Into the Ghostly Gloom: Strange Tales of Haunted Caves

Caves are already inherently spooky places as it is. With their cold, rock walls, claustrophobic dark tunnels, and eerie caverns bathed in perpetual night, these are already innately scary, although also ofttimes beautiful places. Yet there are caves that have an added layer of creepiness by being plagued with hauntings and various ghostly high strangeness. Here in the impenetrable pitch black of an eternal midnight sinister history, deaths, and curses all converge to create subterranean lairs for things beyond our understanding, and truly earn them the reputation of being terrifying locations. It is perhaps not so surprising that there should be haunted caves, and their gloomy ambiance lends itself to such tales quite nicely. Here are some of the more bizarre of these cold, haunted places lying down within rocky catacombs where the sun is a stranger.

One very scary cave is located in the U.S. state of Arizona, near a place complete with ghost town called Canyon Diablo just off Interstate 40. The ghost town itself is a relic of the days when railroad men toiled away creating the tracks that would carry settlers further west, and in this case it was mostly focused on providing services and entertainment to those who were in the process of trying to build a railway bridge over the canyon. The town became notorious for being a lawless place crawling with outlaws, gamblers, and prostitutes, and was notable for its many brothels, saloons, and gambling houses. The town withered away when the railroad was complete, and in its place would later spring up the outpost of Two Guns, which catered to travelers along the infamous Route 66.

The area apparently has its own rather sinister history stretching back to when the Apache Indians inhabited these lands. According to the tales, in 1878 a band of Apache warriors descended upon a Navajo camp to mercilessly massacre the residents there, including men, women, and children, before pillaging what they could. The Navajo retaliated by sending their own warriors to track down their attackers through the bleak desert. Although at first they could find no sign of their quarry, they purportedly at one point were startled when hot air began to blast out of the ground below their feet. As it turned out, the Apache who they were tracking had hidden in a cave system underground, and the heat of their fires had swollen up from below to belch forth to give away their position…..

Many See Image of White Lady Ghost in Tree Near Her Castle

Irondequoit, New York, is known for being a large suburb of Rochester, the one-time home of major league baseball manager (and dad of two major leaguers) Cal Ripken Sr., and the place where a White Lady ghost haunts a nearby lake area. Now tourists have one more reason to visit Irondequoit – a tree damaged in a recent storm shows what many believe is a life-size image of its most famous resident.

No, not Cal Sr. … the mysterious White Lady, who seems to have moved from rising up out of Lake Ontario to rising up out of the roots of a tree in Durand-Eastman Park near the aptly-named White Lady’s Castle where she reportedly once lived. The eerie tale and many sightings, including the aforementioned rising out of the water that has given the ghost the additional Arthurian appellation “Lady of the Lake,” have made the area a popular haunted attraction and the subject of a 1988 movie called “Lady in White.”

The story, like the ghost’s name, has some variations, but the characters stay the same. Her actual name is unknown but most agree that the ghost is a woman who lived sometime in the 1800s in an isolated estate on land that is now the park. The protective mother had a beautiful daughter who attracted the young men in the area, but the woman kept her psychologically locked in the castle with warnings of their bad intentions.

You can predict the rest. The girl snuck out one night and never returned. The more horrific stories say she was murdered by a frustrated suitor or a gang, while others say she drowned or just ran away. The mother was said to have wandered the area alone every night, wearing a white dress (of course) and sometimes accompanied by two white dogs. She allegedly died without ever finding her. The estate was left empty and eventually deteriorated to just a foundation, which is the “White Lady’s Castle” where haunted tours, high school kids and lovers’ lane seekers hang out in hopes to see the ghost walking the grounds or rising from the lake to walk across it (for those who believe the daughter drowned)…..


