Author: Fortean Mind

Fortean Mind is a pseudonym used by blogger Jestin Sallas. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, in Central Washington State, an area steeped in folklore and high weirdness, Jestin fills his time with his growing family, exploring the outdoors with frequent hikes and excursions into the wilds of the Cascade Mountain Range and surrounding areas and when he finds time, writes on the world of the weird.

 

Hello again Grimericans! I have to say, I fought long and hard trying to figure out what this next post for the month of October should be about. Finally, after a couple days of debating and searching, and now with a mere 35 minutes before my scheduled bed time before I begin my work-week anew, I start this post… I’m a glutton for punishment. So, because I know that since you’re reading this post, you have a somewhat above average intellect and have probably deduced that what this post is about. The scarecrow. There aren’t too many more things terrifying than a scarecrow. Well, at least in the western world. Especially if you lost in a field of corn or other crop at night when you start to make out the silhouette of a human. At least you think it’s human… I’m not going to ask what you’re doing in a spooky field in the dead of night trying to provoke pure scarecrow evil. I guess I’m not the only one who’s a glutton for punishment.

 

“Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope!”

 

 

Forms of scarecrows are spread far and wide through a plethora of cultures around the world. This has resulted in a wide variety of names for the sentinel of the fields. The Japanese have the “Kakashi”, regional terms around the U.K. include the Mommet from Somerset, the Gallybagger from the Isle of Wight, the Hay-man from England, the Tattie Bogle or the Bodach-rocais and the potatoe-doolie. (“Old man of the rocks”) from Scotland and of course the Hodmedod from around Berkshire. The Welsh have the bwgan or the bwbach. Most of these names reflect something about a scarecrow’s nature and function. Hodmedod is in reference to a goofy person, mommet involves the materials used in that of something mop like, usually made of rags. The term “Bogle” is really the only variation used that may have an overtone of paranormal origin.  While the precise etymology of the word is unknown, if we take the Welsh word for ghost bwg and the German word bögge (of which böggel-mann (“Goblin or hob-goblin”) is derived) which was cognate of the Middle-English word bugge, which is where we get the word bogey and then the word boogy or boogie, as in the boogyman/boogieman.

 

So you somehow managed to whither your way into my blogs now just like you’ve withered your way into my nightmares… Touché Boogey, touché.

 

 

Scarecrows have been in use since agriculture became a thing. At least that’s my suspicion. The oldest recorded use of scarecrows were from the ancient Egyptians who would use wooden frames covered in nets to fend their crops from the ever pesky… quail. So… scare-quails, I guess? Anyway, the Egyptians would hide in the fields and chase quail into the nets and now not only do they have more wheat to eat, but also some nice, plump quail. Way to multitask Egyptians! One year, according to one website at least, the Egyptians had a smaller crop yield than anticipated and there was much fear that they had somehow angered the gods. They put two and two together and got quail. Errr… something like that. It then began illegal to hunt and eat quail for fear of the gods extracting revenge, and anyone who killed and ate a quail would be put to death. The Egyptians started to put up more human-like figures in their fields to ward off the invasive foul. As the story on the website goes, the new human-like scarecrows worked. Then one particularly windy day, a field worker discovered the terrifying truth about the scarecrows. The wind had whipped the wrapping used to cover the scarecrows heads had been torn away and the familiar face of a man who had been executed for killing quail to feed his family stared back at him. The worker gazed upon the fields and saw many of these scarecrow in the same position as the one above. Dropping to his knees, the man prayed to the gods for the souls of the deceased.

 

“Looks like the Scarecrow crop is coming in nice this year…”

 

Now while that last story was a bit morbid, it wasn’t really paranormal, and we all know that’s why you’re here. To pinpoint why the scarecrow is often associated with the supernatural isn’t exactly easy. But I can give you my two cents, which is actually worth about 2.3 cents in sandcoins… Anyway, because of the hay-man’s strong association with crops, and its important role in a good harvest, we pair the scarecrow with the harvest season. We it is then an obvious choice for the fall harvest festivals including Halloween. What also makes it ideal for Halloween is that a scarecrow can be naturally creepy. We create them to be a proxy for us when we cannot be in the fields, a decoy save our crops from unwanted wildlife. It is human-like but not human. It is a human effigy and it’s hard to find a human effigy that is not inherently creepy. So when you put the scarecrow’s affiliation with Halloween, a time where traditionally the veil between this world and the next is supposedly at its thinnest, and the scarecrow’s intrinsic eeriness drawn from its anthropomorphic features, what you get can be the stuff of nightmares. Folklore and literature alike are littered with human-like effigies being brought to life, whether through the use of magic like in the case of the Jewish figure of the Golem, or through the use of science like in the case of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Of course, according to the great author Arthur C. Clarke, these two methods could be indistinguishable from each other. But one needn’t look far for stories about scarecrows themselves being the source of the horror. Books and movies, and movies based on books, fill our imaginations with the creepy scarecrow. There are some occult claims that scarecrows are placed in fields as a proxy sacrifice to the gods. Some associate its arms pinned on the stakes as to that of Christ on the crucifix.

 

You might not see as many hay-men in the fields of today as modern technology has led the path for other ways of scaring off unwanted fauna, the figure of the scarecrow seems to have a permanent place in our culture and in our nightmares. Who hasn’t been tricked by the “fake” scarecrow sitting outside of a neighbor’s house whilst trick-or-treating only to be met with the scare of your life and the need to change your pants. You don’t forget things like that, nor forgive them. They deserved every egg they received that year… Have any of you ever had a creepy experience with a hay-man? Let me and everyone know in the comments. Side note: I had chosen the name for this post well before I started writing it, and in my research, I found another article with the same pun-tastic title. My brain is just too tired to think of another one, so… here we are. Well, that’s it for me Grimerica, stay classy.

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Hello Grimericans! I need you all to brace yourselves… For you’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop… alright, you get the pun. As promised, I am bringing you all another post for the month of October. Unfortunately, not within the previous week as promised. Trust me, I did what I could which wasn’t much. But we’re here now. Let’s see if I can’t get write and publish this post within the next hour before I have to drift off to sleepy-town. This one is pretty straight forward so it should be a cinch. As also mentioned in last week’s post on receiving phone calls from the other side, this related post is on haunted phone numbers. Numbers that you should never dare to call for fear of certain DEATH, DEATH, DEATH… Come on, it’s October, suspend that disbelief for the next few minutes.

 

You have exactly five minutes…”

 

20 20 20 20

Told on various websites, (including now, this one) someone (not sure who) remembered reading in a book of true ghost stories that in the 70’s, children in the United Kingdom could call this number for free from payphones. In some variations, it was from a particular, red phone box. The number was either 20 20 20 20, a series of 1s & 2s or even a combination of 2s and 3s. Either way, when the call connected, there would be a woman’s voice on the other end who would simply say, “Help me, help me. Suzie is dying.” Sometimes she would plead that Suzie was drowning. Either way, the woman never seemed to get the help that she needed and neither did Suzie.

 

090-4444-4444

If you’ve ever seen “The Ring”, you are familiar with the evil witch Sadako. This number is often called “Sadako’s number” and in probability, might have been set up as a promotional interaction for “The Ring”, although , there are claims that it was around long before the movie’s release. In Japanese, the number 4 (shi) is considered bad luck because of how closely it sounds to the Japanese word for death (shi). Because of this, as I’m sure many of you know, it is similar to how in the west, we stray away from the number 13. Here in the U.S. it is common that we might “skip” the 13th floor in a hotel, and in Japan, the 4th floor often does not appear. Now this is a Japanese number but if you use Japan’s country code +81, you should still be able to get through. According to people who have had the guts to call this number, you will be met with a high-pitch, discomforting sound that will send chills down your spine. According to some urban legends about the number, you will be cursed like the victims in the movie and will have an unfortunate accident within 7 days. And if you are not from Japan and DO decide to call the number and it fails to scare you to the bone, then just wait until you get your next phone bill…

 

1-000-000-0000

Staying in the eastern hemisphere, there is the number 1-000-000-0000, that is said if you call it, (some people report receiving a call from the number) a man’s voice will warn of eminent death if the caller/recipient does not call at least 15 people to warn them of the dangers of the phone number in question. That’s about it. Well, there was one claim that after one caller made the required number of calls, they were permitted to speak to operator 4141, after which, the caller had enough of this telephonic chain letter and hung up. SPOOKY!

 

“Sorry, I’m about to lose you because I’m about to drive through a tunnel in a canyon on an airplane while hanging up on you… 15 times…”

 

 

999-9999

Man, Asian cultures have a lot of haunted phone numbers… This one comes from Thailand and is sometimes 1-999-999-9999, and one version of this story is similar to that of The Ring in that shortly after receiving a call from this number, something horrific happens to you. It has another urban legend attached to it that makes you ask yourself, “If I could wish for anything I wanted but it meant that shortly after, something horrible would happen to me that in all likelihood would result in my death, what would I wish for?” That’s right, this number is said to grant the caller one wish before, you know… death. The obvious answer to this is to simply wish for nothing bad to happen as a result of calling the number. Problem solved. Why is this number on the list again? I guess you could be tempted to use your wish to live out an otherwise unobtainable dream or fantasy that has been laying secluded in the far reaches of your mind since childhood…

 

 

There was a reason why he was the King…

 

1-666-666-6666

Now taking this to the U.S., this one is pretty obvious. Any time the mark of the beast shows up, Christians everywhere draw there shudders and lock their doors, and I guess in this case, turn off their phones. Some urban legends claim that this number will help you contact the Lord of Flies himself which seems way quicker and a far more direct method instead of all of that ritual sacrifice. And far less messy. I mean, do you know how hard it is to find someone who is pure of heart these days? But it doesn’t always work like in the case of Jen Vest. In November of 2013, the Colorado woman was half-asleep, breast feeding her son when her phone roused her from her half slumber. The number calling? Well, it was 1-666-666-6666 of course. As you can imagine, she didn’t answer and shortly after the ringing stopped, she received some 48 text messages from various phone numbers all saying the same thing. SATAN. She said she didn’t sleep that night and stayed awake praying that nothing bad would happen. In the morn, she summoned her courage and called the number back only to be met with the prerecorded message of the number no longer being in service. She later used the power of the internet to google the number and found that others had received calls from the number and in all likeliness, it was a somewhat lame prank. I mean, keeping a new mother up all night is just kind of messed up. I have a theory on what really happened here and that is that the baby wasn’t even Jen’s and she had actually stolen the infant and the Prince of Lies was a little late on paying his ‘ol phone bill and was calling Jen for an advance on her soul so he could at least pay half before being disconn…. Oh well, that’s why you got to get fiscally organized.

