Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fantastic Creatures & Other Magical Monsters Part 2

by Susan A. Sheppard

Vampires

It may come as a surprise that originally vampires were neither romantic nor attractive. Vampires were hideous graveyard creatures in the process of decomposing, cold, clammy, oozing with gore and with the stench of decay on their breath. But unlike the Zombie, another reanimated corpse, the vampire retained some consciousness of his former life. Originally vampire tales can be traced to places like India, Greece, the Middle East, most 
especially Scythia (northern Middle Eastern countries) that made their way into Eastern Europe, brought by the Gypsies or Romani peoples migrating out of India, where the vampire saga gained momentum, unfolding its legend like the multi-petals of a blood-red rose.

In the beginning the vampire was little more than a shade or a ghost, or at least an energy thief coming in the guise of a vexing spirit. Usually this ghost was thought to be someone who had recently died, one who missed his family and tried to return by leaving his grave at night.But after one died, the spirit of the deceased could change into something much more malevolent. Often, the vampire would attack those who were sleeping, feeding upon their vital energies, crushing and paralyzing his victims with supernatural strength. Since the walking dead or the vampire had become a demon of sorts, crucifixes were placed above headboards of beds, and garlic wreaths were put in strategic spots in the home, such as over doorways or in windows to ward off the afflicting fiends.

Sleep Paralysis, or the Old Hag Syndrome as well as beliefs in “Elf pressing” and being “Hag ridden” may explain what is really behind ancient tales of vampirism, when its victims woke up tired and depleted of energy while remembering the presence of an evil spirit having visited upon them the night before.
At the same time, vampires were capable of transforming very much like witches and fairies that are transformed through their fairy-witch glamoury powers. The vampire was thought to turn himself into a bat, a wolf, a rat or a mist that could seep under doors or through openings in the windows. Also, like the living, the vampire needed sustenance, preferably human blood.


Yet, it is implied that it's the vampire’s control over his victim that is most important. The vampire is a monster who has gained mastery over himself and his urges. He is not an emotional wreck of a monster like the werewolf He chooses his victims to suit his purposes. The vampire may be cursed but he is not at the whim of his curse and really rather likes being a vampire.

Like most parasites, the vampire is mostly concerned with self-preservation, at least in the tales that have developed around his legend. As a preternatural being, the vampire is only vulnerable while he is sleeping. Somewhere between a ghost and a ghoul, vampires are commonly referred to as revenants, from the French word revenir meaning “to return.” In this way, it is easy to see how the vampire remains a type of carnal ghost.
Churel
In India, the Churel is a malefic ghost of a woman who dies in childbirth. Typically, the woman is from a lower caste and suffers from resentment toward other classes whom may not have been as poor as she once was. The Churel ghost is recognized by her reversed feet, her lacking of a mouth and she haunts areas that are in ruins and places that are filthy. Some sources say that if the Churel does have a mouth, she has fangs and a long, lashing black tongue.

The Churel can sometimes project the image of a beautiful, seductive siren, capturing men and never releasing them until their hair is completely gray or white. She feeds upon the men she was once in love with and then moves on to others. In this way, the Churel is somewhat like the European vampire and can be gotten rid of similarly, by breaking the ankles of the corpse, fixing an iron nail in the four corners of the burial ground or placing seeds on the road between her grave and home.

(The idea of placing beans or seeds with a corpse is a universal one – it is believed the ghost will spend the night compelled to count them, and thus, will NOT be able to haunt or bother human beings.)

In parts of India, women who die on the streets are buried face down so they, or rather their spirits, will not turn into the dreaded Churel ghost.

Clootie

“Clootie” is a Scottish name for the Devil or some other diabolical imp that is intent upon pestering human beings. Clootie simply means “cleft-footed” alluding to the Devil’s hoof. Also called “Auld Hornie” it is likely Clootie is a remnant of the older god Pan or other pagan gods denigrated by the church as fallen angels or demons. However, the Scottish believed Clootie was the Devil himself.

