Thursday, 12 April 2018

Book find...'Fifty Most Amazing Crimes of the Last 100 Years'

Sometimes these books just find you don't they, and this one...THIS one is fantastic. It dates from 1936 and as the title suggests it chronicles 50 of the most 'amazing' crimes of the 100 years previous to that date. There is no author name, but it was edited by J.M Parrish and John R. Crossland, Published by Odhams Press Ltd.

From the first case - Landru: A Real Life Bluebeard by H Russell Wakefield which is described as "Dark, bearded, sinister, urbane, greatest 'lady-killer' - in the most terrible sense - of all time" to the final one - Fritz Harman: Terror of Hanover by F.A Beaumont, this book drips intrigue, I can't wait to delve into it and see what it brings. I will keep you updated as I go!

Now on Tumblr...

Being already on Twitter and Instagram (not a fan of Facebook) we are now venturing onto Tumblr - so many of the folks we follow on Twitter are there and it looks like a great platform to dismiss boredom - although I feel I may get sucked in and will lose hours of my life....hey ho!

Do follow us there @darklegendsmoonlitmyths - we are on Istagram and Twitter also as @moonlitmyths :)

Thursday, 1 March 2018

"When snow falls dry, it means to lie".

As I write, storm Emma is making her presence known! Outside the wind is gusting and the snow is swirling around...and it is COLD.  This made me think about the folklore relating to snow, and this one seemed more than relevant.

'When snow falls dry, it means to lie'...and that is exactly what we have here, tiny, hard pellets of snow mixed in with softer ones, the slightest breeze is making it start to drift and it stings your face if you venture out into it. Dry snow at this time of year is said to predict a dry summer, whereas softer snow tells of a wet spring and summer. It is also said that if a snow storm starts with small, dry, hard flakes it is more likely to last a long time and stick, whereas wetter, softer flakes at the beginning of a storm results in a shorter fall.

Well, by the looks of it, we are in for a doozy, it certainly makes me doubt the well-known saying 'its too cold to snow'. Kettle on again I think, stay warm out there folks.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Elf holes and fairy doors.

I think of myself as very lucky, in the way that when I was a child, my parents and I walked a lot. On these walks my Dad would sometimes tell me tales, superstitions and stories of the countryside, being from a farming family superstitions were rife with his elders...everything (or so it seems) could bring bad luck! Never bring snowdrops into the house, red and white flowers mixed in a vase would mean a death in the family, never bet on a horse with one white foot, they go on and on.

However, on a lighter note, elves and fairies were not always a bad thing. Holes and cracks in cliffs and rock formations were elf entrances to their homes, and similar crevices in trees were where fairies lived. We would often leave a little present (a sweet, a penny, a flower) by the hole as a good will gesture for passing through their area - to a small child this was fantastic. 

In my adult life I have found many similar things, fairy doors are now made by craft people to put in one's garden for example. Research I did for an article about the Domovik house spirits seemed very familiar and I could see in my mind's eye farm houses from my childhood being home to such helpers.

Are children still told these tales? I do hope so. Sadly in the age of political correctness I wonder sometimes if these age-old stories will be allowed soon! The resurgence in storytelling and folklore should hopefully keep these encounters alive...fingers crossed.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Doomed to Sail Forever - The Flying Dutchman.

The mysterious ghost ship The Flying Dutchman, recently brought back to fame by the Pirates of the Caribbean films is actually a long-standing nautical legend dating from around the 17th century. The name ‘Flying Dutchman’ refers to the ship’s infamous captain Hendrik van der Decken, but it has become known as the name of the vessel over time, it is a phantom ship doomed to sail the seas forever as punishment for the evil behaviour of the captain and crew. 

The Flying Dutchman has been sighted many times over the last few hundred years, usually from afar or on the horizon around the Cape of Good Hope and sometimes described as having a ghostly light around it. The ship often appears during storms and is considered an omen or portent of doom to anyone who sees it especially if they are also on board a ship. Mariners used to nail horseshoes to the masts of their vessels in an attempt to ward off the Dutchman and any bad luck associated with it. Most versions of the story behind the doomed ship tell of a horrible crime that took place on board or sometimes of a disease that infected the crew, due to the crime or illness the ship was not allowed to sail into port anywhere and was therefore condemned to sail forever. 