 

“You have a collect call from: ‘SATAN’ Please press 666 to accept the charges”

 

It should go without saying that the whole baby stealing thing is purely speculation on my behalf, but you can send your complaints to graham@grimerica.ca. That guy doesn’t get enough complaints, just an endless string of compliments on his glorious calves. Every day is leg day when your Grahambo. Anyways, I’m not too sure what next week’s post will be on. I was thinking about continuing the phone theme and talking about supposedly cursed phone numbers but we’ll see. If you, the dear readers, want to read about that or something else, let me know in the comments. I’m always open to blog topics of the fringe variety. Speaking of the comments, are there any numbers that I missed that you remember calling or maybe being too afraid to call? Let me know. But as for now, that’s it for me Grimerica. Stay classy.

 

 

FM

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Hello Grimericans! Yes, it is the one and only Fortean Mind here to grace you with a post (about time, right?). I have once again set out to try and provide you with one post a week for the great month of October… Ahhh… October. One of my top twelve favorite months. Don’t do the math on that. I hope that I can find the time between work and several podcast ventures that I have been working on, to make this goal of one post a week happen…

 

 

That top part was as far as I got last week. I guess life doesn’t really care about the goals I set. I think that if I’m able to write two today, it still counts. It’s almost 10am here in the great Pacific Northwest. We’ll see how this goes. Today’s topic of discussion will be communication from the dead. I recently talked with a good friend of mine and of Grimerica, Napoleon Doom. Nap shared an experience in ghost hunting and the use of a ghost box, also known as a Frank’s box. For those of you that don’t know, a ghost box is generally an AM/FM radio with a scanning function modified so that the scanning function doesn’t stop, this supposedly allows spirts to manipulate what words come through to answer questions and send messages. Now the legitimacy of this device is not the focus of this post. With that said, I will add that Nap had frustration with the experience had with the ghost box. Something of this nature, hearing bits of words or phrases through white noise via a jumble of radio frequencies, is based very much on interpretation and personal bias. If a spirit really wanted to use an electronic device to reach out from the other side, then a Frank’s box probably wouldn’t be its first choice. This is of course all speculation on my part as nothing is known for sure what happens to the human conciseness when we die. Maybe picking words that are readily available, bouncing through radio waves is far easier for some spirts to use than let’s say, giving a person a call. But for other spirits, this is exactly what is reported they are able to do.

 

“Remember, 30 minutes or less or it’s free!”

 

There are many reported cases of people who have passed, reaching out to a loved one from the other side. A number of those, the person receiving the call, was not aware of the caller’s demise. As with most reports of this kind, this is always anecdotal and there is no way to verify that a call was ever received, but anecdotal data is always worth something. With that in mind, here are some anecdotal stories to wet your Halloween whistle.

 

Well this is an unfortunate design… 

 

This is a report of a phantom phone call that gets repeated often and I might as well share it here as well. In 1969, an 18 year old Karl Uphoff, a New Jersey rock musician, received a call from his late grandmother who had passed a couple days prior. Karl felt that there was always a close bond between him and his grandmother and she would frequently call his friends asking for Karl. The grandmother was deaf and knowing that she wouldn’t be able to hear a response on the whereabouts of her grandson, she would quickly follow up her inquiry with, “Tell him to come home at once.” On the evening of Karl’s phantom call from his grandmother, he was visiting a friend in Montclair, New Jersey and was in the basement his friend’s apartment when his friend’s mother came to inform him he was wanted to the phone. Upon answering the call, Karl quickly realized that it was the voice of his late grandmother on the other end. Before he could ask any relevant questions, the other end hung up. More calls from Karl’s grandmother would follow and anytime Karl would try to ask how she was able to communicate or what the “otherside” was like, the line would go dead (pardon the pun). The calls eventually stopped and Karl was left feeling that there was more than just this life.

 

Perhaps one of the most famous people to have reported receiving a phone call from the other side is the author Deane Koontz. Koontz reported that the unlisted phone in his office rang one day and upon answering it, he could hear the urgent sounding voice of a woman who sounded distant and “far away”. The voice on the other end gave the cryptic and simple message of, “Please be careful.” Koontz asked who was calling but his inquires went ignored and instead was answered with the same chilling message three more times as the voice began to fade. He later claimed that the voice sounded exactly like that of his late mother who had passed some twenty years prior. He later stated, “It was a strange call.” A couple days later, Koontz went to visit his father who was being treated in a mental health facility. The author claims that after entering the room in which his father was in, his father lashed out at him with a small knife. Koontz was able to wrestle the knife away and exited the room where he was met by security guards with guns drawn. After dropping the knife and explaining what had happened, Koontz got things sorted out. He would later wondering if the phantom call he received was from his mother warning him about his visit with his father.

 

One case that is well known is that of George Meek. This case is unique in that Meek was a paranormal investigator and the phantom caller was of his late partner, Konstantin Raudive. Meek and Raudive focused on communications with the dead through EVP’s and claimed to make huge headway in the field with some amazing example of such. Raudive seemed to have wanted to continue research with his partner and apparently reached out to him some 20 years after his passing. Meek claimed to have begun getting communications from his late research partner via phone calls, email and even fax. Being a paranormal investigator, Meek had the foresight to document and record these communications which can be found here if you are so inclined. George himself passed in the winter of 1999 and you guessed it, people claim to have communication from him as well.

 

I will leave you with one more, well circulated story of phone calls from the other side. In September of 2008, there was a very tragic accident involving a Metrolink train and a freight train near Chatsworth, California. I will spare the details as it really wasn’t that long ago and some people might even remember it happening35. It was a very tragic accident that left 25 dead and 135 injured. One of the passengers on the train that day that lost their lives was a 49 year old man named Charles E. Peck. Over the course of 11 hours after the accident, friends and family of Peck received a total of 35 calls from his cell phone. The calls continued up until one hour before his body was found. In fact, it was the use of his phone’s signal which led to the discovery of his body. Investigators ruled that he had died on impact. When his friends and family answered his calls, they were simply static. Any attempt to call his phone back would go straight to voicemail.

 

Well, as always, I hope that if anything, I’ve left you with something to think about in the season of spooks. There are indeed a plethora of reports about phantom calls from the dead and I suggest you do a little research if you are interested. There is more ghostly phenomena reported with the ordinary phone. There are a large number of… well… numbers that are reportedly haunted. Just a little teaser on my next post for the month of October. Look for it in the coming week. Fingers crossed that I can get it out. Let me know what you guys and gals think about this topic. Have any of you received a call from the other side? Well that’s it for me Grimericans. As always, stay classy.

 

-FM

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Hello again Grimericans! Before you ask, no, this is not a post about the late, great, Kurt Cobain or the conspiracies surrounding his death. I’ve already done that post. With this being posted somewhat around the anniversary of his death that would be an understandable presumption. Nor does this post have to do with the spirit of a teen. I just thought it was a clever title. But now I’m regretting it with all of your questioning. But it’s too late now. Moving on; the topic of this post is something I have teased a few people with. Good ‘ol Darren even mentioned it on an episode of the Grimerica Show putting immense pressure on yours truly to get this sucker out. But like most things in my life, I’ll do them when I’m good and ready, regardless of how much an overbearing, tyrannical Canadian overlord pushes me. So with that, if you haven’t guessed what the subject material is yet, it’s is on paranormal smells.

 

So the idea for this post came to me after a video call from my favorite (and only) little sister. She was at her place, eating strawberry sherbet with a side of pickles, or whatever pregnant women do, when her nostrils where suddenly hit with the distinct smell of Copenhagen chew. This fleeting aroma triggered an emotional (she was pregnant at the time) and instinctive feeling that my late grandfather had taken time out of his busy schedule of cheating at cribbage in heaven, to come and pay her a visit. She immediately called her favorite brother to ask what he knew of such phantom smells. When he didn’t pick up, she called me. All the better for her as I am of the fortean mindset (See what I did there?). I told her what I knew, which was admittedly not as much as I would have liked and basically said that if she wanted to believe that it was our cribbage cheating grandfather checking up on her and the bun in her oven, then there was nothing wrong with that. I then suggested that I might do a blog post on the phenomena. Actually what I said was, “I’ll write my next blog post on the subject.” And here we are, four or five months later, two or three blog posts in between, and I’m semi being true to my word. It’s not that I didn’t want to jump into the topic, quite the contrary. I just had a heck of a time finding much information on the subject. In fact, after hanging up with my sister, I did a preliminary search of close to two hours on the interwebs resulting in just about bupkis. It’s not just that I couldn’t find a lot on the subject but that after finding the link or small paragraph on a page that covered it, it was not any new information. After coming to this realization, I then thought to myself that someone should write a comprehensive article or even a book on the phenomena. The next day, in a synchronicity that scored relatively low on the Canadian Third Party Ranking system, fortean researcher Joshua Cutchin popped up on my podcast feed, promoting his new book on paranormal smells on the show Mysterious Universe. I then decided that I wouldn’t write this post until I have read his book. “The Brimstone Deceit:  An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas”.

