site of other paranormal activity too, including scary noises, unexplained sudden cold spots, and the sound of jingling keys. At night, hopefully after all the elementary children are safe at home, ghostly figures have been witnessed patrolling the halls around the library. While the reasons behind the Bellwood Elementary hauntings have not been uncovered, there are reportedly some records from Bellwood’s past that document concerns over the use of coal-burning stoves in the building. Could this historical detail offer an explanation about the ghost of the burned woman? - Lindsay Merkel

2) PHOENIXVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY - PHOENIXVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

In the community of Phoenixville, the Phoenixville Public Library is a facility with a rich and notoriously haunted history. The library first came into existence in 1896 as a small collection of books donated to the Phoenixville School District. In 1901, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated funds to purchase a plot and construct the public library building. A children’s section of the library was added to the basement in the 1920s, and the following decades saw continual increases in the library’s collection and facility.

Although there is little information available about why or how the Phoenixville Public Library became haunted, it has been so for as long as anyone can remember. Several apparitions have been reported over the years, both by employees and library patrons. The original librarian, an old woman in ghostly form, is reported to reside in the library’s attic. A little girl is believed to haunt the children’s library in the basement, and sometimes the elevator leading down to it. And the specter of an old man and his dog have been sighted, inexplicably strolling through the library shelves.

One employee, who worked at Phoenixville Library for 17 years, witnessed several examples of paranormal activity during his tenure, including how, after he had carefully pushed in the library’s chairs at closing time, they were found scattered all around the Carnegie Room the following morning. Rocking chairs have also been spotted rocking with no one in them, cold spots have been felt, doors were heard shutting on their own, and fleeting figures have been glimpsed.

Phoenixville Public Library has been the site of several paranormal investigations, and teams have reported lots of unexplained equipment malfunctions during filming; one team member who was attempting to film a “mockumentary” project on site even alleged that he dropped something in the attic, which disappeared and was never seen again! When the Chester County Paranormal Research Society spent the night in the library, a night surveillance camera reportedly to caught a book flying off a shelf.

Having personally visited this library many times, I never experienced any paranormal activity while inside, but I can say that there is something eerie behind the calm, quiet atmosphere - much the proverbial feeling of “being watched,” even if no one was nearby. Maybe it’s only because I’m aware of the library’s haunted history that I conjured up these spooky feelings, but I still always expected to turn and see something otherworldly around every bookshelf, from the adult room to the children’s basement to the stairwell. The legend of Phoenixville Library’s ghosts is a strong one!

For an up-close investigation of the haunted Phoenixville Public Library, check out an episode of para-reality show “SCARED!” below that was filmed in the library in 2009. - Lindsay Merkel

1) WILLARD LIBRARY - EVANSVILLE, INDIANA

What exactly is going on at Willard Library? Judging by pictures snapped on multiple “ghost cams” throughout the building, Willard Library looks to be some kind of paranormal portal into the spiritual dimension. The library’s history is rather benign, having begun its legacy as a private donation library from Willard Carpenter and incorporated to the city of Evansville in 1881. The building, resembling a Victorian Gothic structure, was first begun in 1876, but a depressed economy halted its progress, leaving the foundation unfinished until 1882. It is home to a vast range of genealogy and local history special collections, and also to the ghost of the famous Grey Lady.

 The Grey Lady, Willard Library’s most well-known apparition, roams the stacks quietly, aptly wearing a gray dress and veil. Her identity is not certain, but according to legend she may be Louise Carpenter, Willard’s daughter who was allegedly unhappy when he died and left most of his estate to the library; her haunting of the library is her revenge for an eternal grudge against her father. However, the Grey Lady has never been reported to be a malevolent presence, so this tale may not hold true, but she has been reported as a near constant presence! She was first spotted by a custodian in 1931, and since then has racked up hundreds to thousands of reports of ghostly activity. She makes her presence known through sightings, moving around books, turning lights and faucets on and off, touching people and creating cold spots, and also emitting the strong scent of musky perfume. Some of the documented run-ins with the Grey Lady include:

  • Psychics visiting the library in 2007 say they were able to verify that a ghost has been there, and paranormal investigative groups have brought in equipment designed to locate it.

  • Several library employees have reported seeing the ghost, including Margaret Maier, Children’s Librarian, and Helen Kamm, Library Assistant.

  • During a visit to the library, lecturers from the University of Southern Indiana say they saw the ghost peering into water.

  • Policemen responding to a security alarm at the library spotted two ghosts in an upstairs window of the library.

  • A library patron reported an encounter with the Grey Lady in the library elevator, and a local weathercaster also reported an encounter with the spirit.

Though it has been almost a decade since the Grey Lady apparition has actually been seen, when an assistant children’s librarian saw her in a basement hallway in 2010, paranormal happenings continue to occur throughout the building – and they don’t all appear to be the work of the Grey Lady.

Since 1999, Willard Library has been running ghost cams throughout the building, continually filming different areas and streaming online for at-home ghost hunters to search for onscreen ghosts. While some captures could be explained away as misidentified objects, sunlight or shadows, or even real people walking through the rooms, other images are creepy and puzzling. From misty figures to shadow specters to something that looks oddly like a wolf head on a suit of armor, the paranormal happenings at Willard Library are famous, mysterious, and plentiful!

See some of the creepiest camera images below, and click HERE to check out the Willard webcams for yourself. - Lindsay Merkel

Another Grey Lady sighting?

A shadow figure appears to descend the stairs.

Check out the lower left corner… is it a library patron or a ghostly visitor?

What. Is. It.

An amorphous light appears in the dark library.

What exactly is this child seeing?

Some people have speculated this is a black backpack… others believe it to be something more sinister.

Again… is this a real library patron, or a ghost child caught on camera?

Although we narrowed down our blog to these 7 spooky libraries, there are no shortage of haunted libraries across the globe! Do you have any library ghost stories of your own? Share with us in the comments!

5 Historical Figures Who Saw Their Doppelgänger... And Then Died

Have you ever come face to face with your doppelgänger? Would you want to?

These days the term “doppelgänger” is used to describe two different people who look unusually alike. The internet practically abounds with photos of identical-looking celebrities, people who’ve discovered their so-called doppelgänger in old artworks, and complete strangers who look like they could be long-lost twins. It’s actually eerie how closely most of these people resemble each other. But the original meaning of “doppelgänger” is even eerier.

When translated from German, the word “doppelgänger” literally means “doubler walker” or “double goer,” describing not a lookalike but the ghostly counterpart of a living person… and meeting one’s doppelgänger was never a good thing. Doppelgänger apparitions were sinister occurrences, bringing with them bad omens and evil intentions. In traditional folklore, they are known to impersonate the person they resemble, plant negative and confusing ideas into others’ minds, and signal some kind of impending doom for their earthly counterpart. These demonic doubles are seen as harbingers of illness, tragedy, and death.

While many explanations of the doppelgänger phenomenon have been offered - including supernatural manifestations, electrical glitches of the brain, and mental illness - what is known for sure is that the “double walkers” bring bad news for those who see them, as recorded by a number of spooky historical accounts.

In ascending order of creepiness and tragedy, here are five such accounts of figures in history who had the misfortune to encounter their doppelgänger… and then died:

#5: Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great was the formidable and longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 1762 until 1796. Though Catherine took the throne by way of a coup that overthrew her own husband and usurped power from her son, who was rightfully the throne’s next heir, her extended rule became known as the Golden Age of Russia. 