Interestingly, “clootie” is also the name of prayer rags tied to Hawthorn trees near holy wells in Ireland and Scotland. It is theorized the clootie rag is derived from the old Scottish word for cloth, however, in common folklore God and the Devil as actual beings that are never very far apart.

The cloven-footed god Pan was the one who tended flocks and sheep in early mythology. With his horns and pointed beard, the one who peacefully herded sheep, just like Christ, otherwise known as Clootie, or Pan in the Mediterranean world, came to be a symbol for the Christian Devil.

The “Clootie Croft” in Scotland is an untilled area of land that is left over as a gift to the Devil to occupy him so he won’t cause trouble for humans.
Old Bloody Bones

“Old Bloody Bones” is the tale of a Lancashire or Yorkshire, England spook or wraith that hides in deep ponds and other dark, murky waterways. With his long white fingers Old Bloody Bones will pull and tug unsuspecting children (especially those who misbehave) under the water, sometimes drowning them in the process.
“Old Raw Bloody Bones” is also an African-American folktale from West Virginia that tells of a disobedient boy named John who brings bad luck on his family. As John continues with his mischievous antics, Old Bloody Bones soon appears and turns him into a spot of jam on the tablecloth. The boy then promptly goes to sleep but awakens when he hears his mother come into the room ready to wipe the table. He yells and his mother hears him before the table is wiped clean. Soon John springs back to his original form and promises to always obey his mother from then on. After that, he is no longer afraid of “Old Raw Bloody Bones.”

Dhampir
“Dhampir” is what the Romani, or Gypsy peoples called their vampires or walking dead. Dhampir differed from other vampires because they were born from the union of an actual vampire, or revenant, and a human mother.

Dhampir boys born became the vampijerovic and the girls were lampijerovic. The Dhampirs were not completely vampires because they were mortal and did not live forever like the preternatural vampires.The Dhampir’s humanness made him an excellent vampire hunter who was able to detect other vampires by using his shirtsleeves for a telescope, whistling in the dark and other hidden techniques to seek out the undead.

Once a vampiric family was detected, the Dhampir would conduct a ceremony where he would wrestle with the invisible fiends, and eventually, after a great struggle, he would declare he had killed the vampires and set their souls free. In most instances, the struggle with the vampire was an invisible one. Afterwards, the Dhampir would collect his fee until another vampire invasion prompted his skills of vampire killer of being needed again. In Kosovo in 1959 a public Dhampir ceremony was held. Performed by Yugoslavian Gypsies, it was the last one on record.
Chepi


The Chepi is a type of a ghost or fairy believed in by the Algonquin Indians, Narragansett tribe of what is now Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Chepi, like fairies once were, were also thought to be potentially jealous spirits of the dead. However, it was believed that if they were placated by the right offerings and rituals they would impart wisdom and special blessings upon the living.

The Chepi spirits most often appeared in female form. They could sometimes seek vengeance upon those who commit evil acts therefore those who do bad things should always fear the eventual wrath of the Chepi. These spirits usually communicated through the pawwaw, or rather, a spirit medium.


Lemures

Lemure” was the Roman name for their ghosts. However lemures were graveyard spirits more similar to vampires or ghouls. Greatly feared, the Romans held rites to banish or appease the lemures – thought most active in the month of May. Lemures were also thought to haunt their own descendents and neighborhood graveyards. It was speculated that the lemures were human souls that had died tragically and were bitter about it.
The Romans celebrated a “Feast of the Lemures” held on May 9th, 11th or 13th was called Lemuria. During the festival, the Romans performed banishing rites to rid their houses of spirits of the dead. The larvae were especially a malignant form of the Lemuria, having some similarity to vampires and pretas or “hungry ghosts.” Salt cakes were eaten to banish malevolent ghosts. Black beans were also burnt in the home to keep the lemures away. The Romans believed in evil spirits which they called lares and other ones they called manes. It was not determined if the manes were good or evil, but they were considered ghosts of individuals who had died.




