Story #4: “The Lianhan Shee” by Will Carleton, from The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told, ed. by Sanguine Woods, 2017

The Lianhan Shee*

Will Carleton, 1888

In Irish folklore the Lianhan Shee is a vampiric, seductive, muse-like female spirit. The name comes from the Gaelic word “leannan“: a sweetheart, concubine, or favourite; and sídhe, “of the fairy (barrow) mounds” (i.e., burial mounds/graves). Also called a lianhan sidhe (pronounce “shee” or “shay”), leanan sídhe, liannan shìth, and leanhaun shee, she is one of the “faery folk” from ancient Irish folklore. Amoral at best, she typically appears in the form of a beautiful woman who takes a human lover and becomes his muse—ironic, because, unlike the muse of Greek mythology, the Irish lianhan shee’s interest in her mortal lover is often fatal for him. While she very well may inspire him, artistically, in actuality she “feeds” off his life, his purpose, his spirituality—until he has nothing left but shadows of his formal self..

One summer evening Mary Sullivan was sitting at her own well-swept hearthstone, knitting feet to a pair of sheep’s gray stockings for Bartley, her husband. It was one of those serene evenings in the month of June, when the decline of day assumes a calmness and repose, resembling what we might suppose to have irradiated Eden, when our first parents sat in it before their fall. The beams of the sun shone through the windows in clear shafts of amber light, exhibiting millions of those atoms which float to the naked eye within its mild radiance. The dog lay barking in his dreams at her feet, and the gray cat sat purring placidly upon his back, from which even his occasional agitation did not dislodge her.

Mrs. Sullivan was the wife of a wealthy farmer, and niece to the Rev. Felix O’Rourke; her kitchen was consequently large, comfortable, and warm. Over where she sat, jutted out the “brace” well lined with bacon; to the right hung a well-scoured salt-box, and to the left was the jamb, with its little gothic paneless window to admit the light. Within it hung several ash rungs, seasoning for flail-sooples, or boulteens, a dozen of eel-skins, and several stripes of horse-skin, as hangings for them. The dresser was a “parfit white,” and well furnished with the usual appurtenances. Over the door and on the “threshel,” were nailed, “for luck,” two horse-shoes, that had been found by accident. In a little “hole” in the wall, beneath the salt-box, lay a bottle of holy water to keep the place purified; and against the cope-stone of the gable, on the outside, grew a large lump of house-leek, as a specific for sore eyes and other maladies.

In the corner of the garden were a few stalks of tansy “to kill the thievin’ worms in the childhre, the crathurs,” together with a little Rose-noble, Solomon’s Seal, and Bu-gloss, each for some medicinal purpose. The “lime wather” Mrs. Sullivan could make herself, and the “bog bane” for the Unh roe, (red water) or heart-burn, grew in their own meadow drain; so that, in fact, she had within her reach a very decent pharmacopoeia, perhaps as harmless as that of the profession itself.

Lying on the top of the salt-box was a bunch of fairy flax, and sewed in the folds of her own scapular was the dust of what had once been a four-leaved shamrock, an invaluable specific “for seein’ the good people,” if they happened to come within the bounds of vision. Over the door in the inside, over the beds, and over the cattle in the outhouses, were placed branches of withered palm, that had been consecrated by the priest on Palm Sunday; and when the cows happened to calve, this good woman tied, with her own hands, a woollen thread about their tails, to prevent them from being overlooked by evil eyes, or elf-shot by the fairies¹, who seem to possess a peculiar power over females of every species during the period of parturition. It is unnecessary to mention the variety of charms which she possessed for that obsolete malady the colic, the toothache, headache, or for removing warts, and taking motes out of the eyes; let it suffice to inform our readers that she was well stocked with them; and that, in addition to this, she, together with her husband, drank a potion made up and administered by an herb-doctor, for preventing forever the slightest misunderstanding or quarrel between man and wife. Whether it produced this desirable object or not our readers may conjecture, when we add, that the herb-doctor, after having taken a very liberal advantage of their generosity, was immediately compelled to disappear from the neighborhood, in order to avoid meeting with Bartley, who had a sharp lookout for him, not exactly on his own account, but “in regard,” he said, “that it had no effect upon Mary, at all, at all;” whilst Mary, on the other hand, admitted its efficacy upon herself, but maintained, “that Bartley was worse nor ever afther it.”