Shortly before her reign came to an end, something unexpected took to Catherine’s throne, literally - the creepy double of Catherine herself. 

According to the account, Catherine was in her bedroom when some troubled servants came to tell her they had just seen the Empress entering the throne room, even though she had been lying in her bed at the exact same moment. The Empress went directly to the room to investigate the servants’ claims. Once there, Catherine encountered a second version of herself, seated calmly on the throne. Ever formidable, the real Catherine ordered her guards to fire on the spectral queen. Presumably, the bullets had no effect and her doppelgänger disappeared with no further recurrences, but not long after this event, Catherine the Great collapsed and suffered a stroke. Within hours she became comatose, and by the evening following the stroke, her reign permanently ended. 

#4: Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth the First ruled England from late 1558 to early 1603. The daughter of Henry VIII and the beheaded Anne Boleyn, she was the last of the Tudor monarchs to assume the throne. Queen Elizabeth is often referred to as “The Virgin Queen,” as she defied convention by refusing to marry or bear an heir. Her long reign, known as the Elizabethan era, was not without controversy, but did see a flourishing of English drama (through no less than the works of William Shakespeare) and successful seafaring exploits (such as Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world), among many other successes.

Though Elizabeth I achieved a long reign, death still sought her out, and allegedly gave her a preview of its coming by way of a dead doppelgänger. According to history, Elizabeth was said to have encountered her own person lying in state like a corpse in her chambers. The doppelgänger was described as “pallid, shivered, and wan,” and though Elizabeth was level-headed and not prone to fantasies, she seemed to know this strange sight meant something ill-fated was in store. Only a few days later, Queen Elizabeth I, aged 69 and monarch of 44 years, was dead in actuality. 

#3: Percy Shelley

Percy Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets, composing such pieces as “To a Skylark” and “Ode to the West Wind.” Unfortunately Shelley never truly saw fame during his lifetime, and was most typically known for being husband to Mary Shelley, the author of the famously known horror novel, Frankenstein.

Percy Shelley had a short life marked by tragedy and turmoil. As a child he was tormented by his schoolmates. As a young adult, Shelley eloped with his first wife whom he later abandoned, and who was also later found dead in a lake, drowned and pregnant. He had several other failed love affairs before marrying Mary Shelley (and is suspected of some afterward as well). Both he and Mary lost three of their four children together, and Mary’s sister Fanny committed suicide. 

With a life marked by such sad events, it’s no wonder that, shortly before he died, Percy confessed to Mary that he had many times seen his doppelgänger, a harbinger of bad luck for him and those in his circle. On one such occasion, Percy was strolling on the terrace of his house when he came eerily face to face with his double, who spoke to him, asking, “How long do you mean to be content?” In a strangely similar sighting, Percy’s friend Jane Williams also seems to have encountered Percy’s spectral twin on the terrace, where she claims to have seen him pass by the window several times, but when she went out to him, Percy had disappeared. Jane received the shock of her life when she soon realized that the real Percy was not at home at all.

In one of the final instances of Percy’s encounters with his doppelgänger, he claimed to have seen himself on a beach, pointing out at the sea. Not long afterward, Percy was drowned in a sailing accident in 1812, at the ripe old age of 29.

#2: Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, serving as the country’s leader through its bloodiest conflict on its own soil, the American Civil War. He is also remembered for abolishing slavey, modernizing the U.S. economy, and preserving the Union. Not as widely known is that Lincoln had an interest in spiritualism and the supernatural.

Having lost two children at young ages, Lincoln’s wife Mary frequently invited mediums to the White House to hold seances, some of which were attended by Lincoln himself. Though he seemed to contend that most mediums were hucksters, Lincoln did believe in the power of dreams to predict the future. He even had an alarmingly accurate dream (unbeknownst to him, of course) in which he walked through several rooms of the White House to the sound of crying, before discovering a dead shrouded body lying in state. Dream-Lincoln asked a nearby soldier to whom the body belonged; the soldier replied it was the President, murdered by an assassin.

Lincoln also encountered what he believed to be another ill omen regarding his fate, when he glimpsed his deathly pale doppelgänger looking at him from a mirror. One of Lincoln’s associates, Noah Brooks, recounted the story the president allegedly told to him on November 9, 1864. Brooks's version of the tale, using Lincoln’s words as best as he remembered them, described the following events:

“It was just after my election in 1860, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day and there had been a great "hurrah, boys," so that I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it (and here he got up and placed furniture to illustrate the position), and looking in that glass I saw myself reflected nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it a second time, plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler — say five shades — than the other. I got up, and the thing melted away, and I went off, and in the excitement of the hour forgot all about it — nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang as if something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home again that night I told my wife about it, and a few days afterward I made the experiment again, when (with a laugh), sure enough! the thing came back again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was somewhat worried about it. She thought it was a "sign" that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.”

lincolncoffindoppelgangertheconfessionalspodcast

Critics of the story of Lincoln’s deathly doppelgänger argue that his double image was nothing more than a defect in an old mirror. While that theory is a possibility, the fatalistic Lincoln and his wife Mary believed it was a sign of bad things to come, and fate  proved them right. Sadly, we all know how Lincoln’s life story ends, when he was shot in the head and killed by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, three months into his second presidential term. 

#1: Guy de Maupassant 

maupassanttheconfessionalspodcastdoppelganger

Celebrated French author Guy de Maupassant, who lived and wrote in the second half of the 19th century, is considered to be the father of the modern short story. Though he did write several novels, including Bel Ami, his short stories totaled over 300, and quite a number of them featured themes of the supernatural and paranormal. 

One such story, called Le Horla, tells the tale of a man afflicted by an invisible spirit that he unwittingly invited into his home. Gradually the spirit haunts him with increasing ferocity as he begins to lose his mind, and he takes drastic measures, by way of suicide, to rid himself of his tormentor. What makes Le Horla even creepier is that Guy de Maupassant is said to have written the story with the help of his own doppelgänger. 

Guy’s interactions with his doppelgänger were reported as frequent and personal, with Guy sometimes meeting with his double every day. As the account goes, Guy and his doppelgänger conversed with one another during their visits, and Guy began writing Le Horla at the dictation of his eerie twin. Of the strange event, French doctor and psychologist Dr. Paul Sollier wrote:

lehorlamaupassantdoppelgangertheconfessionalspodcast

“Maupassant had a vivid hallucination one afternoon and told his friend of it that evening. Working at his desk in his office, where his servant had orders never to enter while he was writing, he seemed to hear his door open. He turned and was not a little surprised when he himself [Maupassant’s double] entered, and came to sit in front of him, head in hand, and began to dictate everything he wrote on the occasion. When he had finished and stood up, the hallucination disappeared.  The result was the short story Le Horla.”

Maupassant himself confirmed his recurring encounters with his doppelgänger, saying, “Every other time I come home, I see my double. I open my door, and I see him sitting in my arm-chair. I know it for a hallucination, even while experiencing it. Curious! If I didn’t have a little common sense, I’d be afraid.”

Maupassant had reason to believe his sightings of his spectral double were hallucinations, as a long battle with syphilis had left his mental state slowly deteriorating. As time went on he became increasingly unpredictable and paranoid, even becoming obsessed with the idea that flies were eating away his brain. After writing Le Horla in 1887, Guy’s disease-induced madness culminated in a suicide attempt and admission to an asylum in 1892. In 1893, the disease took his life entirely. 