 

The book is more than I could have asked for. Not only covering supernatural scents that involve the presumed spirits of the passed on, but as the title suggests, it also covered the otherworldly odors associated with UFO’s and their occupants and the monstrous miasmas involved with bipedal hominids. But for the purpose of this post, we will focus on the scents of spirits aspect. Something that became very clear to me was that I could not write a post as in depth as his book. Then I realized that I didn’t have to. That’s what the book is for. I will try to cover the more prominent points and then recommend the book if you are still interested in more information. Which will be likely. Something that popped out to me is the often association of tobacco smoke with male spirits. Now while what my sister smelled wasn’t smoke, it was still tobacco, which I find relevant. The range of smells attributed to the supernatural is wide and varying. Smells of flowers or perfume are often attributed to female spirits and the Blessed Virgin Mary which was said to smell “not spicy, not the smell of roses… but a very fine perfume.” And along the religious line, saints were said to exude pleasant fragrances. Heaven itself is said to have “an extraordinary perfume” which rises at all times.

 

It is important to note that a phantom smell is usually an element of a broader set of, what one site calls, “‘symptoms’ of a haunting”, while the sudden manifestation of a mysterious scent is usually taken to mean a presence from the great beyond. What you smell, as mentioned, can vary widely. Logically, any mysterious ‘bad’ smells, like rotten eggs, rancid meat and even feces are often associated with bad spirits or entities whilst pleasant aromas such as flowers, freshly baked goods and sweet perfumes are attributed to good spirits and entities. The odor of sulfur or brimstone traditionally has connotations of hell or demons. I will not go into the sulfur connection here and will once again direct you to The Brimstone Deceit for its conclusion. There are of course exceptions. As the author Joshua Cutchin notes, one of the few associations between floral scents and negative beings is the ‘kuntilanak’ (or ‘pontianak’) of Indonesia. This smelly spirit finds its roots in ancient Malay mythology which describes the kuntilanak as a horrifying female ghost. She is often said to be dressed entirely in white and can be linked to the lady in white mythos of which we have examined before, but for the purposes of this post, it is said that it “smells of flowers or strong perfume” and awaits its victims to drive by so that it can cover their eyes causing crashes so that it can feast on their blood. Charming… Likewise, the tobacco smoke that is often associated with male spirits has stories of not so nice entities. This makes sense since people that aren’t pleasant in life are probably not going to be in the afterlife regardless if they are smokers or not.

 

While tobacco smoke and floral perfumes seem to be the majority of the scents reported in the sensing of passed loved ones, other things associated with those who have passed often pop up in the reports as well. As with a specific perfume that was always worn by someone no longer with us, aftershave and cologne can be detected when an alleged spirit is present. Someone who loves to bake or cook can be associated with delicious smells from which there is no obvious source. In one forum I found the following description of what the poster believed to be his late father:

 

…and on two different occasions when I was really sad having a hard time I smelled beer, sweat, and marijuana, that was his smell…

 

So it’s obvious that “pleasant” is a relative term. It all depends on the observer and as with our other senses, odors can be interpreted differently between different people which can lead to a debate on what a smell is or if it’s even present. This fact alone can make it difficult when trying to investigate paranormal smells. While there are some instruments for detecting odors, sometimes called “electronic noses”, they are not cheap (over $2,200 USD) and aren’t always applicable for the smells in question. Gas and cigarette smoke are a couple scents that this particular device would aid in finding. Even if a smell was isolated to a particular room or location with no obvious source, it doesn’t really prove anything. But it is data. And data collection is an integral part of any investigation. Smells are interpreted in our brains so while there is possibility of misperception, although it isn’t very likely. If you would like to know more how the olfactory works, here is a link that can help you out. So to quote from Cutchin’s book one last time, actually quoting a quote from odor psychologist Trygg Engen saying on the sense of smell,

 

It’s actually better to think of this ability in terms of not forgetting [emphasis added] rather than remembering… While visual and auditory memories usually decrease with time, often exponentially in light of new experiences, odor memories remain intact.

 

Before I let you go, I would like to mention something called phantosmia, which is a medical condition that can be caused by a head injury, nasal or upper respiratory infection or nose polyps.  It can also be caused by, “temporal lobe seizures, inflamed sinuses, brain tumors and Parkinson’s disease” plus a variety of other things. It causes olfactory “hallucinations’ which can vary from individual but may be either foul, called cacosmia and is more common, often being described as “burned, foul, spoiled, or rotten”, or they can be pleasant. It can be sensed in one nostril or both and may be ever present or wavering. Indeed, there are many possible causes for this condition. One popular myth is that smelling burnt toast when there is none is a sign of a stroke or brain tumor, but according to Dr. Adam Simon, chief medical officer at PushDoctor.co.uk, this is simply not true.  Saying, “A stroke can affect any area of your brain, so it’s possible that your sense of smell can be affected, but there’s no particular smell that you need to worry about. You’re actually just as likely to smell nothing at all.” Either way, please consult your doctor if you experience the symptoms of phantosmia, so that your doctor can rule out any serious underlying disorders that may be causing the detected smell.

 

So I hope this was worth the wait. I again recommend reading Joshua Cutchin’s book even if you’re tired of hearing about supernatural scents, it’s worth it. How about you? Do you have any experiences with phantom smells with seemingly no source? I would love to hear about them as I’m sure the other readers would as well so leave them in the comments below if you are so inclined. Well that’s it for me Grimerica! Stay classy.

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My Dearest Grimericans. It pains me to have to type this out, but due what I can only describe as a “difference of opinion” with one of the Grimerican boys and also to unforeseen circumstances, this will be my last blog post on Grimerica. Whilst I wish I had the patience to let his argument slide, this disagreement in moral principal won’t allow for that kind of leeway. So with a heavy heart, I must say farewell. And before you, my massive fan base, starts sending me emails pleading for me to stay, I must insist that in doing so, while thoughtful, it would be futile. There is just no way that I can continue writing and working with a person who believes, well… I’ll just leave that alone. And for those of you who haven’t realized that this is published on April Fool’s Day, then now is a good time to tell you that you fell for my Fool’s Day prank, and while I’m at it, I might as well tell you the subject of this blog post:

 

Examining the Trickster Archetype/Mythos

 

 

 

You just can’t talk archetypes without bringing up our old buddy, Carl Jung. Jung’s theory of archetypes stems from his theory of the collective unconscious. The idea that the unconscious mind, at least part of it, is derived from the ancestral memory and experiences of all mankind. In this web of memories and instincts lay common patterns of mythical characters and motifs that all of humanity is unconsciously aware of. He argued that the collective unconscious can have deep and profound impact on individuals who can live out these patterns of archetypes. He also put forth that these memories could be the origin of men’s belief in reincarnation. Whether or not you believe that we all are connected through this proposed collective unconscious, it is hard to dismiss the similarities of the mythical characters that show up all over the world in many cultures and religions. The Great Mother, the Hero and of course, the Trickster, to name a few.

 

The Trickster archetype, as mentioned above, crosses many different cultures and religions. Folklore around the globe is riddled with different types of Trickster spirits, anthropomorphized animals, and gods and goddesses (Okay, maybe not too many goddesses). While these characters take on different forms depending on their region, the one thing that most have in common is their personality. It’s what makes the trickster a trickster. They are both admired and despised. Cast as thieves and liars and then held in reverence for their caliber and fortitude. They are the creators of elaborate, imaginative schemes that are skillfully executed and then by the same token, painted as a fool. They are forever the practical joker, and their pranks can be either malicious or benign. You never know if they are trying to impart wisdom or just trying to get a sick laugh. The Trickster itself can be duped and humbled, and then call attention to the folly of man. Indeed it would seem that for every admirable facet of their character, there is an equal and opposite one attached. Let’s explore a small selection of Tricksters from around the globe. I’ll try and keep it brief. I promise.

 

 

The Tales of Sang Kancil

Malaysia & Indonesia

 

Sang Kancil (pronounced: sung kahn-chill) is a clever mousedeer (a small, mostly herbivore ungulate that inhabits primarily South and Southeast Asia. Picture Bambi with stumpy legs, weird nose and solid black eyes). The collection of traditional folklore are popular children stories and are amongst the most famous folktales in the Malay and Javanese cultures of Malaysia and Indonesia. They tell of the sly mousedeer named Sang Kancil, outsmarting mightier creatures than it using it quick wit. This theme is popular in all Trickster analogs. As with most traditional folklore, these stories have been passed down orally from generation to generation so it is common to have multiple variations and names to stories. One such tale called “Kancil Steals a Cucumber” or “Kancil and the Farmer” relates the cunning mousedeer stealing cucumbers from a farmer’s garden. Successful in its attempt, the trickster makes fun of the scarecrow’s inability to keep the mousedeer away. In doing so, Kancil punches the scarecrow only to break through and get stuck in the glue the farmer used to make it. The farmer finds Sang Kancil and throws it in a cage. Later that night, the farmer’s dog comes to mock the mousedeer saying that it will be the morning’s breakfast. Using its wit, Sang Kancil remains unprovoked. This confuses the dog who then asks the mousedeer why it remains so calm. Sang Kancil replied that no breakfast would be made of him and that he was to wed the farmer’s daughter and become a prince. Adding that the dog got the raw end of the deal for all of his loyalties to its master. The dog begged the mousedeer to trade him spots so that he can become a prince, something that Sang Kancil obliged to. The next morning, all the farmer found in his cage was his own dog, happily wagging its tail.