Monday, July 11, 2011

Fantasic Creatures & Other Magical Monsters: Part 1


by Susan A. Sheppard








Werewolf


“Werewolf “ comes from the Old Saxon word wer, meaning man, coupled with the word “wolf" literally translates as “man-wolf.” But unlike ghosts or spirits, the werewolf is a corporeal beast. One could turn into a werewolf just by being bitten by a wolf. Add wizened gypsies, a great full moon and some henbane, and voila, another werewolf is born.

During the Middle Ages, werewolves were looked upon pretty much the same as witches, or mortal human beings who made a pact to the Devil, ones who rubbed magical ointments on their bodies in order to fly, and were capable of transforming themselves into animals, such as a wild a cat, in order to gain power over others or visit evil upon them. They did not start out as a shade or a ghoul in legend as the vampire did. Instead, the werewolf was a brute of a beast whose only magical ability was shape shifting.
According to Hollywood movies, the werewolf is cursed and suffers because of it in his human form. The werewolf strives to defeat or contain his bestial nature, whereas, the vampire may know he is cursed, but does not wish to change and has no remorse over his beastly acts. The werewolf begs to be locked into a room upon oncoming night to contain his savage nature, especially during full moons, while the vampire gladly leaves his coffin for a night on the town under the very same circumstances.

Early 20th Century writer, Montague Summers firmly believed in werewolves and wrote and published his book “The Werewolf’ in 1933. But Summers concluded much as others did in Medieval times that Lycanthrope was the result of some dealings with the Devil, thus, werewolves, and witches too, were practicing a form of Satanism.

And yet, stories of werewolves abound in almost every society, every country, including non-Christian ones and places without wolves, such as Japan, might have Were-foxes, thus, stories of werewolves as beastly creatures of the night, pre-date Christianity by a few thousand years.

In ancient Greece and the Baltic regions, a number of cults worshipped werewolves, or at least canine creatures very much like them. The earliest Germans believed that their ancestors returned to them as wolves. Later in Germany, the hide of a hanged criminal could transform a man into a werewolf, if he chose to wear the skin during the Full Moon. At least, it was thought.

The dates of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are both linked to the werewolf Children born during Christmas or New Year’s Eve had a better chance of becoming a werewolf it was believed, especially if the baby was born having teeth already. A baby at birth wearing a “caul” (or membrane sac over the face) was also a possible werewolf.

Chthonic Deities

Chthonic (from the Greek khthonios, of the lower earth) deities were spirits of the underworld, minor gods that were first thought to be ghosts of the dead or ancestral spirits among the ancient Greeks. Chthonic deities were sometimes referred to as “tomb snakes,” slithering things from beneath the earth. Many early Greek gods and goddesses had chthonic attributes such as snakes for arms, legs or hair. Most chthonic deities were barely more than twisted ghosts and were never given names.
Any spirit associated with the Underworld is considered a chthonic spirit such as Hecate and Persephone. Chthonic deities were not necessarily evil or malignant, but were unpredictable and usually had both positive and negative components.


Alfar


The “Alfar” are Germanic elves that balance the forces between darkness and light according to Teutonic mythology. They are a balancing of opposing elements, but not necessarily as in good and bad. Alfar, itself, stems from the Indo-European word root word albus, meaning “white.” The Liosalfar are the elves of light and can often be mistaken for ghosts since they appear at night, in a nimbus of light, or appear as shiny.
Dokkalfar are the black elves who are less friendly toward humans. They are said to sit on the sleeper’s chest at night and whisper bad dreams into his ears. The Dokkalfar are known to be openly malicious, but once they make a promise or an oath, they cannot break it.

Ankou

In Celtic lore, “Ankou” is the driver of a spectral cart whose appearance brings about the certain death to a household where his cart pauses or stops. Greatly feared, Ankou appears as a tall, gaunt figure with long, straggly white hair or hair of flames. He is sometimes seen as a skeleton with a revolving or spinning head able to see what goes on before or behind him.
Ankou is also able to view the past and the future with his twirling head. As a skeleton ghost, the French believed Ankou traveled at night, riding a creaking wagon with four black horses leading him. This links Ankou to another Celtic phantom, the Irish Banshee whose hearse is said to be led by black horses, sometimes headless. Sometimes two figures are witnessed walking on each side of Ankou’s cart, ready to open to the gates of the underworld where Ankou escapes before the sun rises just like the Slavic Nosferatu. Daylight is the only safe time that Ankou isn’t spreading his misery throughout the countryside.