Whether the presence of Guy’s doppelgänger was of a supernatural nature or whether it was the visual and auditory hallucination of a sick man is not a point that can be proven on either side, but the story of his other self is nonetheless disturbing.  At best or at worst, Maupassant was either visited repeatedly by a paranormal apparition of death, or spent his time alone talking to an empty room and writing with a companion who didn’t even exist. It‘s not immediately obvious which of these scenarios would be the best and which the worst. What is obvious is how closely Le Horla, his doppelgänger-inspired tale, comes to resemble an autobiographical work, capturing Guy de Maupassant’s final battles with his own demons, be they metaphorical or supernatural ones. 

What’s the spookiest doppelgänger story you’ve ever heard? Share it with us in the comments! For a modern doppelgänger tale, check out The Confessionals Episode 117: Gorilla Man, Doppelgangers, and Demons, Oh My!

NEWS: Scientists Believe DNA Has Finally Identified Jack the Ripper

After over 100 years of mystery and speculation, a team of scientists in the U.K. believes they have DNA proof that definitively identifies the legendary serial killer Jack the Ripper - and it appears he was a real-life Sweeney Todd, Demon Barber of Fleet Street.The breaking story originally from Fox News on March 18, 2019 continues below:

‘Forensic analysis by scientists in the U.K. may have unmasked Jack the Ripper more than a century after the murderer's brutal killing spree sent shockwaves through Victorian London.

Research by Dr. Jari Louhelainen, senior lecturer in molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores University and Dr. David Miller, reader in molecular andrology at the University of Leeds, claims to shed new light on the notorious serial killer. In an abstract of their research published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Louhelainen and Miller explained they used what is, to their knowledge, the only remaining physical evidence linked to the murders, recovered from one of the Ripper's famous victims at the scene of her death.

Jack the Ripper is thought to have claimed the lives of at least five women in the Whitechapel area of London between August and November 1888. However, the identity of the notorious murderer remains shrouded in mystery.

Science Magazine reports that the scientists analyzed a blood-stained shawl from Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of the so-called "canonical five" Jack the Ripper victims. Eddowes was killed on Sept. 30, 1888, and her badly mutilated body was found on Whitechapel's Mitre Square.

Aaron Kosminski (or Jack the Ripper?)

The scientists' genetic testing linked Aaron Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber living in London, to the crimes, according to Science Magazine. Although identified as a Jack the Ripper suspect, police are said to have lacked sufficient evidence to charge Kosminski for the murders.

"We applied novel, minimally destructive techniques for sample recovery from forensically relevant stains on the evidence and separated single cells linked to the suspect, followed by phenotypic analysis," say the scientists, in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. "The mtDNA [mitochondrial DNA] profiles of both the victim and the suspect matched the corresponding reference samples, fortifying the link of the evidence to the crime scene."

Mitochondrial DNA is often described as the "powerhouse of the cell."

Kosminski had been identified by a witness to one of the Jack the Ripper killings, although the witness refused to testify against him, experts say.

However, the latest research claims to back up the witness who pointed the finger at Kosminski.

"Genomic DNA from single cells recovered from the evidence was amplified, and the phenotypic information acquired matched the only witness statement regarded as reliable," said Louhelainen and Miller, in the abstract. "To our knowledge, this is the most advanced study to date regarding this case."

Science Magazine reports that, while Kosminski has been linked to the horrific crimes before, this is the first time that the DNA evidence has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More extensive information on the research will be released later this year. "The full story that the paper, and new revealing graphic evidence relating to the case, will be published in September," explained Liverpool John Moores University, in a statement emailed to Fox News.’

Is Aaron Kosminski truly the Demon Barber of Whitechapel? It has long been speculated that Jack the Ripper possessed some kind of medical knowledge due to the way he cut apart his victims. But it is also possible that a barber, responsible for precisely cutting hair and shaving faces (and necks), would have similar handy skills when wielding sharp implements like scissors or a blade. For centuries there were even so-called “barber surgeons,” who were exactly what they sounded like - barbers with limited medical knowledge who performed surgical procedures, from tooth-pulling to bloodletting to limb amputation. Though the practice of barber surgeons was largely ended in the early 19th century, could Aaron Kosminski have studied their methods, and applied them to carrying out gruesome serial killings?

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Another interesting detail is the timing of the killings, which is still up for debate. Though the canonical number of murders committed by Jack the Ripper is five, all in 1888, Whitechapel actually saw 11 brutal and unexplained murders which finally ended in 1891. Also in 1891, suspect Kosminski was admitted to an insane asylum. He would remain in asylums until his death in 1919, reportedly suffering from auditory hallucinations, a paranoid fear of being fed by other people, and a refusal to bathe. Could he be responsible for any, or all, of the Whitechapel murders?

With so many years elapsed between Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror and the modern day investigations into his identity, it may be that not even DNA can conclusively solve his mystery. But it certainly does not stop us from continuing to speculate, theorize, and find ourselves morbidly fascinated by this unknown killer of legendary proportions. Was Jack the Ripper really Aaron Kosminski, or is the identity of the true murderer still at large? Share your own theories with us in the comments!

4 Serial Killers Who Left Their Ghosts Behind Them

History is marred by countless accounts of murderers who committed heinous acts and gruesome killings. Arguably some of the darkest crimes were the work of repeating offenders - serial killers who left their stain on the world over and over again with each horrifying act. Some of these criminals were caught and tried for their crimes, while others remained anonymous and at large. Among them all, there also seems to be a number of killers who continue their reign of terror, even after their own deaths.

As if these murderers weren’t already scary enough, here are 4 serial killers who died and left their ghosts behind:

1) JACK THE RIPPER

Jack the Ripper is possibly the most infamous serial killer of all time. In 1888, he gruesomely killed five women in England. He was also the first serial killer to taunt the press by sending them letters, creating a worldwide media frenzy and becoming the first “modern” serial killer. Adding to his terrifying legacy is the fact that he was never successfully identified, let alone caught, so his crimes are also shrouded with mystery as well as brutality.  Despite his undetermined identity, the ghost of Jack the Ripper is believed to haunt several locations in London, including the sight of his second murder - 29 Hamburg Street- and a pub where patrons have reported seeing a “ghastly old man in Victorian clothing.” It was in this same pub where his victim Annie Chapman was drinking before Jack the Ripper savagely killed her. 

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Jack the Ripper’s five victims also haunt London on their own. On the street where Mary Anne Nichols had her throat and abdomen slit, people report hearing horrible gasping noises and an argument between an unseen man and woman, along with seeing her body lying in the street. The ghost of Elizabeth Stride has been heard crying for help, and the apparition of Catherine Eddowes has been spotted multiple times. Another victim, Mary Kelly, was witnessed speaking to people in the street hours after she had already been murdered. 

2) TED BUNDY

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In the 1970s, Ted Bundy killed at least 30 women across seven states, though his murder tally is suspected to be much higher. He was executed for his crimes in 1989, but allegedly his ghost has lingered. A decade after he died, a prison guard divulged to a reporter that several guards claimed to have come across the ghost of Ted Bundy casually sitting on the electric chair - and creepily smiling his signature smirk. If anyone tried to approach him, he would disappear. At one point the sightings were occurring so often, the prison warden couldn’t find anyone willing to enter the execution chamber alone. Bundy also began popping up in prison cells, housing units, and his holding cell on death row. Once his ghost even spoke to guards, boasting  “Well, I beat all of you, didn’t I?” According to an inmate, Bundy’s ghostly visage appears as a blue-white mist, but is so detailed it’s impossible to deny that the likeness is Bundy. And he’s always, always smiling. 