In one Dutch version of the tale, the ship’s captain, here known as ‘van Straaten’, was an arrogant man who claimed he could sail around the Cape of Good Hope, he said he would not retreat even if faced with a terrible storm, the ship was lost during the voyage however and the dead crew still sail the seas today. A German version of the legend says the captain, this time called van Flakenberg, engaged in a game with the devil, he subsequently lost and was condemned to a living death aboard his ship, never allowed to set foot on land again. 

The Flying Dutchman is said to have been seen as recently as 1923 at the Cape of Good Hope – the ship’s legendary home which is known for its treacherous sailing conditions, the ship was seen from land just on the horizon although many say it was simply a trick of the light. The last recorded sighting of the ship was in 1942 off the coast of Cape Town; four people saw the Dutchman sail into Table Bay... and simply vanish. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Buckhurst Hill Shuck, Essex.

One of the most recent sightings of this spectral black dog was in 1989. A small group of teenagers were walking through a local graveyard one night when a large hound appeared and scared them, shortly after this, the beast leaped the churchyard wall and 'landed' on the bonnet of a passing car, much to the driver's shock.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Poveglia Island.

Poveglia Island - it is a place you can’t visit, it isn’t open to tourists or the public, nobody local wants take you, in the rare event that people have been to the island, most have come away wishing they hadn’t tried except for some paranormal investigators.  It is considered one of the most haunted places on the planet, and its history explains why. 

Situated between Venice and the Lido area in northern Italy, Poveglia Island looks like an innocuous place, green, wooded, with a large building to one side and a generally tidy, peaceful place, but it has a past that makes one shudder.  It started out well enough, in the year 421, people from the surrounding Padua and Este fled to the island to escape barbaric invasions that were occurring in Italy, these people were the first inhabitants of Poveglia and by the 9th century the island became fully populated and stayed that way for many years, until Venice came under attack from the Genoan fleet in 1379 and the people were moved off the island leaving it abandoned. It remained uninhabited for centuries and it began to promote an ominous feeling in local people. It is said that in 1527 the Chief Magistrate of Venice and Genoa offered the island to the Camaldolese monks, but they turned down the offer, then in 1661 the descendants of the original inhabitants of Poveglia were given the chance to rebuild their village on the island, but they also flatly refused. 

This however, isn’t the only history of the Island; there is a much more disturbing series of events related to the plague or ‘black death’. Dating right back from Roman times Poveglia Island was used to contain thousands of plague victims, and then again during the times when the disease spread through Europe - it was considered an efficient way of keeping the infected people physically separated from the healthy.  At first it was just the dead bodies that were taken there for burning, but as the plague spread, living people infected with the disease were taken, dumped and left to die mixed in with the bodies of the dead.  

In the 1700s when the island was under the control of the public health office and became a useful checkpoint for ships, goods and people visiting Venice, until two ships arrived with the crew infected with the plague. At this point, the large, imposing buildings seen today were built and the island was again used to confine those with the plague. Those who have visited the island say that it is still possible to read the writing scratches onto the walls of the building by people who were confined there. Over 160,000 people have died on Poveglia Island during its history. 

The disturbing legacy of Poveglia Island doesn’t stop there; more horrific records exist from much nearer today. In 1922, the island and it’s buildings were used as a mental hospital, people give accounts that the doctor in charge supposedly tortured and killed many of his patients there, eventually becoming mad himself, legend has it that he either jumped or was thrown to his death from the bell tower, and according to that same legend, he survived the fall, but was 'strangled by a mist that came up from the ground'. 

There are plans that the Italian government may open up Poveglia Island to the public, but it will be interesting how many people will actually visit, and what the opinion of the local people will be. A place with as much evil history and recorded haunting will certainly attract many people, but how many will leave wishing they hadn’t gone in the first place?