 

 

Anansi the Spider

West Africa & the Caribbean

 

This itsy-bitsy spider is said to be the god/spirit/keeper of all knowledge and stories. The origin of the honor being bestowed is probably the most popular tale. There are a few variations but it goes something like this: The sky-god, Nyame had possession of all stories, leaving none in the world. Anansi sought out the Sky-God and asked for the price of the stories. Nyame gave the spider what he thought to be a high price to pay. For Anansi to buy the tales, he must bring the Sky-God Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, and the Mboro Hornets. Though his cunning and wit, Anansi easily brought back all three. Tying the Python to a palm branch to “measure it”, the leopard fell into a hole dug by the sly spider and then the trickster helped it out with the use of its webs, thus trapping the feline, and the hornets he trapped by producing fake rain and offering a hollowed out calabash plant as shelter, then closing the lid. Upon delivery of the three specimens, the Sky-God then named Anansi the GGod of all stories and from that day on, all stories are called Anansi Stories. You might recognize the character from a few comic books as well, appearing in both DC’s Justice League of America and Marvel’s The Amazing Spiderman.

 

 

The Coyote and the Raven

North American Natives Tibes

 

Popular characters in many different Native American tribes are the Tricksters Raven and Coyote. Although I don’t know of any tribes that regards them both as their main trickster players, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few. Something that these characters have in common, and indeed, most anthropomorphized tricksters, the two previous included, is their small stature, relatively weak physical strength and their extreme intelligence that they use to deceive perceived bigger, stronger characters. Whether it’s stealing the sun for mankind or freeing the buffalo on the Earth, these two Tricksters are important players in the cultures of Native peoples of North America. In Europe, the Fox is the Coyote’s counterpart, and sometimes instead of the Raven, it’s a Crow. Why are these creatures so common in Trickster tales? A French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, suggested a stucturalist theory that says the Coyote and Raven obtained their mass mythical status as a result of being seen as mediator animals between the living world and the next.

 

There! I told you I’d keep the examples short! I had to! There are so many Tricksters that permeate the cultures of the globe that to try and examine them all in a blog post would be next to impossible. Well, if I wanted to keep you reading, that is. But there are so many, many more! In some Greek tales, the one and only Hermes plays the trickster part. The now well-known Loki is the mischievous prankster in Norse mythology. And if you have kids then you are probably familiar with Trickster God Maui. In the movie Moana, he is a demi-god which I guess is fair because depending on the source, he is either a god or a mere human. One similarity I feel should be pointed out is that the Trickster often has the ability to shapeshift. Every trickster character mentioned has a story or ten of it changing shape to further its current goal. Maybe that is why this ability has been given to the trickster. To trick. If seeing is believing, than the Trickster has got one up one you.

 

In regards to the previously mentioned Greek God Hermes, I did notice a small relation with alchemy and the Trickster. I recently finished Joshua Cutchin’s amazingly well written and researched book, “The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas” and in the end chapters, he discusses the origins of Alchemy and Hermeticism. Hermeticism derives its name from Hermes Trismegistus, a kind of mixing between the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Both were the gods of magic and intelligence and in Hellenistic Egypt and back in Greece, they were generally seen as one god. What does this have to do with the Trickster? Well Hermeticism is synonymous with Alchemy and a fundamental concept of which is the Two Contraries. A principal where, for the alchemist, there are two primary ways of viewing reality. The rational, intellectual and scientific way and the instinctive, imaginative and nonlinear way. Two opposites that balance one whole. An idea that can be seen in the Taoist yin-yang symbol. This concept embodies the Trickster to a T. The paradoxical dichotomy of rational and irrational. Is there something to this thought? I don’t know. Just saying.

 

 

Now in a moment of synchronicity, I was typing out this post while simultaneously catching up on some back episodes of Mysterious Universe when what do the hosts, Ben and Arron start discussing? Rhetorical question. It was tricksters. They helped provide some insight that I had not previously thought of and will share some of that here. They were discussimg a book called, “Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment”. Yet another book to add to my list of “Must Reads”. They quote the author, Georg Feuerstein, saying:

 

From the conventional point of view, the crazy-wise teachers are eccentrics who use their eccentricity to communicate an alternative vision to the one that governs ordinary life. They are masters of inversion, proficient breakers of taboos, lovers of surprise, contradiction, and ambiguity. They share this skill and penchant with the figure of the trickster and the clown… He’s a being who is really clever but unprincipled, delighting in the irrational… There is an element of malice in many trickster spirts, though they are never entirely demonic… They are out to best their adversaries and spare no cunning to achieve their goal. As part of their duplicity, they often pretend to be stupid… The trickster knows no shame because he does not delineate between right and wrong.

 

So I think that is a good place to wrap it up. Again, the Trickster bench is deep and would be more of a book project rather than a blog to try and examine them all.  Maybe a part 2 is in order. Before I leave, I want to leave you with one with one more gem from Ben and Arron. It is a short tale of the Winnebago Trickster, Wakdjunkaga, moments after the creation, the Trickster scattered all creatures by means of an enormous flatulence. This same trickster keeps his penis in a box and is assumes a life of its own, and he also orders his anus to guard some geese he has just killed while he catches up on some sleep. Its anus’ alarm is, you guessed it, more flatulence. So there’s that… Sorry again if I gave you a panic attack with the thought of me leaving. I doubt it, but a guy can dream, can’t he? So which Grimerican did you think I had a tiff with? Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Leave comment below. Well that’s it for me Grimerica! Stay classy!

 

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Hello Grimericans! Here we are only two months into 2017 and I’m getting out a blog post! Whoo-Hoo! Looks like I might have just learned something after all my whole time traveling fiasco. But we’ll see how the rest of the year goes before claiming that victory. Anyways, in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t misspell the title. This post is about suspending one’s belief. Or more accurately, one’s overwhelming willingness to accept claims without doing the due diligence to verify said claims. Now this can be a complicated position to take although, it really shouldn’t be. If you partake in the “Fortean Community”, whether it be on the topic of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, relict hominins or ghosties and Ghoulies, you might find it hard at times to cast shadows of doubt on your fellow Forteans’ theories, stories and beliefs for fear of being called the “S” word. I would like to say that my inbox is inundated with accusations from my countless readers that even I am too skeptic to be writing a blog called “Fortean Mindset”. Truth be told, I have never once received an email from a reader.

 

 

 

 

That might actually be a blessing in disguise. Disregarding the lack of email accusations, I do from time to time get to interact with self-proclaimed skeptics and believers alike. More often, when touching on the subject of foteana, it is usually with someone who is just curious. In any case, the outcome is usually me being told by the other party that I’m more skeptic than what they would have thought. Personally, I take this as a compliment. I like being able to keep one foot on the ground while exploring the possibilities, and if in that exploration I find something that doesn’t make sense or makes perfect sense or moreover, makes me more curious, then at least I have that foot, or in some cases, a couple of toes, on the ground. When told that I am more skeptic or too skeptic, I always iterate that skepticism is a good thing. Hell; EVERYONE is a skeptic! Whether you question the stories of people seeing discs in the skies or Ape Men in the forests, or whether you question the explanations given to phenomenon; you’re still a skeptic. Much like the word “conspiracist” has been weaponized in mainstream culture to cast doubt on someone’s rational, the word “skeptic” has been weaponized in the Fortean community to cast doubt on someone’s willingness to be open minded. The two are collectively exhaustive and not mutually exclusive.

 

 

“Check out the big brain on Fortean Mind…”

 

 

Why the word “skeptic” has become weaponized, I think, is quite simple. People don’t like having their beliefs attacked. To borrow from Dogma, one of my favorite 90’s movies of all time.

 

I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it.

 

And people shun other people for it. Make others outcasts for it. Beliefs are a powerful thing. And in the framework of the Fortean community, its members are used to ridicule for their ideas, their beliefs. Ridicule can hurt and hurt people can lash out. This is why being skeptical can be a complex position to take. I am by no means claiming that all those who are “believers” hate or shun a skeptical voice. There are a lot of people whose views and ideas can be considered fringe who welcome a questioning eye. There are many who feel that getting down to the crux of whatever matter they are examining is the most important thing to achieve. But by the same token, there are many who are dug deep in their beliefs, whether it be Fortean phenomena or scientific Dogma.

 

 

Oh… He said it. Clever…”

 

 

So where does that leave us? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe one day, all of these questions will be answered and there will be no need for name calling, shunning and all together unpleasantness. Barring that, it’s up to all of us, self-proclaimed skeptics, believers and the curious alike to just be nice to each other and hear one another out. Someone having a different opinion than you isn’t the end of the world. I for one want to question EVERYTHING. That means the ufoligist’s theories about what people see in the skies as well as the official version of it just being swamp gas reflecting off of Venus. It might seem corny, by I want to be a truth seeker. You can’t seek something you think you’ve already found it. So yes, I might not quite believe that you can conjure ice spikes by thinking about it (yes, I’ve tried, many times, and to no avail) but that doesn’t mean I’m closed off to the idea that there might be something to it. Yes, I question the possibility of an interdimensional Sasquatch but that doesn’t mean I can discount how many loose ends that ties up. So if I meet you or happen to correspond with you and I seem a little too skeptical for your liking, please just know that I’m not trying to be cynical or snarky, I just have a need to question everything. Whether that’s questioning the reality of consciousness or the supposed haunted house at the edge of town. For me, being open-minded means being skeptical. I honestly would love to hear any thoughts of anyone who gave the time to read this has to say. Leave a comment below and let others know what you think. Spark a conversation. Who knows where it will lead. Well that’s it for me Grimericans, stay classy!