In recent years there have also been reports of ghostly activity in Ted Bundy’s childhood home, including dressers falling over, drawers opening on their own, and words being mysteriously scrawled in the dust, but no one has yet identified the ghost as Bundy himself. 

3) JEFFREY DAHMER

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Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffery Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal, killed and consumed 17 men. For his horrific crimes, he was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment, but was beaten to death by another prisoner in 1994.

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Since his death, Dahmer’s childhood home in Bath, Ohio - and the place he committed his first killing - has been the site of haunted activity. The ghost of Dahmer and several other spirits (perhaps victims?) have allegedly been seen inside the house, but the most significant activity has come in the form of EVPs. Known as one of the best places in world to capture EVPs, it’s been reported that ghost hunters have rented out the house for as much as $10,000 a night in search of Dahmer’s ghostly voice.

In the video below, one such ghost hunter shares numerous EVPs that he captured on the property, including words and phrases that sound eerily like “can’t breathe,” “run,” “stop the bleeding,” and more. 

4) JOHN WAYNE GACY

The disturbed John Wayne Gacy abused and murdered at least 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978. Because of his penchant for dressing as “Pogo the Clown,” Gacy has become known as the Clown Killer. All of his known murders were committed at his ranch house, 8213 W. Summerdale Avenue in Chicago, where he buried over two dozen bodies in a crawl space and several more in the backyard. Although the original Gacy home was razed during the police search for so many bodies, different owners of the house that was later built on the property allegedly reported screams in the night and bloody apparitions. For several years after Gacy’s house came down, no plant life would grow on the lot, although supposedly there was no logical explanation for the yard to remain barren. The lack of vegetation on only that spot confused the neighbors, and people began to believe it was some kind of mark on the property, left behind by Gacy’s evil works. While none of these strange events is attributed directly to the ghost of Gacy, his terrible legacy was still a hulking specter, even forcing new homeowners to change the house’s street number in an effort to distance it from Gacy’s presence.

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Gacy’s presence also led to a terrifying paranormal-type encounter for one of our interview guests. During the last two years of Gacy’s, our guest James spoke with Gacy one-on-one multiples times, as he gained insight into the mind of a serial killer. When the time came for Gacy to be put to death, James chose not to oblige a last request from the murderer. Two weeks after the execution, he awoke to find the ghost of Gacy in his room, staring and snarling at him. The full account of James’ ghostly encounter and the time he spent with John Wayne Gacy can be heard on Episode 116: Serial Killer John Gacy - Life After Death.

Have the evil works of these serial killers left them restless in the afterlife? Is their dark legacy so strong that they are still hunting for victims? Their own lives may over, but these serial killers are continuing to instill fear even from beyond the grave.

Have you heard of any other serial killers who have manifested in ghostly form? Tell us about it in the comments!

Creature Feature Friday: Grootslang

Creature Feature Friday: Grootslang!

Yes, it's as weird as it sounds. No, it has nothing to do with Guardians of the Galaxy. Here are 5 interesting details about this hybrid cryptid:

1) Grootslang is a legendary cryptid that is reputed to dwell in a deep cave in the Richtersveld, South Africa, as well as in warm rivers and lakes. According to the legend, Grootslang is as old as the world itself.

2) Grootslang means "big snake," but this mythical being is actually half snake, half elephant. Makes sense, right? Not really - Grootslang is an experiment gone awry, having been a terrible mistake crafted by the gods, who imbued it with too much strength, cunning and intellect. To rectify their mistake, the gods split the Grootslangs in half, creating individual elephants and snakes. But one of their original hybrids escaped to forever terrorize the world - and also hoard treasure.

3) The cave that the Grootslang lives in is known as the "Wonder Hole" or the "Bottomless Pit," and according to local legend is filled with diamonds. As the saying goes, diamonds are a Grootslang’s best friend!

4) Though Grootslang itself is half elephant, it still enjoys luring other elephants into its cave and devouring them for dinner. Incidentally Grootslang does not get invited to many ancestral elephant reunions.

5) If you, a human, are ever caught by the Grootslang, it’ll probably eat you also, because it has a hearty appetite for cruelty. But it may be possible to bargain for your life if you offer Grootslang a substantial amount of precious gems. Because you never leave home without a sack full of those, right?

I AM GROOTSLANG. Do you believe in the legend of Grootslang?

The Grootslang illustrations above were obtained from Monsters Vault. CLICK HERE to view their encyclopedic site of monsters from all over the world!

Opera Ghosts: Echoes of the Rhoads Opera House Fire

On the corner of South Washington Street and East Philadelphia Avenue in Boyertown, Pennsylvania is a red brick building. Three stories tall and largely unadorned, it doesn’t stand out from its neighbors, blending in to blocks of similarly-styled buildings without a second glance. Small shops rotate through the ground floor, while apartment dwellers come and go through its top two tiers. Except for a commemorative plaque hung on the front of the building, one would never know that on this particular site, 171 people died in a single night. 

The Rhoads Opera House in ruins.

Although the history of deadly disasters in the United States seems to widely overlook this small-town horror, Boyertown itself has never forgotten the shocking tragedy that was the Rhoads Opera House Fire

The Rhoads Opera House Fire

On the evening of January 13, 1908, over 300 theatergoers and 50 actors gathered at the Rhoads Opera House for the opening night of a production called “The Scottish Reformation.” The term “opera house” was a bit of a misnomer, as the theater only comprised the second floor of the commercial Rhoads building in which it was located. Though the venue was in fact small compared to its grand name, the play was eagerly attended by the hundreds, and featured the latest slide projection technology and dramatic staging effects. Through an unintended tragedy of errors, it was this new technology that served as the catalyst for the catastrophe to come.

The Rhoads commercial building before the fire.

While the rapt audience waited for the play’s third act to begin, an inexperienced projectionist with only two days of training mistakenly turned a wrong valve on the projector, which then hissed and startled a few theatergoers seated nearby. Hearing commotion in the audience, several actors raised the curtain to see what was the matter. When they did, they tipped over a kerosene lamp that had been set on the stage for extra lighting. The overturned lamp immediately started a small fire, but theater personnel quickly responded to tamp down the flames. With the fire nearly extinguished, some of the men in the front row decided to move another kerosene tank, kept under the stage, that fueled the theater’s footlights… as a safety precaution.  The decision proved deadly when the tank’s framework broke, dumping the tank of kerosene across the stage and igniting the small fire into an inferno.

In seconds, the stage became a virtual tinderbox. Its curtains burst into flames, quickly followed by the wainscoting of the 12-foot ceiling, until the entire auditorium was engulfed in “waves” of fire.  Frantic audience members scrambled towards the main exit, only to find themselves trapped inside when the panicked crush of people tried pushing against doors that opened inward. Although the second floor contained two window fire escapes, they were unmarked and located three feet off the ground, nearly unidentifiable amidst the chaos. Chairs, debris, and bodies made the auditorium a maze of obstacles that blocked exits and cost precious time getting to safety. When one of the main exit doors was finally broken open, some victims were trampled to death as the crowd stampeded forward, while others fell to their deaths down the building’s staircase. Still others jumped from windows to the ground below, and not everyone survived the attempt. But most of all, trapped theatergoers burned alive. While many people did manage to escape outside, nearly 200 men, women, and children perished while the fire raged. 

After the fire.

Smoking rubble after the fire.

