Archive for June, 2012

One of my favourite legends is the Germanic one, Faust. A scholar who is successful but dissatisfied with life, he makes a deal with the devil. Faust exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The “deal with the devil” has also become known as the Faustian deal where a person surrenders their moral integrity to achieve
power.

There are many different takes on the legend in books, opera, film and poetry at the very least. The puppet plays and theatre enactments were popular in Germany in the
16th Century where Faust and Mephistopheles were figures of vulgar fun. Christopher Marlowe made the play a classic in England with his “The Tragical History of Doctor
Faustus”. Goethe reworked this story some 200 years later and Faust is an intellectual who desires more than just the pleasures of meat and drink.

The overall story remains the same, Faust is very intellectual and yet bored with this. He calls on the devil, he wants more power, knowledge of magic and a way to indulge all
the pleasures and knowledge on earth. He makes a bargain, Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magical powers. At the end of the term they will claim Faust’s soul which
will be eternally damned. The term usually appears as 24 years.

Faust makes great use of Mephistopheles during this term, during this he seduces a beautiful innocent girl called Gretchen. Her life is destroyed but her innocence brings her to the graceful Heaven. In Goethe’s reconstruction God saves him thanks to a combination of Faust’s constant striving and Gretchen’s prayers. However in the earlier tales he receives the full wrath of the Devil and is carried off to Hell.

1725 is the one that Goethe read when he was younger, the origin of the name of Faust is possibly thanks to Dr Johann Georg Faust who was a magician and alchemist. He obtained a degree from Heidelberg University in 1509. It is however possible that it comes from Gutenberg’s partner Fust, however I suspect there is no definitive way to
say yes to either.

As I am also a bit of a manga/anime fan I also feel compelled to mention that the name (and story of similar types) frequently seems to turn up in some of my favourites. In Yami
No Matsuei (Descendents of Darkeness) a version of the Tartini story where a young man makes a pact with a devil to play the “Devil’s Trill”, in their version however the young man is unwittingly part of the devil’s pact when a lense from the previous owner is transplanted and the demons contract transfers.

In Blue Exorcist Mephisto Pheles is the headmaster of a school that deals with Exorcism’s and is a rather eccentric demon, to put it mildly.

Aside from that we have the “magical Mr Mephistopheles” from Cats. And lastly, since I am actually happy to do my own art and stories, I leave you with my little projects on the
matter so far.

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Roads, streets and highways are all subject to the lore of a phantom vehicle and other strange phenomena. I’ve already touched on phantom hitchhikers but what about other myths and legends?

America

Annie’s Road in New Jersery, USA is the the site of local haunted legends. A woman supposedly killed on the road continues to haunt it. The area is located in Totowa, NJ and on the first half of River View Drive. A quick internet search will show you that there are several local myths about this one, including a need to put on old music to draw her out as you drive down but you will also find just as many comments about how this is nothing more than another Urban Legend.

Boy Scout Lane, is located in Wisconsin and it a dead-end road with no outlet. This appears to be an urban legend or something taken from pure fiction and lifted into semi-myth fact. Basically they say that there was the death of a fictional troop of Boy Scouts. There are however no records of either fatalities or mystery disappearances but despite this is remains an area where people try to conduct paranormal investigations.

Clinton Road, United States is another one of those with a tale that I find a little more like an old myth or urban legend that includes alleged sightings of ghosts, strange creates, witches, Satanists and even the Ku Klux Klan? If you go to the bridge at the reservoir at midnight and throw a penny (or maybe a cent who knows) into the water it will then be thrown back by the ghost of a boy who drowned there. Not content with one ghost there is a possibility of running into a Camaro being driven by a girl who crashed it in 1988 (and if you mention that event she is more likely to appear). Of course if two ghosts isn’t enough how about two more? There are also supposedly two park rangers that haunt the Terrace Pond area.

England

A616 road or Stockbridge Bypass connects Newark-On-Trent to the M1. When it was being constructed staff reported encounters with a ghostly monk who may have been from the nearby Hunshelf Priory. However I could not find any recent records about it. Harry Unsworth was a lorry driver in 1958 who reported that he gave a lift to a Hitchhiker. He dropped the man off and then he re-appeared again without explanation some miles down the road… This was reported more than once in the 50’s.

Coulds Hill near Wareham in Dorset has worried some drivers, hearing the sound of a powerful engine (more exactly it suggests a 1920’s Brough Superior Motorcycle) that sped around followed by sounds of screeching tyres and then an eerie silence. Nobody has seen the rider but it’s been theorised it was World War One hero Lawrence of Arabia who was killed in a spot nearby in a similar accident.

The “Phantom Lorry of Cheshire” has been reported stalks the Hyde to Mottram  road. As far back as February 1930 the shadowy truck has been blamed for causing drivers to crash when they serve to avoid a suddenly appearing vehicle coming out of a side road that is not there upon inspection.

Between Blanford and Salisbury (Wiltshire) motorists are often shocked by a phantom wreckage by the side of the road with screams and groans of the crash victims. Other have said they have seen a ghostly-face of a man, felt the icy touch of a hand and even to have seen a severed bloody hand on the floor!

Elsewhere!

E8 Expressway, or the Karak Expressway in Kuala Lumpur suffers the report of being one of the most haunted roads in Malaysia. Many people report seeing strange creatures and Pontianak on the road.

“Uniondale Phantom Hitchhiker” is on the N9 Road in South Africa on the road between Uniondale and Willowmore, in the semi-desert of Karoo. A girl named Marie Charlotte Roux died in a road accident on that stretch of the N9, April 12th, 1968 (Good Friday)

Or the Covenanters’ Prison, is in Edinburgh. A historical part of the city too as it has had burials there since the 16th Century and has some notable figures there. 1200 Covenanters were imprisoned in a field to the south of the Churchyard and later in the 18th Century the field became part of the churchyard with vaulted tombs and got it’s nickname.