 

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Hello Grimericans! What can I say? It’s been a fun year for me. Not that you would know because as I noticed a few weeks ago, I have only published one single, solitary blog post this year! That is unacceptable to Darren, Graham, myself and of course all three of my regular readers (the latter parties excluded). And as 2016 is rapidly coming to a close, with only a few hours left before the proverbial and literal ball drops, I am frantically researching the topic of… I don’t know. I have so many ideas for posts, but all topics on my list would require more research than I have time for. Time for… Time… Time travel! I’ve got it! I will simply construct a device that will allow me to travel back into history and provide me with the adequate time needed to satisfactorily write a well laid, thought provoking article. Heck! Why stop at just one?! I can write a whole year’s worth of blog posts. Well that’s taken care of. I’ll just do that. No problem. Now if I remember correctly from a previous post I wrote on time travel, I’m going to need a safe word in case I run into myself and I need to warn past me of something… I would have to already have had to come up with it, that way, past-me would know it… Damn… this time travel stuff is confusing. Maybe I can afford a little time to research what could go wrong if I were to go back into the annals of 2016 and pop out a few posts. What am I saying? I have all the time in the world. Let’s see. The first thing I would have to worry about is obviously the…

 

 

The Butterfly Effect

 

Sweet, I love this movie! Amy Smart all the way! Am I right?! But now that I think about it, things didn’t go too well for good ol’ Aston in the end there; did it? Actually, I don’t remember. That movie had like four different alternative endings. I’m sure one of them had to be good. But okay, the butterfly effect. That’s the one that if you were to hypothetically travel back into time and accidentally (or purposefully, you demented bastard) kill a butterfly, then that seemingly little act can have a huge effects and a cascade of consequences that change history as the time traveler would have known it. If one were to dig more deeply into the subject, you would find that the butterfly effect is part of Chaos Theory which has its place in mathematics. Now since I have a tendency to write way more than I should and always fear that I lose readers halfway through my posts, I will not start talking about math. I will let the words of Edward Lorenz, who coined the term “butterfly effect” and was the driving force of developing chaos theory, summarized it as:

 

Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.

 

 

So I think what this is saying is that I need to avoid butterflies at all costs. Now, without hurting your head or mine (mostly mine), we’ll move on to:

 

 

The Grandfather Paradox

 

Probably the second best well known time travel paradox. It goes, for those of you who don’t know, if you were to travel back in time to kill your own grandfather, for whatever reason, let’s say you just didn’t like the cut of his jib, upon completion of this morbid deed, you would cease to have ever existed and therefore you couldn’t have traveled back in time and killed your grandfather for his smug attitude and thus, with you not killing him, you were eventually born and are able to travel back in time and kill your grandfather for his holier than thou demeanor, but in doing so, you again seal your nonexistent fate meaning… you see why this is a paradox, right? Now scientists love trying to come up with solutions to these paradoxes and some theoretical physicists have come up with a few ideas on how this situation could pan out. But we’ll get to those in due time. For now, I think for my purposes, all I need to take away from this is to stay away from my grandfather, who was a really nice man anyway and I assure you that there is no bone in my body that would wish that kind-hearted soul ill will, even if he did always cheat at cribbage. So now onto…

 

 

The Bootstrap Paradox

 

Another well-known time travel paradox, the bootstrap paradox gets its name from the old phrase, “to pull oneself up by their own bootstraps” which basically means to improves one’s own situation by one’s own efforts. It makes the mind conjure up rather odd imagery of trying to accomplish this impossible task. And although the origin of the saying is unknown, at least as far as my quick research determined, I’ve read that the term was popularized by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, either by or from his book “By His Bootstraps” (Full PDF here) As I am on a deadline, (at least until I figure out whether or not I should time travel) I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I am sure I will, given the time (LOL). As for the paradox itself, it goes something like this: Let’s say that in my quest to travel back into 2016 and try and get a whole year’s worth of articles out, to save even more time, I simply give my past-self all of the blog posts at once. My past-self then publishes them and claim they are of his own creation. Then, when past-me gets to the point on the timeline where current me is, he travels back in time to give his past-him the posts to publish. The paradox part is: where did the original information come from? Maybe that wasn’t the best example, I was just trying to tie it in with my current attempts to transverse time and space. The best example that I read went like this: “What if a time traveler went back in time and taught Einstein the theory of relativity before travelling back to his own time. Einstein claims it’s his own work, and over the following decades the theory is published countless times until a copy of it eventually ends up in the hands of the original time traveler who then takes it back to Einstein, begging the question ‘where did the theory originate’. We cannot say that it came from the time traveler as he learned it from Einstein, but we also cannot say that it is from Einstein, since he was taught it by the time traveler. Who, then, discovered the theory of relativity?” Yep. Try to wrap your mind around that. Maybe this whole, traveling back in time isn’t such a great idea. Especially with things like…

 

 

The Predestination Paradox

 

Well this one is disheartening to my current goals. It is also a popular one for movies. It basically goes that anyone who tries to travel back in time to change history will, by their actions, causes the event that they are trying to prevent to actually occur. The time traveler (me, in this case) would be forever entrapped in a “temporal causality loop” in which the event I’m trying to prevent (being lazy and not writing blogs for 2016) is actually caused by me traveling back in time trying to prevent it. Now there are a few “solutions” to this and the others but I’m starting to think those might have to be a post unto themselves. But for now, it would seem that this paradox says that, “the past is the past, man. Leave it alone.” Damn, I hate this paradox’s casual attitude! Ya know what? I think that I’m thinking too small with this blog post thing, if I’m going back in time, I might as well do it for the good of humanity, right?! I could prevent some horrible disasters, maybe even save some lives! Hell, I could kill Hitler! Except for, of course the…

 

 

Let’s Kill Hitler Paradox

 

Oh my god! I just can’t win, can I? I can’t even go back and prevent horrible events from occurring! Damn it! The “Let’s Kill Hitler Paradox” says that by traveling back in time and killing the führer, I would erase any reason for me to go back in time in the first place. Everything that Hitler did wouldn’t have happened and would have changed the world, and one of those changes would be not giving me a reason to travel back and put one in his little mustache wearing skull. So if there is no reason to go back, then I don’t, and if I don’t go back, then I couldn’t kill him, that would mean that all of the horrible things he did happend and there is a reason to go back, and if there is a reason to go back, then I do go back and I kill him and… UGH! I’m starting to think this isn’t worth it. Is there any way that I can go back and not cause some mind f*#king effect? Nope, because of the…

 

 

Timeline Corruption Hypothesis

 

Well this one pretty much seals it and dashes my dreams of a 2016 full of awesome blog posts. The timeline corruption hypothesis states that any time travel will result in unavoidable changes to history. I liken it to the observer effect where a subject (in this case, the past) will alter its behavior by being observed. Anything I would do in the past, including the mere act of observing it, would change it. And that’s not a risk that I, for one, am willing to take. I guess all I can do now is throw away this useless time machine and simply make a conservative effort to my future posts here in Grimerica. Who knows what would have happened if I went back in time. Hell, Trump could have won the presidency. Lol. Like that would have ever happened. Well, maybe I’ll just take a peek…

 

 

“Great Scott!”

OH SHIT! Sorry America! I promise I won’t do that again. I didn’t even give myself the posts I had. I guess it was predestined for me not to put those out in 2016. I’ll guess they’ll just have to wait until next year. Seriously though America, sorry. Well I guess there’s nothing left for me to say except that that’s it for me Grimerica. Have a happy New Year and don’t forget to stay classy!

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Hello Grimericans! I have a confession to make. And while it doesn’t really pain me to admit it, this truth about me and my way of thinking has the power to cast doubt on my person; as a person. A logical thinking one, anyway. It is the way I approach anecdotal stories in relation to “paranormal” events. I love them. I thrive off of them if I’m being honest. Nothing keeps me more interested in the strange, weird and otherworldly than the stories of the people who have claimed to have witnessed them. Now the skeptic in me, and in many of you, obviously find this way of thinking as a conflict of interest when one is trying to put their logical, “good” skeptic foot forward. But how harmful is it to indulge in the anecdotes of the supernatural and the like? If one keeps their little ‘s’ skeptic cap on whilst remaining open-minded when this data is learned, then isn’t that how the scientific method is supposed to be approached? With one foot in skepticism and one in the unknown? Moreover, is anecdotal data really worthless? By the way, for the sake of brevity, I will refer to it as anecdotal data as opposed to the more commonly used anecdotal evidence. Because that is really what it is: data, after all. As I’ve pointed out before, the word evidence denotes that the burden of proof is lifted. If that was the case, then it wouldn’t be anecdotal. Not to get too tied up in semantics, but like I said, for the sake of brevity. So let’s strap in and examine some anecdotal data at its best.