Hours later, when the very literal smoke finally cleared, the full scale of the fiery tragedy was revealed. With a death toll of 171 people - 170 who attended the play and one firefighter - the little community of Boyertown had shockingly lost one-tenth of its population. In a few cases, entire families - husbands, wives, children - had died in the opera house blaze. Two-thirds of the dead victims were women and children, leading some to surmise that the men in attendance had abandoned them to fend for safety by themselves. When rescue workers entered the burned-out building, they discovered bodies piled six feet deep at the top of the stairway, where the surging crowd had bottlenecked and trapped themselves inside. Because of the overwhelming number of bodies, three makeshift morgues had to be set up in surrounding buildings, while the remaining town worked to identify the victims and cope with the sudden, shocking loss of life.

“Main entrance of Opera House after fire Boyertown, PA, Jan. 08”

Another angle of the fire’s aftermath.

A line of residents looking for loved ones among the bodies of the fire victims.

In the days that followed the disaster, 15,000 people converged on Boyertown to attend dozens upon dozens of funerals. The renowned Boyertown Burial Casket Company, which was to become one of the largest casket manufacturers in the world, was hard pressed to meet the sudden demand for its products and its gravediggers, and had also lost a few of its own workers who had attended that doomed performance of “The Scottish Reformation.” In an unfunny twist of fate, those workers had unknowingly crafted the coffins they would be buried in. Over 100 new graves were dug in Boyertown’s already large Fairview Cemetery, including a common grave for 25 victims whose remains were so badly charred they could not be individually identified. While the town mourned in earnest, the theater fire made headlines across the country, and spurred new legislation for fire safety laws in Pennsylvania. There seemed to be no one in the town who had not been in some way affected by the Rhoads Opera House Fire.

”Interior of Opera House after fire Boyertown PA Jan 08”

An enhanced version of the photo above: “Victims of Opera House fire Boyertown PA Jan, 08”.

Thousands gather in Boyertown after the fire to identify loved ones and attend funerals.

“Preparing for the burial Opera House fire victims Boyertown PA Jan. 13, 08.” More and more graves being added to Fairview Cemetery.

OPERA GHOSTS

Even after 111 years, traces of the tragedy have always remained. To many in the local area, Boyertown is considered one of the most haunted small towns in America. Between its historic buildings dating back to the 1700s, the looming specter of the Boyertown Burial Casket Company (which operated until 1988), and the imposing Fairview Cemetery with its approximately 7,000 graves, there is little doubt that the town is home to all kinds of paranormal activity. There is also no doubt that a significant amount of that paranormal activity has been attributed to the horrific theater tragedy that claimed so many lives. From nearly the very night of the deathly fire, the Rhoads Opera House ghost stories began. 

”Ruins of the Opera House Boyertown PA Jan, 08”.

”Digging the grave for the unidentified after Opera House Fire, Boyertown, PA Jan 13, 08”.

Following the fire, while the ruins of the building still smoked, police were called to the scene to remove an elderly man from the wreckage. He told the responding officers that his dead wife’s ghost had called him to that specific spot on the site, to talk to her a final time.  

Workers attempt to remove and identify bodies after the Boyertown theater fire.

Officers were further called out to the ruins on multiple occasions, for weeks following the event, because residents and passersby claimed they could hear screams and cries coming from inside the building’s hull. A woman who lived nearby also claimed that spirits of the dead victims had taken over her house, though details of her paranormal experiences have not emerged. 

The Boyertown theater fire making headlines.

”Scene at the temporary morgue after Opera House fire Boyertown PA Jan 08”.

The sound of on-site screaming has continued to recur, for years, along with investigations of moaning and strange noises coming from inside Fairview Cemetery. Although the remnants of the Rhoads Opera House building were torn down and rebuilt a few years after the fire, the haunting experiences live on. A present-day resident who lived across the street from the old Opera House shared, “I’ve lived here my entire life and have heard so many ghost stories about the building. One old resident of the apartments there swore that every year around the same time a woman dressed in fine clothes would walk through the apartment, proclaiming to be late for the play.” Still another resident reported that, when the new building housed a dance studio sometime after the fire, the younger girls refused to use one of the dance rooms because it was “full of ghosts.” Even the area surrounding the fire site bears invisible traces of tragedy, with some believing that the victims who were placed in the makeshift morgues never truly left. 

A covered body is removed from a second story window.

“After Opera House Fire Jan 13, 08. Boyertown PA” - a devastating look at the victims laid out in temporary morgues.

Thousands attend funerals for the Rhoads Opera House Victims in Fairview Cemetery.

An artist captures the scene as victims of the Rhoads Opera House fire are taken to Fairview Cemetery for burial.

The Mansion House Hotel in the early 1900s.

Present-day Durango’s Saloon.

The most notoriously haunted of these morgues is probably Durango’s Saloon, a present-day bar located one block from the fire site, in what was formerly the Mansion House Hotel. It was in the basement of the Mansion House Hotel where rescue workers laid out corpses pulled from the Opera House rubble. Today, Durango’s Saloon still seems to be rife with paranormal activity, from shadowy figures glimpsed out the corners of eyes, to items being moved or pushed over, to strange mists appearing in photographs. The bar’s owner once even found himself locked in his walk-in freezer when its large, heavy door inexplicably slammed closed behind him. When local paranormal investigator Scott Wiley conducted his own investigation in Durango’s Saloon, he reportedly captured some compelling EVPs during his three nights in the bar. During one session Wiley asked aloud, “Who’s there?” and says he caught the whispery but distinct reply of “Binder.” Research of the area uncovered that a Henry Binder was in fact the proprietor of the old Mansion House Hotel in the early 1900s - until he was killed in the Rhoads Opera House fire. Binder’s body was buried up the street in Fairview Cemetery, but his spirit, it seems, lingered behind.

With the horror of the Opera House fire impacting so many people, for so many years, there is probably no shortage of those who can share a ghostly story about the theater fire, or about haunted Boyertown itself. I have a few stories of my own.

My haunted Boyertown house

Part of Fairview Cemetery today.

Listeners of The Confessionals may recall the very early Episode 3: “Hatman and Ghostly Interactions”, where I shared with Tony a number of spooky and paranormal occurrences that I experienced while living in several different homes. The home where I had the majority of my eerie experiences was an old Victorian, built in 1900, located on the same road as the Opera House fire site (0.4 miles away to be exact). In even closer proximity was the huge, somber Fairview Cemetery, barely 400 feet away and visible from the house. My elementary school bus stop was actually directly in front of the cemetery entrance... not exactly the most inviting of places to hang around when you are 5-to-10-years old! I remember walking through the cemetery on some occasions and being confounded by the sight of old, ornate gravestones marking the burial places of children who were my own age and even younger - how could they have lost their lives so early?

My elementary school bus stop.

Though I was too little at the time to be familiar with Boyertown’s history, the ghostly impression that Victorian house left on me has drawn me to learn more about the home, hoping to uncover a possible reason behind what, to me, was its pervading sense of spookiness, punctuated by unexplained events and fearful feelings. One experience in particular, which gives Episode 3 its name, was the very brief but distinct sighting of a hatted shadow figure watching me from a doorway. Though the glimpse was quick, the figure was clear: a featureless shadow man, bearing the silhouette of a tail coat, higher collar, and top hat. He never appeared again, but I have always wondered about what I saw. That wonder has led to my amateur research uncovering a tenuous but tangible connection between my old home and the Rhoads Opera House Fire. 

The doorway (left) in my old home where I glimpsed a shadow figure in a tail coat and top hat. At that time the doorway did not have any attached doors; these were added by a later owner.