A sweet story of the Greyfriar’s Bobby also comes from here, a loyal dog that guarded his grave. His headstone is at the entrance to the cemetery and the grave of his master John Grey, an Edinburgh police officer, is buried around 30 metres north to the cemetery entrance. The stone is modern as the grave was originally unmarked.

This is also a good place to see Mortsafe’s (search my earlier posts for more on those) amongst burials of some notable historian’s, architects and Colonel Francis Charteris, a member of the Hell-Fire Club.

As with all things I seem to write about, we’re into the supernatural now. Rumours have it that Greyfriars cemetery is haunted.  One has been attributed to “Bloody” George Mackenzie buried 1691, he causes bites, bruises, scratches and many visitors report strange feelings.

Electronically generated noises that sound like speech, they are not intentionally recorded noises and are usually caught as part of a stray transmission or within static etc. The interest in this lies mainly in the paranormal, and there are explanations on a scientific level to try and debunk the claims. I had previously mentioned these but I think it’s worth another visit as it may well prove useful when I go into other subjects later on, if only to explain my perspective and some of the ones I might choose to blog on.

Thomas Edison was asked in an interview about whether or not he could use his inventions to communicate with spirits. He said that only if the device were sensitive enough to pick up their sounds, but there is no evidence to support he ever tried to work on it.

Attila von Szalay was an American photographer and amongst one of the first to try recording the voices. He began in 1941 and tried to do this with a vinyl style records but then found it became more successful to try once there was the invention of reel-to-reel tape. His custom made attempts, along with Raymond Bayless, meant they used a microphone in a cabinet and would ensure they were out of the way as it started. Bayless was a co-author to a book in 1979, “Phone calls from the Dead”.

“The Spiricom” made in 1980, by William O’Neil was an electronic audio device which he claimed was built to order by a George Mueller, a scientist that had died six years prior. He stated in a press conference that it allowed him to hold two-way conversations with spirits and provided the design for free. Nobody is known to have replicated the results and his partner, George Meek, felt that maybe it was due to O’Neil’s already present medium powers that the system worked.

The Ghost Box (invented 2002) was made by enthusiast Frank Sumption for real-time communication. The device is a combination of a white noise generator with AM radio receiver that sweeps back and forth selecting split-second snippets of sound. Whilst the “Ghost Box” has been a frequent flyer on the TV it is cited by critics as being more to do with pareidolia than actual communication.

Psychologist Imants Barušs has finds his conclusion to be that EVP cannot be replicated under controlled conditions.

Interference from CB’s, wireless baby monitors etc are all documented phenomena. It is possible for circuits to resonate without any internal power source by means of radio reception. Captireing these anomalies may well resemble what is known as EVP. Early EVP on tape could also be explained due to the fact that quite often the tapes might suffer poor erasure, or prevoius recordings. Many a time when I was younger and used tapes you would get an “echo” of the recording from before or even parts from the tape the other side.

The paranormal investigators love to talk about EVP’s as beings such as spirits or in some circles the idea they maybe extraterrestrials. It is felt by some modern spiritualist churches that electronic communication is just as valid as traditional mediumship.

My own personal experience with what might have been considered as EVP until I found the source really did freak me out. I was living in a one bed flat at the time and had my PC on the main desk, the computer was turned off every night but I never thought about the speakers. Three or four times I woke up hearing very odd whispers and sounds. I naturally sought out why this was happening and spent one night with them turned up full blast. Eventually with the help of another friend we realised the signals were from a police radio and that we were picking up fragments of broadcasts, turning the speakers off totally solved that case… but then again who’s to say that what I found debunks it entirely! I remain open minded.

The report came from a place near Preston, Lancashire. A husband and wife moved into the property and neither had any particular interest in the paranormal. They were later to find out that the longest anyone had stayed in the property was three and a half years. They did not stay long either.

Shortly after moving in the wife spotted a a shadow move across the kitchen window as she was washing up, she looked up to see a young man in old corduroy trousers, dirty grey jacket and muddy heavy shoes. She thought he was a local youth and watched him go through towards a short cut via a hedge. She went out to see him and ask what he was doing but was unable to find any trace of him.

The incident repeated itself many times and on a couple of occasions he walked towards the door but never knocked on it, then turned around and walked to the bottom of the garden. He always seemed to follow the same routes which leads to the idea that he may well have been on a replay, some kind of imprint on the area that continues like a recording with no interaction involved.

She did not mention it to the children, her husband seemed understanding but he remained sceptical. One afternoon her parents came to visit, as they got out of the car they witnessed the young man too. They too followed but could not find him, inside the rest of the family had coffee and chatted. The wife’s mother then asked where their visitor was, but she explained that there was no one else. They described the same boy and although she was glad it was not just her imagination she was very worried by the knowledge it was a ghost.

Months passed and nothing happened, he was all but forgotten but a year later she saw him again. Three days later she was with her parents in the back of the house and they saw him again. This time her mother shouted at the young man but they got no response. They also came to the conclusion that the times they had seen him were in October.

Her husband then requested for an investigation, before the bungalow had been built there was a farm, there were still some fields at the back. The route of he land corresponded to where  a path had once existed.

The couple that had lived on the farm had tried to get their son to study hard rather than to be stuck working the land. He had got a place at university but he had become troubled and would often walk around with this head down, seemingly working out some decision. His parents had been unable to help him through is isolation and they hoped he could work out the problem for himself. Unfortunately he never had recovered one afternoon in October he threw himself into a pond and drowned.