 

 

handing-in-my-skeptics-card

Whoa, whoa… Hold on a second…

 

 

Now I know most of you are probably critically thinking, skeptically minded individuals who won’t just accept any story without solid proof, or at least strong data, to at least cast a shadow of possibility on someone’s claims. And given the nature of anecdotes and what some “big S Skeptics” might rightfully point out that most anecdotal evidence is cherry-picked, you might not want to read what this article is about. I mean, the title of this post is “Anecdotal Evidence at [it’s] Best”. But before you hand in that skeptic card, please remember the importance of anecdotal data in regards to science. Hell, the importance of it in everyday life. Humans have ALWAYS used anecdotal data as a starting point to a clear answer. Sometimes it takes longer than other times and more than likely, not everyone will agree with the result. I’m not saying that EVERY important discovery was the result of some chestnut of personal experience or observation, but a lot have. Things like…

 

Bioelectricity and the Battery

Eighteenth century biologist, physicist and physician Luigi Galvani was dissecting a frog on a table that was previously used for experiments with static electricity. To his surprise, he noticed that when he touched a brass hook that held the frog’s leg with his metal scalpel that had acquired a charge, the muscle contracted and probably made him jump (Galvani, not the frog). This made him raise an eyebrow (and probably change his pants) and he investigated further. He then reported that he believed he had discovered what he called animal electricity. He thought it was a life force within the muscles of the animal. A contemporary of his, Allesandro Volta, was able to reproduce Galvani’s results but remained skeptical of his explanation. He proposed the resulting contraction what due to the contact of the two metals and external electricity and the frog’s muscle was only a detector or the small differences of the external source. To try to prove this, he invented the first true battery, known as the Voltaic Pile, to aide in the experimentation to disprove Galvani’s claims. So, if you’re reading this on a mobile device, that battery that powers it is one of the side results of what started out as anecdotal evidence… just saying. While Galvani was eventually proven wrong, it was his raised eyebrow that started humans down the path of what is now known as electrochemistry. The Voltaic Pile also led to accelerated discoveries such as the electrical decomposition of h2o into hydrogen and oxygen, as well as the isolation of the seven chemical elements including calcium, potassium and magnesium by Humphry Davy. Volta was such a nice guy, he still named that process of electricity produced by a chemical reaction after Galvini, galvanism.

 

 

The Microwave Oven

One day in 1945, American born engineer Percy Spencer was building magnetrons for Raytheon and was standing in front of a live radar set when he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had melted. After getting over the loss of his mid-day snack, he began a mission to figure out was caused the premature end of his favorite munchies and vowed revenge. Okay, the revenge might be a little exaggerated. Just making sure you’re still paying attention. And while he wasn’t the first to notice the effects of microwaves on food, he was the first to investigate further. The result of that investigation being the microwave oven and all of your favorite, “no time to cook a real meal’ meals that you’ve come to love. Percy Spencer, you’re my hero..

 

WC burger

*Wipes drool*

 

 

Evolution

Yep. Evolution. It was the anecdotal observations of Charles Darwin that led him down the path of discovery of one of the greatest revelations in history. I think everyone is well versed on this topic that I don’t have to cover it in detail. But I would be remise if I didn’t mention that when Darwin first published his theory in his book “On the Origin of Species” he was met with overwhelming rejection from the scientific community. Evolution not good enough for ya’? How about…

 

Freakin’ Gravity

Okay, this is an anecdotal story of an anecdotal story. A young Sir Issac Newton was resting under an apple tree when the winds of fate blew an apple down and struck the young genius on his crown. It was this event that made Newton ponder and conceive the idea of gravity. Or some variation of that story. The tale has long been called apocryphal. Fortunately, a manuscript by William Stukeley that would later go on to become a biography on the apple catching scientist, was found hidden away in the archives of the London’s Royal Society. The story about the apple was relayed to Stukeley by Newton himself and it follows as such:

“After dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank thea, under the shade of some apple trees…he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself…”

 

 

So the apple story was true. Well, mostly. The point is, anecdotal data sparks the imagination and can start the process of inquiry. Imagine where we’d be as a culture if we never acted on those inspirations. And while I do think it’s important to remain skeptical, I also believe it’s just as important to imagine. I think some forget that latter part. Here is a link to an article that I found very useful and insightful about the importance of anecdotal data. They provide a huge selection of links from Wikipedia that shows historical examples of serendipity that show the importance of anecdotal data. In case you don’t want to click the linky-link, I took the time to copy and paste them below. I will provide a quote from the article for those who feel like this post was long enough and don’t feel like reading any more:

“The most important statement a scientist can make is, ‘Huh, that doesn’t make sense. That shouldn’t have happened.'”

Well that’s it for me Grimericans. Stay classy.

 

 

Chemistry 

  • The German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz having a reverie of Ourobouros, a snake forming a circle, leading to his solution of the closed chemical structure of cyclic compounds, such as benzene.
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (or LSD) by Albert Hofmann, who found this potent hallucinogen while trying to find medically useful derivatives in ergot, a fungus growing on wheat.
  • Gelignite by Alfred Nobel, when he accidentally mixed collodium (gun cotton) withnitroglycerin
  • Polymethylene by Hans von Pechmann, who prepared it by accident in 1898 while heatingdiazomethane
  • Low density polyethylene by Eric Fawcett and Reginald Gibson at the ICI works in Northwich, England. It was the first industrially practical polyethylene synthesis and was discovered (again by accident) in 1933
  • Silly Putty by James Wright, on the way to solving another problem: finding a rubber substitute for the United States during World War II.
  • Chemical synthesis of urea, by Friedrich Woehler. He was attempting to produce ammonium cyanate by mixing potassium cyanate and ammonium chloride and got urea, the first organic chemical to be synthesised, often called the ‘Last Nail’ of the coffin of the Élan vitalTheory
  • Pittacal, the first synthetic dyestuff, by Carl Ludwig Reichenbach. The dark blue dye appeared on wooden posts painted with creosote to drive away dogs who urinated on them.
  • Mauve, the first aniline dye, by William Henry Perkin. At the age of 18, he was attempting to create artificial quinine. An unexpected residue caught his eye, which turned out to be the first aniline dye—specifically, mauveine, sometimes called aniline purple.
  • Racemization, by Louis Pasteur. While investigating the properties of sodium ammonium tartrate he was able to separate for the first time the two optical isomers of the salt. His luck was twofold: it is the only racemate salt to have this property, and the room temperature that day was slightly below the point of separation.
  • Teflon, by Roy J. Plunkett, who was trying to develop a new gas for refrigeration and got a slick substance instead, which was used first for lubrication of machine parts
  • Cyanoacrylate-based Superglue (a.k.a. Krazy Glue) was accidentally twice discovered by Dr.Harry Coover, first when he was developing a clear plastic for gunsights and later, when he was trying to develop a heat-resistant polymer for jet canopies.
  • Scotchgard, is a 3M brand of products used to protect fabricfurniture, and carpets fromstains, was discovered accidentally in 1953 by Patsy Sherman. One of the compounds she was investigating as a rubber material that wouldn’t deteriorate when in contact with aircraft fuel spilled onto a tennis shoe and would not wash out; she then considered the spill as a protectant against spills.
  • Cellophane, a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose, was developed in 1908 by Swiss chemist Jacques Brandenberger, as a material for covering stain-proof tablecloth.
  • The chemical element helium. British chemist William Ramsay isolated helium while looking for argon but, after separating nitrogen and oxygen from the gas liberated by sulfuric acid, noticed a bright-yellow spectral line that matched the D3 line observed in the spectrum of theSun.
  • The chemical element Iodine was discovered by Bernard Courtois in 1811, when he was trying to remove residues with strong acid from the bottom of his saltpeter production plant which used seaweed ashes as a prime material.
  • Polycarbonates, a kind of clear hard plastic
  • The synthetic polymer celluloid was discovered by British chemist and metallurgist Alexander Parkes in 1856, after observing that a solid residue remained after evaporation of the solventfrom photographic collodion. Celluloid can be described as the first plastic used for making solid objects (the first ones being billiard balls, substituting for expensive ivory).
  • Rayon, the first synthetic silk, was discovered by French chemist Hilaire de Chardonnet, an assistant to Louis Pasteur. He spilled a bottle of collodion and found later that he could draw thin strands from the evaporated viscous liquid.
  • The possibility of synthesizing indigo, a natural dye extracted from a plant with the same name, was discovered by a chemist named Sapper who was heating coal tar when he accidentally broke a thermometer whose mercury content acted as a catalyst to producephthalic anhydride, which could readily be converted into indigo.
  • The dye monastral blue was discovered in 1928 in Scotland, when chemist A. G. Dandridgeheated a mixture of chemicals at high temperature in a sealed iron container. The iron of the container reacted with the mixture, producing some pigments called phthalocyanines. By substituting copper for iron he produced an even better pigment called ‘monastral blue’, which became the basis for many new coloring materials for paintslacquers and printing inks.
  • Acesulfame, an artificial sweetener, was discovered accidentally in 1967 by Karl Claus atHoechst AG.
  • Another sweetener, cyclamate, was discovered by graduate student Michael Sveda, when he smoked a cigarette accidentally contaminated with a compound he had recently synthesized.
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet) was accidentally discovered by G.D. Searle & Company chemist James M. Schlatter, who was trying to develop a test for an anti-ulcer drug.
  • Saccharin was accidentally discovered during research on coal tar derivatives.
  • Saran (plastic) was discovered when Ralph Wiley had trouble washing beakers used in development of a dry cleaning product. It was soon used to make plastic wrap.
  • A new blue pigment with almost perfect properties was discovered accidentally by scientists at Oregon State University after heating manganese oxide.[8]

 

 