Through archived newspaper articles, I recently discovered that a man named Leon E. Mayer lived in the same house that I did, in at least the late 1930s and early 1940s. Further records revealed that at around 15 years of age, Mr. Mayer lost both his father and his sister in the 1908 disaster. Dr. Charles Eugene Mayer and his 18-year-old daughter Gwendolyn were in attendance at “The Scottish Reformation” when the fire broke out. According to a Reading Eagle article published on the 100th anniversary of the fire, “Mayer fought off smoke and flames to reach his wife and carry her to safety outside the building. Then, he went back in to rescue his daughter. It’s not known whether Mayer found his daughter amid the smoke and flames, but neither made it out.” After their deaths, Dr. Mayer and Gwendolyn were buried in Fairview Cemetery. 

Dr. Charles Mayer. March 18, 1863 - January 13, 1908.

Gwendolyn Mayer. September 30, 1889 - January 13, 1908.

As of yet, I haven’t found the key detail that I’d like to know - who lived in my creepy old house at the time of fire? - but this little revelation about the Mayer family is still intriguing. Leon Mayer and his family, like so many families in Boyertown in 1908, suffered a tragic loss that would forever be attached to those left behind with their grief. Did Leon Mayer carry a piece of his grief with him while he resided in the home where I used to live? Did it manifest in the strange activity that I experienced? Was it his likeness that appeared in shadow form in my living room doorway? Or does the figure date back even further - was it is an echo of Dr. Charles Mayer, lost to the Opera House fire just down the road? I can’t say with any certainty whether Leon Mayer moved in to my former home well after the fire, or if it was his family home where he had once also lived with his father and sister; I can only speculate and theorize while I continue to dig into small-town history. But even if my paranormal experiences in the Boyertown house are not at all related to the the former Mayer family residents, there is still the fact that the town lost a tenth of its inhabitants in the Rhoads Opera House Fire, and touched nearly every family with its devastation. There is a strong possibility that whoever did live in my home in 1908 bore their own personal connection to the fire, and, perhaps, left a residual force behind them.

Again - this is pure speculation based on a few thinly related facts. But one other thing that stands out to me now is the appearance of that shadow figure in the doorway. Reports from the night of January 13, 1908 recorded that Boyertown’s theatergoers were “dressed in their Sunday best.” “Sunday best,” for a man in the early 1900s, was unquestionably a tail coat, collar, and top hat… a uncanny match for the shadow man who appeared in my circa 1900 home, only blocks away from the Rhoads Opera House.

With only the few historical facts I’ve found so far and my own experiences to consider, I can’t help but wonder…

THE LEGACY OF THE RHOADS OPERA HOUSE FIRE

While looking into my previous home’s history, I found one other story that caught my attention, not only because it further involves the Mayer family, but because it also reveals how quickly after the Boyertown fire its ghostly legacy seems to have begun. The story comes from Dr. Charles Mayer’s own grandson - not from Leon Mayer, but the child of his younger son - and was published on his blog in 2012. In it he recounts how his father woke on the night of the fire to the sound of the hall clock. Strangely, he says, the clock chimed not 12, but 13 times. The next morning, he was confronted with the terrible truth that his father, Dr. Mayer, and sister Gwendolyn would not be coming home again.

A current view of the site of the Rhoads Opera House fire.

Although details in the full story differ from other records (something to be expected as more and more years separate us from the original inciting event), it is clear that the tragedy of 1908 is still leaving its mark. Generations later, families are still affected by who was lost, and a town is forever different because of what transpired. Today the site of the Rhoads Opera House fire is occupied by offices, apartments, and a cozy secondhand bookshop. The fire and the death it brought are over one hundred years in the past. But for anyone who has heard the echoes of the screams from the Boyertown building on the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Washington Street, the dead may not be altogether gone.

The plaque on the former site of the Rhoads Opera House - “Dedicated to the 171 people who perished within these walls in the tragic fire of January 13, 1908”.

“To the Memory of The Unidentified in the Boyertown Catastrophe Jan. 13, 1908.”

“Rhoads Opera House Fire: A disastrous fire destroyed the theater that stood at Philadelphia Ave. & Washington St. on Jan. 13, 1908. It claimed 170 victims, many buried here, due to overcrowding, poorly designed and unmarked exits, and inadequate fire escapes. The tragedy prompted the Pa. General Assembly to enact fire safety laws and improve construction and inspection standards, making public buildings safer and influencing similar legislation in other states.”

For more information about Boyertown and its haunted history, contact the Boyertown Area Historical Society. To hear my own haunted experiences of Boyertown and other homes in Pennsylvania, listen to The Confessionals Podcast Episode 3: Hatman and Ghostly Interactions on your favorite podcatcher.

THE CONFESSIONALS EXCLUSIVE: Are Old Legend Giants Living in the Modern Day World?


LEGENDS OF THE GIANT

And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.
— Numbers 13:33

Throughout historical lore and legend, there is one fearsome figure who looms large, in a very literal sense, in stories told by numerous cultures and peoples around the world: the Giant

From Biblical accounts to Native American oral tradition to children’s fairy tales, stories of giants in human history have been handed down for thousands of years and across multiple countries.

David faces Goliath.

David faces Goliath.

Thence we sailed on, grieved at heart, and we came to the land of the Cyclopes, an overweening and lawless folk...
— The Odyssey

In the American Southwest, the Paiute tribe tells tales of war between their people and the Si-Te-Cah, a race of cannibalistic, cave-dwelling, red-haired giants. In Norse mythology, the Jotun are a giant race of nature spirits with superhuman strength. The Gigantes of Greek and Roman history are strong, oversized, monstrous men, like the Cyclops, who were descended from the gods. The Christian Bible features not only the famous story of David versus the giant Goliath, but numerous tribes of giants, some strangely marked by six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. There is even the aptly titled Book of Giants, a fragmented, apocryphal text found among the Dead Sea Scrolls that depicts the birth of giants, called the Nephilim, into the pre-flood world, when the sons of God impregnated the daughters of man.

Cyclops on the hunt.

Cyclops on the hunt.

All of these cultural accounts - and there are so many more that can be referenced - bear their own unique narrative elements, but there is one constant that connects them all: the evident and universal existence of the Giant.

Fortunately for puny humans everywhere, these accounts of huge fearsome beings stalking the earth have faded into legend, turning the existence of the giant into nothing more than a bedtime story - haven’t they...?

MODERN DAY GIANT SIGHTINGS

...Not exactly. Although giants no longer feature prominently in the makeup of the modern world, stories of real live giants have not altogether stopped. While present-day encounters of the strange or supernatural seem to largely consist of UFOs and paranormal activity, sightings of giant humanoids, though more rare, are no less significant. Below is a small collection of these possible giant sightings from the 20th and 21st centuries:

When these great men or giants had thus made their settlement and dug these wells or cisterns, they destroyed and ate all the supplies they could find in the neighborhood. It is said that one of them ate more than fifty of the natives of the land...
— The Royal Commentaries of the Incas

During the bloody battle of Guadalcanal in WWII, Japanese soldiers reported terrifying run-ins with 10-to-15-foot-tall hominids in the Solomon Islands. While these giants were (and still are) common knowledge to the local inhabitants, the soldiers found them quite aggressive - some brandishing clubs - and also resistant to bullets. 

Still from the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film.

In 2015, a mountain rescue team claimed to see 8-foot-tall beings climbing the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico. According to the team, the unidentified creatures mounted the glacier at inhuman speed, covering a large area, which the team had taken 3 - 4 hours to traverse, in only 10 minutes.