Badb

In Celtic lore, the “Badb” meant “the fury,” and is a raven or crow-like goddess that lords over the outcome of war and battle. The Badb goddess primarily spreads evil and carnage, inciting violence wherever she travels. In ancient times, battlegrounds were often referred to as “Badb’s lands” by the Celts. She was also called the “Scald-crow,” usually taking the form of a crone or a hag with oily black hair with strands that floated like the feathers of a crow. Her other name, Badb Catha means “battle-raven.” Babd was also thought to sometimes take the form of a wolf. During Celtic and Teutonic wars it was claimed she roamed the battlefields, wringing out the bloody clothes of the dead, somewhat like her counter-part the Bean Sidhe or Banshee.

Banshee

The “Banshee” is a good example that fairies do not always bring goodness and light. These ancient Irish-Scottish death fairies bring omens of doom to certain Irish and Scottish clans. The Banshee is most well known for her wailing cries, usually heard along waterways, where she washes out the bloody clothes that belong to members of her clan. The Banshee or Bean Sidhe among the Irish is literally translated as “woman of the hills.” The sidhe, or “the good people,” have long been thought to be fairies.

With long, streaming, red hair, milk-white skin and green, woolen clothing, the only way you can tell the Irish Banshee is a messenger of doom is her eyes remain blood red thought to be caused by her constant crying for her Irish dead. Although the Banshee is more often seen than heard, she is sometimes glimpsed combing her long hair with a silver comb by a lake or a stream.

The Bean Tidhe, or the fairy housekeeper, is the Scottish version of the Celtic Banshee. The Scottish Banshee appears as an old crone, dressed in funerary rags, and is often preceded by a black hearse with two headless horses leading the way. Some call the Banshee “the washer at the fords” because she is associated with bodies of water, across which her bloody cries are often heard. Some describe the Scottish Banshee as a hideous hag, with only one nostril, sitting stiffly on her horse, appear almost sexless from her advanced age.
On rare occasions the Scottish Banshee is sighted as a beautiful raven-haired woman in a shimmering green dress who rides a white mare. Some believe the Banshee steals souls and returns them to Celtic Fairyland where all Celtic souls come from. Likewise, the Banshee shares the power of “glamoury” (shape-shifting) with mortal witches, so she can project any age, image or vision that she wishes.

Although there are hundreds of Irish surnames who have attendant Banshees tied to their clans, a few stand out, such as O’Kennedy, O’Reagan, and O’Lennon. These names were later shortened to Kennedy, Reagan, and Lennon, three famous men of Irish descent who were felled by an assassin’s bullet in the 20th Century – only one survived. It is important to note that the sidhe, or fairy people, may be based on actual human beings that populated Ireland and Scotland before the Celts. Sidhe simply means “powers” or “fairy powers.”

(The above purple-red-eyed Banshee is the wonderful art of Ricardo Pustanio, to illustrate my story "The Banshee of Center Point, which is an area in Doddridge County, WV.)

Billy Binn

“Billy Binn” is the name of a household spirit in the English countryside. He is a type of a ghost that watches over manors and old homes. Also found in Scotland, Billy Binn can be both helpful and mischievous. He works hard, but sometimes revolts against the owners so cannot be trusted. He will vandalize homes of owners who make him unhappy. In many ways, Billy Binn is much like a poltergeist, knocking ghosts or psychic energies that raise havoc in a home.

