For information on an ebook edition, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. (Photos by a Sanguine Woods.)
The wall-writings at England’s infamously haunted Borley Rectory have proven to be of enduring interest. Although they may not be unique, they are memorable, with the repeated calling of the name ‘Marianne’, their chilling pleas for ‘Rest’, exhortations for ‘Light’ the ‘Mass Prayers’, and childlike scribbling, redolent of a tortured soul desperate to communicate.
Who can fail to be stirred by the account of their arrival as remembered by a visitor, the professional medium, Guy L’Estrange?:
“Later, being entertained by the rector and his wife, he heard for the first time of mysterious forms, male and female, being seen inside and outside the house; of lights in unoccupied rooms; of articles appearing and being thrown; of fires breaking out; of mysterious whisperings and unexplained writings on walls and scraps of paper. Once, the rector told him, he was working alone in his study when he saw a pencil rise from the desk and scrawl words on the wall in front of him -no hand was visible!’
— Guy L’Estrange, quoted in Borley Postscript by Peter Underwood, p.114
It is an image that we all kept when we first read the Harry Price books about Borley Rectory: the pencil rising from the desk and scrawling the words ‘Get light, mass, prayers.’
This account was introduced by the professional medium, Guy L’Estrange. Unfortunately Guy seems to have made it up. Lionel Foyster, the rector would never have said it. He was meticulous in his care for the truth and was always keen to point out that he never saw anything of a paranormal nature whilst at Borley Rectory. The story of the pencil rising from the desk does not appear in any other account.
The ‘paranormal’ writings first appeared in the spring of 1931 when the Foysters were living at the Rectory.
The diary of occurrences, written soon after the event, records the first manifestations of this strange phenomenon, and then, in instalments describes how it evolved:
“Another strange occurrence is that Marianne’s name was at one time continually being written on little odd pieces of paper in a rather shaky childish hand (Adelaide, needless to say, cannot write yet) That has stopped now as far as I know (March 23rd).”
—Lionel Foyster Diary of Occurences, p.17
In Lionel’s final account which was written seven years later, some detail was added that gave this a much more ‘paranormal’ air:
‘MF sees paper in the air; it at once falls to the ground; discovered to huave some hardly decipherable writing on it. Next day, when we come up, it has disappeared.”
—Lionel Foyster, Summary of experiences, p.4
I’m not sure how sympathetic they’ll leave me…But I came across this pretty cool collection of horror stories—all focused on, you guessed it—the Devil himself—that debonair Father of Lies, Master of Wickedness and Diabolical Disguise…Brewer of Age-Old Maleficence.
Join me? 🔥😈🔥
1 • Introduction • essay by Tim Pratt
3 • The Price • (1997) • short story by Neil Gaiman
8 • Beluthahatchie • (1997) • short story by Andy Duncan
19 • Ash City Stomp • (2003) • short story by Richard Butner
28 • Ten for the Devil • [Newford] • (1998) • novelette by Charles de Lint
51 • A Reversal of Fortune • (2007) • short story by Holly Black
62 • Young Goodman Brown • (1835) • short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne
72 • The Man in the Black Suit • (1994) • short story by Stephen King
“I feel the presence of a nun in this church…”
—Lorraine Warren, psychic investigator/demonologist, speaking to a group of psychic researchers and photographers (including husband Ed Warren) at Borley Rectory in England, during a trip there in the 1970s; it is noted that Lorraine uttered the remark immediately upon entering the building at 12:00 A.M.
In The Nun, the latest movie in the ever-expanding Conjuring universe, a cowl-clad demon with piercing yellow eyes and dagger-like teeth haunts the cloisters of a Romanian abbey and terrorizes local clergy. The film is a prequel to The Conjuring, which detailed the real case files of noted demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Those case files have also inspired film classics such as The Conjuring 2, Anabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and the 1979 horror classic The Amityville Horror.
So how much of the story about The Nun is based on actual events?
The Warren’s son-in-law, Tony Spera, said that The Nun’s ecclesiastical phantom bears resemblance to a “real” spectral nun the Warrens encountered during a 1970s trip to the much-haunted Borley Rectory in southern England.