The elusive 7-to-10-foot-tall hairy cryptid known as Bigfoot is still sighted regularly around the world in its various guises - Bigfoot, Yeti, Yowie, Sasquatch… the list of names and sightings goes on. The most famous sighting, propelling Bigfoot into popular culture, is of course the Patterson-Gimlin film taken in 1967, but records of encounters go back through at least the 1800s. Some believers theorize Bigfoot is a form of Nephilim, like the giants of old.

Perhaps the most infamous encounter of the modern age is the story of the Giant of Kandahar. According to reports, in 2002 a U.S. Army squad went missing in the desert of Afghanistan, and a Special Ops Task Force was sent to locate them. After traveling along remote mountainous terrain, the task force came upon a large cave entrance, strewn with broken military equipment. Before the soldiers could enter the cave, they were attacked by the cave’s single inhabitant - the Giant of Kandahar. Per eyewitness testimony, the giant stood 12-to-15 feet tall, sported red hair and a red beard, and had six fingers on each hand. He also carried an enormous spear that he used to impale one of the task force members before the rest of the team opened fire. The giant was allegedly so large and strong that it took 30 solid seconds of the task force shooting him in the face to finally bring him down. Following the mayhem, the giant’s body was removed by helicopter to an undisclosed U.S. base. 

Animated

This surreal encounter came to light in 2016, 14 years after the incident, when author and filmmaker L.A. Marzulli interviewed an unidentified member of the Special Ops force on his YouTube series “Watchers.” According to his witness, known only as “The Shooter,” their clash with the Giant of Kandahar is classified, the task force cannot discuss details, and the U.S. government has no plans to ever reveal that it occurred. Despite the forced secrecy, the story of the Giant of Kandahar managed to surface and to raise many questions, not only about the possibility of giants, but about how their existence may be being covered up. 

A GIANT COVERUP?

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One such hypothetical coverup may have happened as recently as 2017, in another U.S. military-related mission. Since then, several whistleblowers have purportedly come forward to disclose that the massive MOAB bomb dropped on an ISIS territory on April 13, 2017 was used with an ulterior motive - to kill giants. If the claim of the unnamed whistleblowers is accurate, then ISIS terrorists may have been only one of the targets the MOAB bomb was intended to take out, or even a convenient cover story for eliminating a giant threat (literally) that the “Deep State” of government wanted to keep secret. When the 21,600-pound explosive was dropped over the Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan, it was believed to have killed 94 ISIS fighters living in a cave complex.  But is it possible it killed something else that lived in the caves? Though most will consider such a story to be pure conspiracy theory - another giant urban legend - there are small but curious details that connect this theory with the account of the Kandahar Giant. 

Another curious detail is the name of the bomb itself. MOAB, an acronym for both the bomb’s official title “Massive Ordnance Air Blast” Bomb, and its unofficial moniker “Mother Of All Bombs”, is a biblical reference with a connection to Old Testament Nephilim. In Deuteronomy, the tribe of Moab battled a race of giants (one of several giant races) that they called Emim.  The Moabites emerged victorious, destroying the Emim giants and settling into the land they had inhabited.

The Emim had dwelt there in times past, a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. They were also regarded as giants, like the Anakim, but the Moabites call them Emim. The Horites formerly dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau [the Moabites] dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the Lord gave them.
— Deuteronomy 2:10-12, New King James Version

Is it only coincidence that a bomb allegedly used to destroy modern-day giants bears the same name as a race of ancient giant-killers? Or was “MOAB“ carefully chosen to repeat biblical history when it was dropped over Afghanistan? Since the “Deep State” of government is not exactly forthcoming, the MOAB coverup story leaves us, again, with more questions and no true answers. Are giants really living in our modern world? 

Even more specifically, if we use the stories of the Kandahar Giant and the MOAB bomb as guides, could we find them in the mountains of Afghanistan?

A CONTACT SHARES KNOWLEDGE OF GIANTS IN AFGHANISTAN

A few months ago, The Confessionals was contacted by a soldier stationed in the Logar Province of Afghanistan. He shared some intriguing information he discovered while interacting with locals at a bazaar near his base. Though the information is limited, it corroborates other accounts of giants hidden in the Afghan mountains. The following exclusive details are what he has been able to learn and relay back to us:

  • While at the base market over the course of several visits, our contact directly asked a few locals what they knew about giants living in the mountains. When he described a giant as a “really, really tall person”,  he was met with confirmation of their existence - and was informed, multiple times, that everyone “stays the hell away from them”! 

  • The locals revealed that a tribe of these “really, really tall” persons is living in the mountains of the Afghan-Chinese border, on the Afghan side. One resident even pointed clearly to the location on a map. Since the border between China and Afghanistan is only 47 miles long, this is actually a considerably specific piece of information.

  • Though the locals confirmed the existence of the giants’ whereabouts, they don’t appear to possess abundant knowledge about them, but are also extremely reluctant to discuss them beyond their location and their repeated warnings to stay away from them. The soldier states that the residents spoke passable English until the subject of giants was broached, after which their language skills suddenly broke off.

  • Oddly though, despite their resistance to discuss the giants, some locals did also mention that these beings do not sleep in a lying-down position, but rather in more of a sitting position. How they are aware of this detail or why they divulged it is not known to us!

  • During correspondence with our source, we inquired about the rules that are in place for traveling through the Wakhan Corridor Nature Refuge, which is a strip of territory in Afghanistan that stretches into China. The source suggested that it is probably not a safe place to venture, as the Taliban controls over half of Afghanistan. He has found that the local bazaar is the only safe place he can interact with the Afghan people.

  • Less than a week after this interchange, our source got in touch to say he had come across one of his own local contacts during another visit to the market, and asked him about the Wakhan Corridor Nature Refuge. That contact reported that although the Taliban does not control that specific area, it is still completely unsafe for a number of reasons: 1) There are border tensions; 2) There is no infrastructure out there; 3) The wildlife is dangerous; 4) The terrain is very rough and mountainous; and finally 5) “There is that tribe of Giants.” The advice given by our contact’s contact was to avoid the Wakhan Corridor Nature Refuge at all costs.

We are told that in the year 820 AD …way back in the days of the glory of Baghdad, the great sultan, the follower and descendant of the great El-Rashid of Arabian Nights, the Sultan El-Rashid Al-Ma’mun, decided to open the Great Pyramid. He had been told that it had been built by giants, who were called the Sheddai, superhuman beings, and that within that pyramid and those pyramids, they had stored a great treasure beyond the knowledge of man.
— excerpt of Manly P. Hall's lecture 'Atlantis and the Gods of Antiquity'
Comparing the sizes of giants from history and lore.

Comparing the sizes of giants from history and lore.

As stated above, these details may be limited in quantity, but they are significant in what they succeed in revealing. While our Afghanistan contact may not have seen giants with his own eyes, it’s apparent from the information he shared that Afghan locals keenly believe in their existence; have some of them have even glimpsed a giant somewhere themselves? 

Large figure towering over men on the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin: a metaphorical or literal interpretation?

Large figure towering over men on the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin: a metaphorical or literal interpretation?

Also a compelling piece of information is the specific area along the Afghan-Chinese border that they named as the giants’ habitat. Though a mountainous 47-mile strip of land may not seem like an “exact location,” it’s a markedly precise one when compared to the rest of the country’s size. Afghanistan itself covers an area of 252,072 square miles, and borders six countries. The border it shares with Pakistan (its longest border) is 1,510 miles long. In contrast, the 47 miles of border Afghanistan shares with China (its shortest) suddenly becomes incredibly small! Interestingly, the Logar Province from which this information comes is actually hundreds of miles from the reported location of the giants along the Chinese border. And yet, the threat they pose seems great enough that the locals repeatedly and adamantly warn against encountering them. We can only wonder what more these tight-lipped locals really know, and why they are so reluctant to reveal that knowledge.