Bloody Mary

Popularized as an adolescent game played during slumber parties, the “Bloody Mary” legend seems to have first surfaced in the 1970s. The initial idea was to go to a mirror (usually the bathroom mirror) where the light would be switched off and the door closed to make the room pitch dark. Players are asked to take a candle, hold it up to their faces, and chant the phrase “bloody Mary” exactly thirteen times, no more and no less. In an instance the face of the alleged Bloody Mary is said to appear in the mirror whose face is seen by the light of the candle.
The participant should then drop the candle immediately and run from the room, for as legend has it Bloody Mary has been known to pull her victims into the mirror never to be heard from again. Even worse, she will slit their throats and they will die bleeding on the bathroom floor.
No one claims to know who Bloody Mary really was or how the legend really started. Some say Bloody Mary is the ghost of a woman who was burned as a witch and other stories tell she is the spirit of a young woman killed in an automobile crash. She is sometimes also called Mary Worth.
As most folklore believed in by adolescents and some adults, Bloody Mary holds most power over the human imagination, and no doubt will be part of sleepovers for a while. She may have a real historical basis. Mary I, daughter of Henry the VIII, and Catherine of Aragon, was also called “Bloody Mary” for her persecution of Protestants in England. Hundreds died under her reign which ran from July 19, 1553 until her death on November 17, 1558.

Boggart

The Boggart is an ugly fairy related to boogers and gnomes of old English fairy lore. They are said to have flat feet, wearing a dirty red cap and tattered clothing. Boggarts are said to inspire mischief in small children, and other kinds of troubles for rural families especially. They are said to blow out lamps with their foul-smelling, farty breath, wake up sleeping babies, cause hens to stop laying eggs, break farm equipment, cause spills and create any number of annoying stresses in the household. A markedly homely fairy, this is upsetting to the Bogart, because, after all, he is a fairy and fairies are known for their vanity no matter how unappealing they are. Just like other fairies Boggarts do react positively to flattery it is told. In households where the Boggart is appreciated, he becomes helpful, showing great skill in his work around the farm, just like his cousins the Brownies.
It is believed that when you see curtains moving in the room as if by an invisible wind, a Boggart has just passed you by.

Booger

The word booger stems from the Welsh word bwg. Boogers are bog creatures that are lumbering and clumsy, rather than evil and cunning. They seem to have an indirect link to Shakespeare’s Puck, as in the fairy Pooka, but their origins were much plainer. Puck was originally considered to be a spirit of the forest. The Pooka aspect of the Booger associates him with nightmares and the Wild Hunt since Pooka was sometimes said to lead the Wild Hunt and kidnapped people out of their beds at night. Boogers are where our concept of the “Boogie man” comes from. Another related word is bogy, meaning nasal mucous, hence “boogers” are the evil leaving one’s body after one sneezes.

Cait Sith

In Scottish folklore, the Cait Sith is a fairy cat, nearly-solid black, large than a fox, but with a small, white spot on its breast. Whenever portrayed in art or drawings, the Cait Sith is usually shown as a Halloween cat, with back arched and bristling.
The Highlanders believed that the Cait Sith were actually witches temporarily transformed into black cats. Some came to believe the Cait Sith was a demon cat.
In reality, there is evidence that the Cait Sith is may be a large cat roaming rural Scotland, a species known as the “Kellas Cat,” a hybrid cat of local feral cats and Scottish wild cats. Others believe that the Cait Sith belongs to the realm of the fairies since none have ever been captured, although there are photographs of the Kellas Cat.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ghostly Creatures & Haunted Things That Are Mostly Black



By Susan A. Sheppard


Black Annis

When the goddesses of old Europe went underground with the advent of Christianity, they were often reborn in the guise of a hag. Black Annis, a frightening fairy, is one such scary goddess, a blue-faced woman, transformed from earlier beauty into a decrepit, old crone. She is said to live in a cave in the Dane Hills of England. Legend speaks that the cave was scratched out by the long talons of Black Annis and in later times, she often hid behind rocks so she could leap out in order to kill children and lambs.
On the Monday following Easter, a dead cat was dipped in aniseed and dragged from a cave to the Mayor’s house in order to exorcise the vile spirit of Black Annis. This clearing of Black Annis’s spirit would stay into effect until the next Easter.
The lore surrounding Black Annis may have Pictish origins, since her face like that of the ancient Picts was said to have been painted blue. In modern day, legends and stories about Black Annis are
scarce throughout the British Isles.