Strange Tales of Ghostly Pets

There has long been the assumption that only humans have true souls. We like to think that we sit on some high perch above the rest of the myriad of life that populates our planet. Yet what about the dear pets we keep? Alongside us often exist beloved animal members of the family that form emotional ties with us, live with us, and forge deep bonds with us. Is it possible that upon their passing they can find a way to linger within our world as ghosts, just as surely as humans are believed by some to do? Do animals have souls that can transcend that boundary between life and death? There have long been cases and accounts that seem to point to that possibility, and show that, if a life after death exists, we are not unique in our ability to partake in it. Here we will look at cases of ghostly dogs, cats, and others, and see that maybe animals do have souls that survive death after all, or at least that they can become ghosts.

Considering the popularity of dogs as pets, it is perhaps no surprise that a good portion of ghost pet accounts take the form of dogs. Take the case of Preston, a boxer who apparently died when he ran out into the road to save a young boy who was out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood of Nashville’s Belmont Hillsboro. According to the tale, a 13-year-old girl and her younger brother had been out trick-or-treating one Halloween night when the boy fell behind after he dropped some candy in the road. As he bent to pick it up, a car came barreling through and would have hit him if it wasn’t for the neighborhood dog Preston, who came speeding out into the road to be hit by the car instead. Ever since then, people in the neighborhood have claimed that every Halloween a disembodied barking can be heard in the area, and many have claimed that an unseen dog will brush against them or nudge them when they are in danger of wandering into the road. The girl from the original story, now an elderly woman, apparently leaves a dog biscuit out every year for the spectral pooch. Spooky tale or reality?….

Death Incarnate: Bizarre Tales of Plague Bearing Phantoms

Death has been a looming specter that has haunted mankind since time unremembered, ever since the first flashes of self-consciousness appeared with the evolution of our minds, along with a blooming awareness of the stark reality that we are eventually, inevitably going to die. Considering this powerful influence and fear that the shadow of death has held over us and its unstoppable approach, it is perhaps not a surprise that cultures around the world have sought to give it an embodiment, some sort of avatars to give this dark, intangible force a form and physical appearance to personify it.

There are countless ideas about this personification of death spanning far-flung cultures, mythologies, and religions all throughout history, ranging from the black cloaked Grim Reaper, to angels of death, to decidedly more monstrous demonic entities, and everything between, displaying a vast variety of methods for their sinister work. One very prevalent form of death personified are the tales of what could be called “plague bearers;” dark, mysterious beings that bring with them plague, with “plague” being a sort of catchall phrase for any disease epidemic in ancient times. These ominous beings have taken many forms throughout history, and are featured in bizarre, far-flung accounts from a variety of disparate regions all over the world going back centuries, but all of them share certain similarities in that they feature an enigmatic figure or apparition whose appearance brings with it certain death, torment and strife by disease and pestilence. Is this all pure legend and folklore, or is there anything more to it?

Stories of such entities go back far into history. In the 6th century, the Byzantine Empire, which covered a vast area reaching from Egypt to the south all the way up to Italy, was struck by a massive pandemic of plague. At the time, it was widely reported that there was a group of three small boats roving up and down the coast that were manned by headless men who appeared to be stark black in color. It was said that the appearance of these mysterious boats was a bad portent, immediately preceding an outbreak of plague, and whenever they passed a town sure enough the populace would be ravaged by disease. The menacing boats and their inscrutable headless crews were said to have originated somewhere in Egypt in around 547 AD, after which they became a common sight out at sea off plague infested areas throughout the Empire, to the point that the mere sight of them instilled mass panic in a populace that knew the horrors to come. When the sinister boats left, the plague outbreaks, which had been called the Plague of Justinian, after then Emperor Justinian I, who also happened to have miraculously survived the plague, faded away…..

Video May Show Ghost of Knight at Haunted Berkeley Castle

Despite all of the ghost-hunting organizations and television shows today, it seems the best way to spot a ghost continues to be by not looking for one in the first place. That was the case with a video shot by an experienced video technician testing his new drone over Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire England. The test provided some great aerial views of the ancient haunted castle and a moving image which doesn’t take much imagination to believe it’s a ghostly knight riding through the gate. Is it the spirit of a faithful follower of Edward II trying to warn the king of his gruesome demise? Or possibly a knight running late for the show of the last court jester, who died in the castle under mysterious circumstances?