The giant followed, and now the whole beanstalk shook and shuddered with his weight and Jack feared for his life.
— Jack and the Beanstalk

Much like the story of the Kandahar Giant and the MOAB bomb coverup, we are still left with more questions than answers. What are these so-called “giants”? Which accounts are true and which are purely lore? Are old legend giants really living in the modern day world? Though the stories, histories, and testimony we’ve addressed may not be conclusive proof, they seem to point to the existence of giants as less legend, and more real, than many regular-sized humans may like to believe.

For further insight into giants, Nephilim, and their origins, take a listen to The Confessionals Episode 4: Nephilim - Then and Now; Episode 18: L.A. Marzulli: UFOs & Nephilim Giants; and Episode 42: The Genesis 6 Conspiracy with Gary Wayne.

Are old legend giants really living in the modern day world?

Are old legend giants really living in the modern day world?

New York's Spooky Island of the Dead

New York City is home to many famous places: Broadway. Times Square. Central Park. The Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. Wherever you are in the world, you've probably heard of these big-name attractions, located only in The Big Apple.

What you probably haven’t heard about are the 1,000,000 bodies located just offshore.

Yes, bodies. On Hart Island, a small plot of land in the Long Island Sound, approximately one million people are buried in a potter’s field. The lonely island has a long, eerie history that stretches into the present... where the freshly dead are still buried in open graves.

Hart Island, New York.

Hart Island, New York.

Hart Island satellite image.

Hart Island satellite image.

Hart Island’s history began during the Civil War, when the island - only a mile long and a quarter mile wide - was used as a prisoner-of-war camp. Over 3,000 Confederate soldiers were held there for four months in 1865; 235 of them died and were buried there, marking the island’s beginning as a massive gravesite.

Over the following decades, Hart Island became a place to isolate outcasts of society. In 1870, the island was used to quarantine patients during a yellow fever epidemic. In the late 19th century, it was the site of a women's lunatic asylum. Well into the 20th century, the facilities also functioned as a tuberculosis hospital, a workhouse for delinquent boys, a prison again, and a drug rehabilitation center. The island was even briefly a missile base - all the while amassing the bodies of men, women, and children in its public potter's field.

Hart Island burial, 1890.

Hart Island burial, 1890.

Along with the Civil War soldiers buried there, the dead of Hart Island are primarily the remains of the destitute, the unidentified, and the stillborn; even dismembered body parts have been disposed of in the mass graves. Called “City Cemetery,” the graves of Hart Island make up the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world. On a weekly basis, the bodies, in plain pine boxes, are stacked three high and 25 across in trenches. The process, carried out by inmates of nearby Rikers Island prison, is unceremonious, straightforward, and stoic.

For a long time, the burial sites were even reused: after 25 to 50 years of being buried (long enough to sufficiently decay) new bodies were interred on top of the old, crumbling ones. In 1977, vandals started a fire on Hart Island that destroyed most of its burial records to date, sadly eliminating the only remaining proof of existence for many of the deceased.

Also adding to its grim history are the deaths of four teenagers who drowned when they attempted to sneak onto the island. Only one body was ever found, washed up on the Hart Island shore.

Women's lunatic asylum on Hart Island.

Women's lunatic asylum on Hart Island.

Even though burials continue to occur each week, access to eerie Hart Island is very restricted. The public can only venture to the island by boat, once a month, and can go no further than a memorial and waiting gazebo at the dock. For those who have family buried on the island, a monthly visit is permitted to the burial site, but they must be accompanied by a member of the Department of Corrections. No public photographs are allowed, and paperwork to visit must be filed well in advance. Part of the restriction is a safety issue, as Hart Island is now a ruin of abandoned buildings from its previous incarnations. Among the structures are rusted hospital beds, old documents, discarded shoes, and empty caskets, creepy remnants of the island's long history. But it could be supposed that the restriction is also to ensure that the island graveyard, where so many unclaimed and unwanted have been laid to uneasy rest, stays out of the public eye. 

Mass graves, 1992.

Mass graves, 1992.

Despite its spooky history and mass corpses, a formal paranormal investigation has never been conducted on Hart Island. It is the belief of paranormal investigators that souls of the dead are undoubtedly trapped on the island, as witnesses and inmates who have been there have reported hearing the whispering of voices - many of them children - and the feeling of being watched. Hart Island has even made it onto lists of the nation’s “Most Haunted Islands.” But with so much difficulty accessing the site, it may never really be known how many of the dead still “live” on Hart Island.

Bones eroding from the earth on Hart Island.

Bones eroding from the earth on Hart Island.

Recently, however, it has been made known that the Hart Island dead are rising, in a very literal sense! After enduring years of storms, Hart Island is eroding. As the shoreline deteriorates, skeletons in the mass graves are being unearthed. Some of the bones are collected and reburied as they wash down the beaches, but still others are carried out to open ocean. Miranda Hunt of the Hart Island Project has revealed, “Entire skeletons are sort of falling out of the hill onto the beach, and then they're washed away with the tide.” The problem is so significant that the area of erosion has even become known as "bones beach." The rising skeleton situation has been ongoing since the 1990s, but only lately have efforts been made to stabilize the surfacing bones. The city is finally in the process of repairing the damage, but those repairs aren't scheduled to begin until sometime in 2019, giving ample time for many more displaced remains to simply wash away.

With its creepy past and gloomy present, it’s no wonder that Hart Island is not usually mentioned along with New York City’s famous landmarks. Indeed, there are actually a number of eerie New York islands that are kept quiet from the public, including similarly spooky North Brother Island - the strip of land where Typhoid Mary met her demise and New York saw its biggest loss-of-life disaster prior to 9/11. After over a century and a half of death and more than one million corpses, Hart Island is well-deserving of the title, “Island of the Dead.”

For more stories, facts, and photos of Hart Island, check out "Buried from the Public: Hart Island, New York" on Sometimes Interesting.

Hart Island burial trench.

Hart Island burial trench.

Egyptian City in the Grand Canyon: Smithsonian Coverup or Historical Fabrication?

Did an ancient civilization live in caves found below the Grand Canyon? Was an Egyptian tomb excavated in the desert of Arizona? According to a front page story from a 1909 edition of the Phoenix Gazette, evidence of an ancient people was discovered in the Grand Canyon region, including a city of caverns, Egyptian artifacts, and a lost pyramid - a discovery that has allegedly been covered up by the Smithsonian Institution.

This isn't the first time the Smithsonian has been accused of covering up or outright destroying evidence of great archaeological discoveries. Most famously, the institute reportedly disposed of thousands of remains of giant humanoid skeletons during the early 1900s, although mainstream news outlets do not corroborate this story; the claim is outright denied by Snopes.com; and the original poster of the story is a noted "entertainment news" site. Be that as it may, the debate over the existence of the giant human remains still continues.

In the same vein, the Smithsonian may or may not have hushed up knowledge that ancient Egyptians once dwelt in Arizona. Is it possible? Is the evidence substantive, or based on conjecture? Although admittedly there is "no tangible proof" that the lost cave city really existed in the Grand Canyon, the theories are fun and compelling. David Hatcher Childress examines the stories - take a look here and consider them for yourself!