Below: Rare color photographs of Borley Rectory taken in 1929 (left) and 1943 after the fire (right) by England’s own famous (and infamous) ghost hunter Harry Price (Source: www.harrypricewebsite.co.uk/Borley)
Remember The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor? It had a very short run, sadly. But I was an eager 12 year old and this was my cup of brew. In fact, the 1970s publication, which ran for about 20 issues, was my very first comic book collection! And…it was my initiation into the world of the Occult. I’m bringing it to you, now, Dear Reader, every month–an issue at a time…Guess you could say I’m “resurrecting a personal monster”…
Long May He Live!!!
“Ninety percent, perhaps even more, of history is not documented. And as for the little that is documented or recorded, much of it may not be history at all but the warped perception, dissimulation, cover-ups, and bias of those documenting or recording it. The task of the true historian is to detect the history that is not told, much like a cosmologist detects the structure of the universe that is not seen. To read between the lines or see between the empty spaces, that is the exciting challenge . . .”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”
This book was a very ambitious project, and I readily admit that researching and writing it was not only a thrilling experience but also a very daunting one, as well. The complexity of the topic and the sheer volume of research material made it feel like I was recklessly challenging a bookish Goliath with only a reed twig in my hand to bring him down! Yet the temptation to quest and sleuth a historical mystery of this scale was too tantalizing to pass over. There was, certainly, the initial apprehension that all authors have when taking on such a task. A long, dark tunnel must be crossed solo, and then at the other end await the inevitable lashes by experts whose feathers you are bound to have ruffled. But such qualms are then quickly dismissed by a weird—almost perverse—gladiatorial thrill of marching into the arena to do battle again with that old foe: academic consensus.
A decade ago I wrote with Graham Hancock Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith. In this book we explored the Hermetic tradition and tracked its journey out of Egypt and its influence on the design of major capital cities of the Western world. Academics, needless to say, ignored it. And the only academic who didn’t ignore it ended up repaying us by blatantly plagiarizing a discovery we made regarding the layout of ancient Alexandria. I bring this up because there was also a tiny—although immensely important—“city” that Graham and I barely touched in our book: the Vatican City in Rome. With hindsight I can say that we had thus overlooked the most important piece of that huge historical puzzle we had set about to solve. After much deliberation I finally decided to reopen the case for the Vatican City in late 2011. It was at this point that I invited the Italian author Chiara Hohenzollern and also Dr. Sandro Zicari to join me.
Let me quickly get to the point: it is often stated by historians of art and architecture that the Piazza St. Peter’s at the Vatican was designed to represent “the open arms of Mother Church.” This, in fact, is indeed claimed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini himself, the architect responsible for the design. We believe it to be a truth, but not the whole truth. Truth often comes in many layers. Revealing only one layer yet dissimulating another will make this partial truth seem to be something very different indeed. This is why today a person on the stand in a court of law will be sworn in to tell not only the truth, but rather the whole truth. We believe that there is another, far more important layer in which rests the whole truth behind Bernini’s grandiose design. This whole truth he, nonetheless, took to his grave, for it was such an unspeakable truth, such a taboo, such a forbidden fruit in his time that the mere mention of it might have brought down the whole edifice of Mother Church—that is to say, the Vatican itself. Yet the amazing daringness of Bernini’s ploy was to hide the truth in plain sight for all to see. Indeed, so well did he do this that everyone who looked—and there have been millions since—did not see it all. And when finally some did see it, so out rageous, so fantastic was its implication that they simply preferred to dismiss it as mere coincidence. Bernini clearly intended it to be a sort of intellectual time bomb meant to be detonated not in his time but when the time was right, when its revelation would not bring down the Vatican, but do, instead, the opposite. To fully appreciate the magnitude of this revelation, and to make our case worthy of the most serious consideration, we had to undertake a chase across nearly two millennia of history, from Greco-Roman Alexandria to Renaissance Rome, sometimes moving at breakneck speed, making Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons seem like a Sunday stroll in the park. It was a thrilling undertaking and, most of all, an amazing eye-opener. No matter what one may think of it, one thing is certain: Christianity and Western culture will never seem the same again.