Pharmacology

  • Penicillin by Alexander Fleming. He failed to disinfect cultures of bacteria when leaving for his vacations, only to find them contaminated with Penicillium molds, which killed the bacteria. However, he had previously done extensive research into antibacterial substances.
  • The psychedelic effects of LSD by Albert Hofmann. A chemist, he unintentionally absorbed a small amount of it upon investigating its properties, and had the first acid trip in history, while cycling to his home in Switzerland; this is commemorated among LSD users annually as Bicycle Day.
  • 5-fluorouracil’s therapeutic action on actinic keratosis, was initially investigated for its anti-cancer actions
  • Minoxidil‘s action on baldness; originally it was an oral agent for treating hypertension. It was observed that bald patients treated with it grew hair too.
  • Viagra (sildenafil citrate), an anti-impotence drug. It was initially studied for use inhypertension and angina pectoris. Phase I clinical trials under the direction of Ian Osterlohsuggested that the drug had little effect on angina, but that it could induce marked penileerections.
  • Retin-A anti-wrinkle action. It was a vitamin A derivative first used for treating acne. The accidental result in some older people was a reduction of wrinkles on the face
  • The libido-enhancing effect of l-dopa, a drug used for treating Parkinson’s disease. Older patients in a sanatorium had their long-lost interest in sex suddenly revived.
  • The first anti-psychotic drug, chlorpromazine, was discovered by French pharmacologistHenri Laborit. He wanted to add an anti-histaminic to a pharmacological combination to prevent surgical shock and noticed that patients treated with it were unusually calm before the operation.
  • The anti-cancer drug cisplatin was discovered by Barnett Rosenberg. He wanted to explore what he thought was an inhibitory effect of an electric field on the growth of bacteria. It was rather due to an electrolysis product of the platinum electrode he was using.
  • The anesthetic nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Initially well known for inducing altered behavior (hilarity), its properties were discovered when British chemist Humphry Davytested the gas on himself and some of his friends, and soon realised that nitrous oxide considerably dulled the sensation of pain, even if the inhaler was still semi-conscious.
  • Mustine – a derivative of mustard gas (a chemical weapon), used for the treatment of some forms of cancer. In 1943, physicians noted that the white cell counts of US soldiers, accidentally exposed when a cache of mustard gas shells were bombed in BariItaly, decreased, and mustard gas was investigated as a therapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Prontosil, an antibiotic of the sulfa group was an azo dye. German chemists at Bayer had the wrong idea that selective chemical stains of bacteria would show specific antibacterial activity. Prontosil had it, but in fact it was due to another substance metabolised from it in the body, sulfanilimide.

 

 

Medicine and biology

 

 

Physics and astronomy

  • The quite possibly apocryphal story of Archimedes‘ prototypical cry of Eureka when he realised in the bathtub that a body’s displacement water allowed him to measure the weight-to-volume ratio of any irregularly shaped body, such as a gold crown.
  • Isaac Newton‘s famed apple falling from a tree, supposedly leading to his musings about the nature of gravitation.
  • Discovery of the planet Uranus by William Herschel. Herschel was looking for comets, and initially identified Uranus as a comet until he noticed the circularity of its orbit and its distance and suggested that it was a planet, the first one discovered since antiquity.
  • Infrared radiation, again by William Herschel, while investigating the temperature differences between different colors of visible light by dispersing sunlight into a spectrumusing a glass prism. He put thermometers into the different visible colors where he expected a temperature increase, and one as a control to measure the ambient temperature in the dark region beyond the red end of the spectrum. The thermometer beyond the red unexpectedly showed a higher temperature than the others, showing that there was non-visible radiation beyond the red end of the visible spectrum.
  • The thermoelectric effect was discovered accidentally by Estonian physicist Thomas Seebeck in 1821, who found that a voltage developed between the two ends of a metal bar when it was submitted to a difference of temperature.
  • Electromagnetism, by Hans Christian Ørsted. While he was setting up his materials for a lecture, he noticed a compass needle deflecting from magnetic north when the electric current from the battery he was using was switched on and off.
  • Radioactivity, by Henri Becquerel. While trying to investigate phosphorescent materials using photographic plates, he stumbled upon uranium.
  • X rays, by Wilhelm Roentgen. Interested in investigating cathodic ray tubes, he noted that some fluorescent papers in his lab were illuminated at a distance although his apparatus had an opaque cover
  • S. N. Bose discovered Bose-Einstein statistics when a mathematical error surprisingly explained anomalous data.
  • The first demonstration of wave–particle duality during the Davisson–Germer experimentat Bell Labs after a leak in the vacuum system and attempts to recover from it unknowingly altered the crystal structure of the nickel target and led to the accidental experimental confirmation of the de Broglie hypothesis. Davisson went on to share the 1937 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery.
  • Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, by Arno A. Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson. What they thought was excess thermal noise in their antenna at Bell Labs was due to the CMBR.
  • Cosmic gamma-ray bursts were discovered in the late 1960s by the US Vela satellites, which were built to detect nuclear tests in the Soviet Union
  • The rings of Uranus were discovered by astronomers James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink on March 10, 1977. They planned to use the occultation of the star SAO 158687 by Uranus to study the planet’s atmosphere, but found that the star disappeared briefly from view five times both before and after it was eclipsed by the planet. They deduced that a system of narrow rings was present.[9]
  • Pluto‘s moon Charon was discovered by US astronomer James Christy in 1978. He was going to discard what he thought was a defective photographic plate of Pluto, when his Star Scanmachine broke down. While it was being repaired he had time to study the plate again and discovered others in the archives with the same “defect” (a bulge in the planet’s image which was actually a large moon).
  • High-temperature superconductivity was discovered serendipitously by physicists Johannes Georg Bednorz and Karl Alexander Müller, ironically when they were searching for a material that would be a perfect electrical insulator (nonconducting). They won the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics.
  • Metallic hydrogen was found accidentally in March 1996 by a group of scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, after a 60-year search.
  • A new method to create black silicon was developed in the lab of Eric Mazur.

 

 

Inventions

  • Discovery of the principle behind inkjet printers by a Canon engineer. After putting his hotsoldering iron by accident on his pen, ink was ejected from the pen’s point a few moments later.
  • Vulcanization of rubber, by Charles Goodyear. He accidentally left a piece of rubber mixture with sulfur on a hot plate, and produced vulcanized rubber
  • Safety glass, by French scientist Edouard Benedictus. In 1903 he accidentally knocked a glass flask to the floor and observed that the broken pieces were held together by a liquid plasticthat had evaporated and formed a thin film inside the flask.
  • Corn flakes and wheat flakes (Wheaties) were accidentally discovered by the Kelloggs brothers in 1898, when they left cooked wheat unattended for a day and tried to roll the mass, obtaining a flaky material instead of a sheet.
  • The microwave oven was invented by Percy Spencer while testing a magnetron for radar sets at Raytheon, he noticed that a peanut candy bar in his pocket had melted when exposed to radar waves.
  • Pyroceram (used to make Corningware, among other things) was invented by S. Donald Stookey, a chemist working for the Corning company, who noticed crystallization in an improperly cooled batch of tinted glass.
  • The Slinky was invented by US Navy engineer Richard T. James after he accidentally knocked a torsion spring off his work table and observed its unique motion.
  • Arthur Fry happened to attend a 3M college’s seminar on a new “low-tack” adhesive and, wanting to anchor his bookmarks in his hymnal at church, went on to invent Post-It Notes.
  • The chocolate chip cookie was invented through serendipity. Chocolate chip cookies were invented by Ruth Wakefield when she attempted to make chocolate drop cookies. She did not have the required chocolate so she broke up a candy bar and placed the chunks into the cookie mix. These chunks later morphed into what is now known as chocolate chip cookies.

 

 

 

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Electronic Voice Phenomenon. EVP’s. The supposed captured, disembodied voices of the passed-on. The audible recording of the deceased. The dead. Much like how with the advent of the camera ushered in the advent of ghost photography, shortly after Edison’s phonograph, came the claims of capturing ghostly voices. So before we go any further, let’s establish what exactly the EVP hypothesis is. To make this as simple as possible, an EVP is an intentional or unintentional sound recorded on analog or electronic devices that are interpreted as those belonging to the dead or from the past. I include “from the past” because in some EVPs, other ambient noises that are deemed relevant to the particular situation or question asked, can be heard sometimes in congruence with or in absence of a “voice”. Sounds like water where there isn’t a source near or the sounds of battle and cannon fire when there is none. So let’s go over a very brief history of recorded, supposed discarnate noise.

 

EVP_waveform

It’s either saying, “In the beginning of the history of EVPs…” or “Windmill.” It’s hard to say…

 

EVPs are part of a broader claimed phenomena known as Instrumental Trans-Communication, or ITC. This includes communication with the dead through radio, computers, video camera, telephone, television and as mentioned above, photography. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in the late 1800’s and it is often sited that he was working on a device that would make it easier to communicate with deceased persons. Some skeptics will say that his claim of working on a device to communicate with the passed-on is misinterpreted and exaggerated, and in fact all he said was that such device “could” be made and that he was never actually actively working on one. This is most likely attributed to an interview Mr. Edison gave with Scientific American (which is available for a price on PDF here) in which he said:

 

it is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication.

 

But what most people who say that Edison was working on such a device are referring to an interview he gave to American Magazine titled “Edison Working On Way to Communicate With the Next World” in which he said:

 

If the apparatus I am now constructing should provide a channel for the inflow of knowledge from the unknown world – a form of existence different from that of this life – we may be brought an important step nearer the fountainhead of all knowledge, nearer the intelligence which directs all.

 

He then added:

 

But, mind you, I am not promising results. All I promise is that I will make it easier than it has ever been heretofore for personalities who have ‘passed on’ to communicate with us, if they are so circumstanced that they can or want to communicate with us.