Such was Mary Sullivan, as she sat at her own hearth, quite alone, engaged as we have represented her. What she may have been meditating on we cannot pretend to ascertain; but after some time, she looked sharply into the “backstone,” or hob, with an air of anxiety and alarm. By and by she suspended her knitting, and listened with much earnestness, leaning her right ear over to the hob, from whence the sounds to which she paid such deep attention proceeded. At length she crossed herself devoutly, and exclaimed, “Queen of saints about us!—is it back ye are? Well sure there’s no use in talkin’, bekase they say you know what’s said of you, or to you—an’ we may as well spake yez fair.—Hem—musha, yez are welcome back, crickets, avournenee! I hope that, not like the last visit ye ped us, yez are comin’ for luck now! Moolyeen (cow without horns) died, any way, soon afther your other kailyee, (short visit) ye crathurs ye. Here’s the bread, an’ the salt, an’ the male for yez, an’ we wish ye well. Eh?—saints above, if it isn’t listenin’ they are jist like a Christhien! Wurrah, but ye are the wise an’ the quare crathurs all out!”

She then shook a little holy water over the hob, and muttered to herself an Irish charm or prayer against the evils whic crickets are often supposed by the peasantry to bring with them, and requested, still in the words of the charm, that their presence might, on that occasion, rather be a presage of good fortune to man and beast belonging to her.

“There now, ye dhonans (delicate little thing) ye, sure ye can’t say that ye’re ill-thrated here, anyhow, or ever was mocked or made game of in the same family. You have got your hansel, an’ full an’ plenty of it; hopin’ at the same time that you’ll have no rason in life to cut our best clothes from revinge. Sure an’ I didn’t desarve to have my brave stuff long body (old-fashioned Irish gown) riddled the way it was, the last time ye wor here, an’ only bekase little Barny, that has but the sinse of a gorsoon, tould yez in a joke to pack off wid yourself somewhere else.

Musha, never heed what the likes of him says; sure he’s but a caudy, (little boy) that doesn’t mane ill, only the bit o’ divarsion wid yez.”

She then resumed her knitting, occasionally stopping, as she changed her needles, to listen, with her ear set, as if she wished to augur from the nature of their chirping, whether they came for good or for evil. This, however, seemed to be beyond her faculty of translating their language; for—after sagely shaking her head two or three times, she knit more busily than before.²

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I Came Back Haunted! Don’t Miss Stories #1, #2, #3 AND #4! in Our New Rare/Vintage Ghost Story Anthology! You have to read these!

FINALCOVERDon’t forget to read my new ghost story anthology! FOUR stories have already been posted…these are rare vintage stories by lesser-known but very high quality writers. They are among the creepiest oddly haunting stories I have ever encountered, and that’s saying a lot.

Sanguine Woods Books(sm) will be offering a full ebook in late fall 2017 that will include along with these stories, a handful of new ghost stories written in that old-fashioned vein by some of the great modern writers of ghostly fiction.

So stay tuned! And, thank you so much for your support!

Click here to read Story #1 “How Love Came to Professor Guildea” by Robert Smythe Hichens, 1900…

Click here to read Story #2 “What Did Miss Darrington See?” by Emma B. Cobb, 1881…

Click here to read Story #3 “The Woman at Seven Brothers” by Wilbur Daniel Steele, 1888…

Click here to read Story #4 “The Lianhan Shee” by Will Carleton, 1830…

We Came Back Haunted: An Essay on the Ghostly by Ernest Rhys (1921)

We Came Back Haunted

Ernest Rhys, 1921


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In my recent Ghost Book (The Haunters and the Haunted,1921), M. Larigot, himself a writer of supernatural tales, collected a remarkable batch of documents, fictive or real, describing the one human experience that is hardest to make good. Perhaps the very difficulty of it has rendered it more tempting to the writers who have dealt with the subject. His collection, notably varied and artfully chosen as it is, yet by no means exhausts the literature, which fills a place apart with its own recognised classics, magic masters, and dealers in the occult. Their testimony serves to show that the forms by which men and women are haunted are far more diverse and subtle than we knew. So much so, that one begins to wonder at last if every person is not liable to be “possessed.” For, lurking under the seeming identity of these visitations, the dramatic differences of their entrances and appearances, night and day, are so marked as to suggest that the experience is, given the fit temperament and occasion, inevitable.