It’s the type of ghost video that’s easy to ignore as a camera aberration or a hoax … except it was shot by Thomas Arnold, a TV production technical specialist who told GloucestershireLivethat he took the proper steps to first eliminate the possibility of camera malfunction and then to look for other possible explanations.

“Where the footage was shot, the drone lost contact with the control, which was with me. I pressed the ‘return to home’ key, but it wasn’t until I got home that we noticed what I would describe as an apparition going through the courtyard.”

Yes, it was during the ten seconds the drone was out of contact with the remote that it picked up the apparition. However, Arnold found nothing that would indicate the drone malfunctioned – loss of contact with the remote is a common occurrence in droning. He says he ran through the video and saw nothing else unusual. Then he took the investigation a step further – he checked the weather conditions for wind speed and wind direction and the local chimneys to eliminate the possibility that the smoky image was actually smoke…..

Poltergeists and PhDs: An Interview with Dr. Christopher Laursen

Dr. Christopher Laursen is a social and cultural historian of religions, science, and nature focusing on modern America and the world. He is also among the world’s foremost scholars on poltergeist phenomena. Currently teaching at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW), Christopher recently took some time out of his busy schedule to satisfy my curiosity about a phenomenon that has long been a staple of horror cinema and literature, and which continues to capture the imaginations of millions…

Christopher Laursen: As a historian, I focused on the poltergeist phenomenon in the twentieth century for my Ph.D. The poltergeist is a term ascribed to when anomalous physical events occur. Usually they happen in someone’s home, but also in places of business, schools, or even outdoors. People often report strange knocking or tapping sounds. There are objects that move, fly, levitate, appear out of nowhere. There can be spontaneous fires. Experiencers have a great deal of difficulty knowing what to make of these events. Usually the manifestations last a few weeks or months, then stop. Sometimes they last much longer.

Before the mid-nineteenth century in Europe and America, poltergeists were most often blamed on witchcraft or the devil. Still today, around the world, super natural entities account for most explanations. Such as jinn, which are elemental beings, part of Islamic cosmology. The scholar Amira El-Zein called jinn “intermediary” beings between the terrestrial and celestial realms. So, you can think of them much like the liminal that George Hansen examines in his book The Trickster and the Paranormal. Like the Coyote of Navajo culture that would not sit with the good or the evil people in the assembly of Holy People, but would rather stand at the door, as the American anthropologist Gladys Reichard noted. When I lived in Bali, some people told me poltergeist-type manifestations were angered temple spirits or black magic. Always an intermediary aspect. Many poltergeist experiencers still suspect these physical actions are connected to spirits of the dead, who exist between the earthly realm and the great beyond….

Strange Military Encounters with the Jinn

Whenever one finds themselves to be a stranger in a strange land, there are bound to be clashes with what they know and the reality of this new foreign realm. Yet, in addition to culture shock and a deluge of new customs and traditions, there is also often a collision against the more paranormal aspects of this new place, and according to some reports, this is not only an encounter with strange magical beliefs but with actual paranormal entities beyond one’s own culture, understanding or experience. One place where this seems to have happened is in the Middle East, where soldiers far from home fighting in an alien environment and culture have allegedly on occasion come face to face with actual manifestations of one of the most ancient and persistent supernatural beings of Middle Eastern lore, creating strange and baffling encounters between the modern Western world and the unique supernatural denizens of the East.

There are few entities in the Muslim world that are as entrenched within the lore and consciousness of the populace as the mysterious Jinn, also sometimes spelled “Djinn,” which means “to hide” or “hidden”. These entities are described by the Quran as beings formed by Allah of scorching wind and smokeless fire, whereas the angels were formed of light and mankind of clay. In the wake of their creation, the Jinn were punished after being caught eavesdropping on the angels and were banished to Earth, where they are said to inhabit an invisible parallel realm to our own……