 

So Edison aside, another prominent person of interest in the research of EVPs is one Konstantīns Raudive. So prominent was Raudive’s work that EVPs are sometimes referred to as Raudive voices. Raudive was a parapsychologist who, after reading Friedrich Jürgenson’s book Voices from Space, became greatly interested in the phenomena. Jürgenson himself, is often regarded as “the father of EVP” and is credited for discovering the phenomena. Raudive’s disembodied voice has said to make contact from beyond the grave as well via phone call.

 

There have been devices created that are supposed to help in spirit communication via EVP. The Frank’s Box or Ghost box is a device that supposedly allow spirits to splice radio signals to produce answers to questions given. Another nifty piece of technology doesn’t necessarily allow for communication to passed on humans but it actually determines if what is recorded IS a human voice. Praat is one such software. This link will take you to the site where you can download the free software and read the manuals of its function. Most of which is beyond my understanding. But those of you so inclinded…

 

So what are we to make of these claims of communication from the next plane of existence? There are many explanations for how these sounds can make it to audio tape or electronic devices. Cross modulation is one of these reasons. It is basically interference with radio or TV signals that can leave audio imprints on magnetic tape. It can also leave imprints on electronic recordings. While most believers of this phenomena will argue that the recordings in question are done in a solitary space and that the answers given are relevant to questions asked, it could be argued that given the hypothetical state of a spirit, that one could simply place a blank tape on a table without a recording device and ask questions and relevant responses should be given. But despite this perceived relevance of the question or circumstance, cross modulation happens. In an episode of Ecto-Radio, hosted by the founding members of the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association, the two host recall an instance where they were investigating the infamous Boothill Cemetery in Tombstone, AZ. Now the SGHA is a smart bunch and have an intricate knowledge of Tombstone’s history and were well aware that there probably wasn’t anybody buried at a gravestone that claimed that the person buried there had been hung, so you can imagine their surprise when they played back their recording to find a “response” saying. “If you’re going to hang a man, you better look at him.” After the initial excitement wore off, they realized that what had been recorded sounded very familiar. In fact, it was a line spoken by Clint Eastwood in the movie “Hang ‘Em High” which was being aired at the time in question. Like I said, SGHA is a smart bunch and they quickly realized this as nothing more but irony.

 

Another explanation given for these sounds is audible pareidolia, which is basically the brain looking for patterns. Other explanations include audio artifacts, meteor showers which the tails of meteors can reflect and distort radio waves, and hoaxes. One thing that I found interesting about EVPs are that most are indecipherable until someone tells you what they think its saying. Then the message becomes very clear. I will keep this post short since it was meant as another Halloween blog that is coming out a day late. But who says spookiness is designated for October alone? I will leave you that in my opinion, and this is just the opinion of a Fortean blogger, there is not enough scientific data to suggest that what is being recorded on devices is anything more than pareidolia. And this opinion is coming from someone who would indulge in such evidence of life after death. But the proof just isn’t in the pudding. I will also leave you, my audience with some EVPs that I either found chilling or convincing, just not convincing enough. Like the saying goes, keep an open mind but not so open your brain falls out. That’s it for me. Stay classy Grimerica.

 

Bonus! As a bit of tongue-in-cheek, here is a list of the 8 Best EVPs Anyone Has Ever SEEN!

 

As a little experiment, I won’t include what these EVPs are supposedly saying. Leave what you think they say in the comments. Try not to read the comments to see what others have written until you’ve listened to them yourself. Headphones are highly recommended. Enjoy!

 

 

EVP #1

EVP #2

EVP #3

EVP #4  Called “The Most Horrific EVP ever recorded” 10:52 long.

EVP #5 My vote for “The Most Horrific EVP ever recorded” from Art Bell’s Coast to Coast. Skip to 3:53 for the EVP. Then you can listen to the story after you’ve made your guess.

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Hello Grimericans! I know the title of this post probably caught your attention. My original title was going to be, “The Vampire Watermelons of Gypsy Lore!” but it being October and all, I thought pumpkins was a better choice and ‘Romani’ is more P.C. than gypsy. In fact, I hope that me using the word hasn’t offended any of my readers. But back to the subject at hand: Vampire pumpkins and yes, watermelons. I’m not just making this up for a catchy title. I’m not positive if these beliefs still hold sway in the Roma culture today, but they certainly did at one point. Now the Romani culture is steeped in supernatural lore and superstitions that both give and take from the many surrounding cultures that they cohabitate with. But the lore I am going to cover in this post is focused out of the Balkans including vampire legend from Romania, Hungary and Slavic lands. This area has a large array of supernatural beliefs and superstitions. Many of those which include death, dying and the dead, and yes… the undead.

 

Researching this topic, one thing became very clear to me. Just about ANYTHING can either be a sign of or the cause of someone becoming a blood sucker. People who were particularly horrid looking could be a vampire. Those who were missing fingers or had appendages similar to those of an animal such as a tail were considered vampires. As with most cultures, there was a set of rituals that were to be performed after the death of a person and the neglect of these rituals could cause someone to become a vampire. Such as not burning the deceased possessions and keeping them or giving them away instead could cause the dead to rise. People who had a violent death, committed suicide or death resulting from an accident could cause the fangy transformation. Those who went astray from or were excommunicated from the church could be a vampire.  Children conceived on certain days or out of wedlock could become a vamp in the afterlife. Children born with teeth were believed to become vampires after death. Female vampires were believed to be able to return to their normal lives and basically exhaust their husband to death, much like the succubus of lore. Those who passed before being baptized were also condemned. Now with so many ways of becoming the undead, it’s not a huge surprise that other living creatures such as horses, sheep, snakes and even man’s best friend could join the ranks of the damned. There are even ways of inanimate objects can gain a lust for blood. Things like leaving a latch unlatched for too long can result in the latch developing a thirst for the red life force. If, for instance, your name is Darren Grimes and live in Alberta, Canada, and you give me a synchro score less than a seven, you will most definitely become a vampire. Certain agricultural tools such as the wooden rods used for binding sheaves of wheat. “… if such a rod, used for tying up a sheath by making a knotted loop on its narrower end and thrusting the other end through it, remains undone for three years, becomes a vampire.” So it’s not really a stretch to think that a belief that things like plants can gain this unholy thirst.

 

 

Four Loko Watermelon 3

No, no… The OTHER unholy thirst…

 

When I first came across this lore, it seems to only be referenced by one source in scholarship. One source that is quoted over and over. And whilst I would love to not repeat it here, it being the only source, I would be remiss if I didn’t include it here. It is from the Journal of Gypsy Lore Society and is written by Tatomir Vukanović, who was, from what I could ascertain from the ONLY source that I could find on the interwebs, the always reliable Wikipedia (I did find a few others but they all seemed to be copied and pasted from Wikipedia), a Serbian born “prominent historian and ethnologist of the Balkans region of south-eastern Europe” who focused primarily on “the history, folklore and culture of the Serb and Roma (Gypsy) inhabitants of Yugoslavia in general and the southern province of Kosovo in particular.” In all references about the entry into the Journal of Gypsy Lore Society, which was a four part piece and can be found here, they were said to be written several years after his journeys through Serbia, which I would find odd since he was born there. But before I go off on a tangent, here is what is written:

 

The belief in vampires of plant origin occurs among Gs. [Gypsies] who belong to the Mosl. faith in KM [Kosovo-Metohija]. According to them there are only two plants which are regarded as likely to turn into vampires: pumpkins of every kind and water-melons. And the change takes place when they are ‘fighting one another.’ In Podrima and Prizrenski Podgor they consider this transformation occurs if these ground fruit have been kept for more than ten days: then the gathered pumpkins stir all by themselves and make a sound like ‘brrrl, brrrl, brrrl!’ and begin to shake themselves. It is also believed that sometimes a trace of blood can be seen on the pumpkin, and the Gs. then say it has become a vampire. These pumpkins and melons go round the houses, stables, and rooms at night, all by themselves, and do harm to people. But it is thought that they cannot do great damage to folk, so people are not very afraid of this kind of vampire. Among the Mosl. Gs. in the village of Pirani (also in Podrima) it is believed that if pumpkins are kept after Christmas they turn into vampires, while the Lešani Gs. think that this phenomenon occurs if a pumpkin used as a syphon, when ripe and dry, stays unopened for three years. Vampires of ground fruit origin are believed to have the same shape and appearance as the original plant.

 

Another cause for the change, I found, is if a melon is kept after Christmas for x number of days. And while these vampires aren’t as ferocious as some, it’s still supernatural none the less. It’s important to understand that a “vampire” wasn’t considered what we see in movies and books today. A vampire was an evil spirit that would take up residence in a body or object and therefore wasn’t the subject in question before being commandeered. In this context, it is kind of easy to see how these unholy invaders would try to take up space anywhere that was available, and that includes plants. And considering the rampant view of these transient evil spirts, it probably wouldn’t have taken much for this belief to arise. The aforementioned “trace of blood” from Vukanović’s excerpt, is naturally discoloration that happens, as it would seem, when the fruit of vegetables would become too ripe. But try as I might, I couldn’t find what causes them specifically.

 

 

Vampire_watermelon_closeup

Apparently the only picture on the internet of this occurrence.

 

 

So have you read enough to convince you to keep a more wary eye on your fruits and vegetables? Myself, personally, I would throw a pumpkin and a watermelon in the ring together and start an underground edible Fight Club. Or sell the little boogers as pets. I think there’s real potential in the idea and a sound business opportunity; but I digest. What are your thoughts about vampire food? Hell, what are your thoughts on inanimate object vampires?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. That’s it for me Grimerica. Stay classy.

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