But enough said. The die is cast. You have the evidence in your hands. No need to tarry.
We are ready to present our case . . .
Chapter 1: The True Religion of the World
Chapter 2: The Hermetic Movement, Part I
I watched a BBC documentary today on YouTube (link below), narrated by the brilliant Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), about 19th-century ghost story writer Montague Rhodes James, aka. M. R. James—or, if you knew him well: just plain ol’ “Monty” James. I’m not sure whether “knowing him well” would have been a plus or a minus after having watched the documentary, entitled M. R. James: Ghost Writer, which focused on James’ keen ability to write terrifying ghost stories.
It was uncanny. What the heck went on in that antiquarian head of his? Do we even want to know? I mean—the man could scare the trousers off a college boy.
(A little inside joke— no offense, Monty.) 😏
James is known the world over as the undisputed master of the “English” ghost story—although, why we need to qualify these stories as “English” is beyond me…slow your roll, Liz—your fanny may be on the throne, but that doesn’t mean you have the power to run the rest of us! 👑🤚
We are all collectively “human” in the end, aren’t we?
Monty James was, and still is, the master of the “human” ghost story.
If you haven’t read the ghost stories of M. R. James, you should.
You can own the complete stories in a book that fits in the palm of your hand (see my photo below)—or a larger, illustrated edition; or a collectible first edition—whatever suits your ghostly fancy.
Just be warned. These stories aren’t for the night time—well, I mean they are—but they aren’t—it’s all about the resolve of your nerve. (I was going to say “it’s all about the size of your balls”…but Liz is listening.🍒)
The story that caught my attention—“Lost Hearts”—is one I’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading. In the documentary today, Monty—brilliantly acted by Robert Lloyd Parry, a man who not only resembles M. R. James, but has a little snarl to his smile that sorta makes you wonder—is reading “Lost Hearts” to a group of 19th-century Oxford boys, at night, with nothing but the golden glow of a candle…quivering.
He reaches the point in the tale where the spectre of a young boy appears to Stephen Elliott—anoher young boy, this one very much alive—and Stephen notices the spectre’s clawlike fingernails—which have left scratch marks on the bedroom door, and tears in Stephen’s nightshirts—over the chest area…
I loved this film. It’s based on a novel by UK author S. j. Bolton I read about 10 years ago. It was a great story them; and it’s still a great story.
AN IFC MIDNIGHT RELEASE | IRELAND | APR 29TH, 2016 | 91 MINS | NR
Disturbing secrets lie buried in the bogs of a remote island in this spellbinding thriller. Shortly after surgeon Tora Hamilton (Radha Mitchell) moves with her husband (Rupert Graves) to the Shetland Islands—100 miles off the coast of Scotland—she makes an unnerving discovery: the body of a young woman with strange symbols carved into her flesh and her heart ripped out. When what at first appears to be the remains of a victim of an ancient ritual turns out to be a fresh corpse, Tora is plunged into a dangerous mystery that may be connected to the dark folklore that haunts the island’s past.
DIRECTOR: Peter A. Dowling
PRODUCERS: Peter Lewis, Tristan Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan, Arnold Rifkin
SCREENWRITER: Peter A. Dowling (based on Sacrifice, a novel by S. j. Bolton)
On March 30, 1978, the trial began in the district court of Aschaffenburg Germany, of Josef and Anna Michel and Father Arnold Renz and Father Ernst Alt. The four were charged with negligent homicide in the death of Anneliese Michel. The courtroom sitting area was occupied primarily by media persons from Germany and abroad. Anneliese, her family, a few close friends, and the two priests involved and their Bishop, all believed that Anneliese suffered from possession. At the time, it was the first official and public case of exorcism in Germany in approximately 50 years, and the only known case to have been recorded on audio tapes. After sixty-seven exorcism sessions, Anneliese died on July 1, 1976 of what appeared to be starvation…
“The Klingenberg case was for all those involved, a breathtaking experience. Someone on the outside cannot possibly appreciate this experience. Man’s imagination is stretched past the limit when it comes to demonic possession.”
– Father Ernst Alt, exorcist of Anneliese