Black Fairies

Black Fairy is a term that is sometimes used for Irish or Scottish Banshees.  The Black Fairy is a death spirit associated with ancient clans or septs of the British Isles. There were other types of fairies referred to as black fairies, as told by John Walsh in 1566, and later written down by Lady Wilde, who wrote extensively on the fairy races, “There be three kindes of fairies, the black, the white, and the green, which black be the woorst."  The Banshee, or "Black Fairy" is an attendant death fairy and even though she does not cause a death, she will announce the death of certain members of her clans by her wailing or keening cries, which sound human to a degree, but also unearthly.
In Appalachia, a female should never be buried in black clothing or else she will return to haunt relatives or the graveyard where she is buried. In pre-Victorian times fairies were always associated with the realm of the dead. In ancient Ireland it was commonly believed souls of the recently dead must first pass through Fairyland before entering heaven.
 
Black Cats

Among the ancient Celts, black cats were believed to be reincarnated souls who were able to divine the future. Later, in Europe black cats where looked upon as the Devil himself and were associated with Pluto, God of the Underworld.(In Edgar Allan Poe's story "the Black Cat" Poe accurately named the cat "Pluto.") In Germany in the Middle Ages it was believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person, it meant death was quickly approaching.
The Scandinavians thought that black cats carried the souls of the dead into the afterlife. Because of the mystical and magical powers of the black cat, it is no surprise they became linked to evil powers, and were burned as witches familiars in the Middle Ages. But black cats have not always been associated with ill luck. In Scotland, a woman who owned a black cat could always look forward to lots of suitors. It was also believed in Scotland that a black cat finding its way to your house assured future prosperity.

Black-Eyed-Children

Not children in the flesh, but spirits referred to as Black-Eyed-Children appear as ghosts with eyes black as coal and no sign of an iris or pupil. They are considered to be demons. A feeling of dread or uneasiness is often felt when in proximity or contact with these beings. There has never been an explanation as to why the eyes are pitch black but "Black-Eyed-Kids" are considered spiritually malignant or evil.



Black Horses 
Black horses were once used to detect the graves of vampires in England and other parts of Europe. It was thought that a black horse would become greatly agitated while being led over the grave of the undead. In Scotland, black horses were linked to the Devil but were not persecuted for it – however, they were watched closely for change in mood or problems with temperament. Banshees sometimes rode a black horse. Otherwise, they were preceded by a death coach with two headless horses leading the way. In some cultures, it is believed that a white horse can detect the presence of vampires in graveyards. However solid black horses, like other black creatures, were thought to have extra-supernatural powers.

Black Monk of Pontefract

A strange cause of poltergeists associated with sighting of the hooded apparition that appeared to be a monk that took place in 1966 in northern England has never been fully explained. Pontefract is an ancient, medieval town located in West Yorkshire. The nearby Pontrefract Castle dates from 1070 and there are a number of ancient ruins surrounding the town. In September of 1966 the home of a local couple Jean and Joey Pritchard (the parents of two teenaged children) began to be plagued by what seemed to be a violent and frenzied outbreak of poltergeists.
The activity started when their son Phillip was staying with his grandmother in the house while the rest of the family was on vacation. During the evening, a great gust of wind came up and pushed open the front door. Before they could get to it the door slammed shut and an icy cold entered the room. As soon as the door closed, a cloud of whitish dust filled the room. Phillip and his grandmother fetched the neighbor who was an aunt to the Pritchard children. The aunt helped the elderly woman and teenager mop up the strange dust but it instantly reappeared.