One would even be disposed, accepting this idea, to bring into the account, as valid, stories and pieces of literature not usually accounted part of the ghostly canon. There are the novels and tales whose argument is the tragedy of a haunted mind. Such are Dickens’ Haunted Man, in which the ghost is memory; Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, in which the ghost is cruel conscience; and Balzac’s Quest of the Absolute, in which the old Flemish house of Balthasar Claes, in the Rue de Paris at Douai, is haunted by a dæmon more potent than that of Canidia. One might add some of Balzac’s shorter stories, among them “The Elixir”; and some of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales, including “Edward Randolph’s Portrait.” On the French side we might note too that terrible graveyard tale of Guy de Maupassant, La Morte, in which the lover who has lost his beloved keeps vigil at her grave by night in his despair, and sees—dreadful resurrection—“que toutes les tombes étaient ouvertes, et tous les cadavres en étaient sortis.” And why? That they might efface the lying legends inscribed on their tombs, and replace them with the actual truth. Villiers de l’Isle Adam has in his Contes Cruels given us the strange story of Véra, which may be read as a companion study to La Morte, with another recall from the dead to end a lover’s obsession. Nature and supernature cross in de l’Isle Adam’s mystical drama Axël—a play which will never hold the stage, masterly attempt as it is to dramatise the inexplainable mystery.

Among later tales ought to be reckoned Edith Wharton’s Tales of Men GHSTSGRBXN1937and Ghosts, and Henry James’s The Two Magics, whose “Turn of the Screw” gives us new instances of the evil genii that haunt mortals, in this case two innocent children. One remembers sundry folk-tales with the same motive—of children bewitched or forespoken—inspiring them. And an old charm in Orkney which used to run:

“Father, Son, Holy Ghost!
Bitten sall they be,
Bairn, wha have bitten thee!
Care to their black vein,
Till thou hast thy health again!
Mend thou in God’s name!”

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Rue Morgue #176! Are You Reading It?

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INSIDE ISSUE #176

FEATURES

TWILIGHT OF THE GODS Series creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green bring Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to network television. Plus: Vincenzo Natali on directing Crispin Glover, Dark Horse’s American Gods comic and a look back at Gaiman’s novel. By Andrea Subissati, Pedro Cabezuelo and Jess Peacock

THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOWMAN The life and legacy of cultural boogeyman Anton Szandor LaVey on the 20th anniversary of his death. Plus: the occult in fashion and a few words with 3teeth frontman Lex. By Sean Plummer, Benoit Black and Andrea Subissati

THE WONDER FEARS The Watcher in the Woods director John Hough takes us back to the Disney movie that traumatized a generation of tots. Plus: a look at Disney’s dark side. By Amy Seidman and Paul Corup

CHAINSAW AND DAVE’S CLASS REUNION Summer School’s lovable gorehounds celebrate 30 years of the characters who made being a horror fan cool. Plus: a dossier of horror devotees. By Jeff Szpirglas and Tal Zimerman

DEPARTMENTS

NOTE FROM UNDERGROUND Andrea says hello.

POST-MORTEM Letters from fans, readers and weirdos

DREADLINES News highlights, horror happenings

THE CORONER’S REPORT Weird stats, morbid facts and more

NEEDFUL THINGS Strange trinkets from our bazaar of the bizarre

CINEMACABRE The latest films, the newest DVDs and reissues feat. The Void

THE LATE-NITE ARCHIVE I Bury the Living

BOWEN’S BASEMENT The Horror of Party Beach

BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS Comics feat. Not Drunk Enough

THE NINTH CIRCLE Book reviews feat. John Cornell’s Chalk

THE FRIGHT GALLERY The spooky works of Eric Millen

THE GORE-MET Human Pork Chop and Dr. Lamb

AUDIO DROME Music reviews feat. new album from Ghoultown

PLAY DEAD Game reviews feat. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

CLASSIC CUT The Cat and the Canary

Source and Buying Info:

http://www.rue-morgue.com/online-store/Rue-Morgue-176-May-Jun-2017-p83323287

“The Fascination of the Ghost Story” by Arthur B. Reeve, 1919

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The Fascination of the Ghost Story

An Essay by Arthur B. Reeve, 1919


What is the fascination we feel for the mystery of the ghost story?

Is it of the same nature as the fascination which we feel for the mystery of the detective story?

Of the latter fascination, the late Paul Armstrong used to say that it was because we are all as full of crime as Sing Sing–only we don’t dare.

Thus, may I ask, are we not fascinated by the ghost story because, no matter what may be the scientific or skeptical bent of our minds, in our inmost souls, secretly perhaps, we are as full of superstition as an obeah man–only we don’t let it loose?

Who shall say that he is able to fling off lightly the inheritance of countless ages of superstition? Is there not a streak of superstition in us all? We laugh at the voodoo worshiper–then create our own hoodooes, our pet obsessions.

It has been said that man is incurably religious, that if all religions were blotted out, man would create a new religion.

Man is incurably fascinated by the mysterious. If all the ghost stories of the ages were blotted out, man would invent new ones.

For, do we not all stand in awe of that which we cannot explain, of that which, if it be not in our own experience, is certainly recorded in the experience of others, of that of which we know and can know nothing?

Although one may be of the occult, he must needs be interested in things that others believe to be objective–that certainly are subjectively very real to them.

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“The Psychic in Literature” by Dorothy Scarborough, PhD, 1920

 

The Psychic in Literature

Dorothy Scarborough, PhD

War, that relentless disturber of boundaries and of traditions in a spiritual as well as a material sense, has brought a tremendous revival of interest in the life after death and the possibility of communication between the living and the dead. As France became nearer to millions over here because our soldiers lived there for a few months, as French soil will forever be holy ground because our dead rest there, so the far country of the soul likewise seems nearer because of those young adventurers. The conflict which changed the map of Europe has in the minds of many effaced the boundaries between this world and the world beyond. Winifred Kirkland, in her book, The New Death, discusses the new concept of death, and the change in our standards that it is making. “We are used to speaking of this or that friend’s philosophy of life; the time has now come when every one of us who is to live at peace with his own brain must possess also a philosophy of death.” This New Death, she says, is so far mainly an immense yearning receptivity, an unprecedented humility of brain and of heart toward all implications of survival. She believes that it is an influence which is entering the lives of the people as a whole, not a movement of the intellectuals, nor the result of psychical research propaganda, but arising from the simple, elemental emotions of the soul, from human love and longing for reassurance of continued life.

“If a man die, shall he live again?” has been propounded ever since Job’s agonized inquiry. Now numbers are asking in addition, “Can we have communication with the dead?” Science, long derisive, is sympathetic to the questioning, and while many believe and many doubt, the subject is one that interests more people than ever before. Professor James Hyslop, Secretary of the American Society for Psychical Research, believes that the war has had great influence in arousing new interest in psychical subjects and that tremendous spiritual discoveries may come from it.

Literature, always a little ahead of life, or at least in advance of general thinking, has in the more recent years been acutely conscious of this new influence. Poetry, the drama, the novel, the short story, have given affirmative answer to the question of the soul’s survival after death. No other element has so largely entered into the tissue of recent literature as has the supernatural, which now we meet in all forms in the writings of all lands. And no aspect of the ghostly art is more impressive or more widely used than the introduction of the spirit of the dead seeking to manifest itself to the living. No thoughtful person can fail to be interested in a theme which has so affected literature as has the ghostly, even though he may disbelieve what the Psychical Researchers hold to be established.

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Vintage Horror: “The Beckoning Fair One” by Oliver Onions, 1911

f2bbae68bf0335095be4e13221d4467bTHE BECKONING FAIR ONE

Oliver Onions, 1911

THE THREE OR four “TO Let” boards had stood within the low paling as long as the inhabitants of the little triangular “Square” could remember, and if they had ever been vertical it was a very long time ago. They now overhung the palings each at its own angle, and resembled nothing so much as a row of wooden choppers, ever in the act of falling upon some passer-by, yet never cutting off a tenant for the old house from the stream of his fellows. Not that there was ever any great “stream” through the square; the stream passed a furlong and more away, beyond the intricacy of tenements and alleys and byways that had sprung up since the old house had been built, hemming it in completely; and probably the house itself was only suffered to stand pending the falling-in of a lease or two, when doubtless a clearance would be made of the whole neighbourhood.

It was of bloomy old red brick, and built into its walls were the crowns and clasped hands and other insignia of insurance companies long since defunct. The children of the secluded square had swung upon the low gate at the end of the entrance-alley until little more than the solid top bar of it remained, and the alley itself ran past boarded basement windows on which tramps had chalked their cryptic marks. The path was washed and worn uneven by the spilling of water from the eaves of the encroaching next house, and cats and dogs had made the approach their own. The chances of a tenant did not seem such as to warrant the keeping of the “To Let” boards in a state of legibility and repair, and as a matter of fact they were not so kept.

For six months Oleron had passed the old place twice a day or oftener, on his way from his lodgings to the room, ten minutes’ walk away, he had taken to work in; and for six months no hatchet-like notice-board had fallen across his path. This might have been due to the fact that he usually took the other side of the square. But he chanced one morning to take the side that ran past the broken gate and the rain-worn entrance alley, and to pause before one of the inclined boards. The board bore, besides the agent’s name, the announcement, written apparently about the time of Oleron’s own early youth, that the key was to be had at Number Six.

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