In the beginning, no one in the family was frightened since the activity seemed to be an odd, but natural phenomenon. As the aunt and grandmother were cleaning up, the wardrobe proceeded to sway back and forth. That evening the aunt remembered a family friend who was an expert on ghosts and asked his help. The man felt it might be poltergeists causing the problems, but nothing had been broken so far which was the case of most poltergeist hauntings. The minute the ghost expert had left they heard a crash and discovered the Pritchard’s wedding photograph on the floor with the glass inside the frame broken. It was then Phillip and his grandmother left the home to stay with the aunt until the Pritchard’s and daughter Diane returned home.

Once the Pritchard’s came home the haunted activity died down and did not re-emerge for another two years. Jean Pritchard was having tea with a friend when they heard noises upstairs. When the two women got up to investigate and found the bed clothes and also Phillip’s pajamas thrown to the bottom of the stairs. The haunting had intensified where there would be bangs and thumps and rooms suddenly going cold. Jean later discovered a plate of sandwiches she had placed in the ice box had bites taken out of them. Utensils and plates flew through the air. A priest was later called in and attempted to convince the Pritchard’s that it was only the house settling. He changed his mind when a candlestick lifted from a dresser, floated over to him and wave itself under his nose. The priest left in terror saying there was great evil in the house.
It became clear all too soon the Diane Pritchard, the young daughter, appeared to be the epicenter of the haunted activity. At one point Diane was thrown out of her bed and dragged up the stairs by unseen hands. Later, four light bulbs, which were a part of the gas fire in the living room suddenly materialized in Diane’s bedroom. Another skeptical aunt visited the home and was terrified when a pair of furry hands reached around the door at her. It was then they realized the hands were actually fur gloves the aunt had been wearing.

When the aunt screamed “get away—you’re evil” the gloves taunted her by clapping as if in delighted applause over what she was saying. The aunt then sang a hymn to scare the ghost away but the fur gloves only clapped in time with her song. The family admitted while seeing the gloves moving without hands was frightened they could not help but be amused over the ghost’s response to the aunt’s initial skepticism.

After the aunt left, Jean and Joe woke up to see a sinister-looking, hooded figure in their doorway. As Joe ran to switch on the light, the dreary apparition vanished. Visitors to the home also claimed to see the monk. One woman claimed it brushed her on the head. In looking into the history of the property where their house stood, the Pritchard’s discovered there had once been a monastery close to the house. The last appearance of the Black Monk was when the children Diane and Phillip were watching television and saw the monk moving through the house beside a glass door. Phillip ran after the apparition only to see the ghost disappear into the kitchen floor. This was the last time the monk’s ghost was ever sighted and the haunted activity died down on its own never to reappear in that particular home.


Black Shuck


Appearing as a black dog, Black Shuck is a portent of tragedy or sudden death. Seemingly spectral, and completely black, Shuck is reported to have the same glowing red eyes much like the Banshee. Like most of the supernatural creatures that haunt the British Isles, Black Shuck is strongly linked to the fairies. Sometimes appearing without a head, he is always larger than the average dog.
A castle in Warwicke, England is said to be haunted by a large black dog – Or as most called him Black Shuck. It is told that many years ago a worker woman stole milk and butter from the castle and sold it on her own. When the owner found out about the theft he promptly dismissed her. As the woman left she vowed to “get them haunted.”
A short time later, a black dog with smoldering red eyes appeared. The local priest was called in to banish what the castle owner considered to be a demonic dog. For a while it appeared the exorcism was unsuccessful until the worker woman finally died.

Another legend tells of Charles Walton of Alveston, England meeting a phantom Black Dog over a period of nine evenings. On one startling night, instead of a black dog, a headless woman appeared and swished by him in a long silken dress. Where her head should have been were the eerie red eyes just like Black Shuck. Shortly afterwards, the man’s sister died quite unexpectedly. In another part of England, near Whitemore Park, a black dog with matted coat and glowing green eyes is said to wander.

Alleged witches during the Wild Hunt, or Walpurgisnacht in Germany, were thought to be led by Black Shuck over parts of the British Isles. On the European continent, the Wild Hunt was thought to be lead by gods and goddesses rather than dogs or animals. Some have reported seeing Black Shuck flying through the air on a carpet of mist.
Susan A Sheppard