The Trials and Tribulations in the Life of Lois Duncan

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Featured Horror Books Women in Horror

We’re starting off July with a bang—and honoring one of Horror’s great women writers! Although she was best known for her work in young-adult novels, she is considered a pioneering figure in the development of the genre, specializing in the sub-genres of horror, thriller, and suspense. Lois Duncan, an author that throughout her life dealt with innumerable travesties and tragic turmoil that most of us only have nightmares about was a figure to be reckoned with. Despite all of the trials that Duncan faced during her lifetime, she somehow made it through as a celebrated author of young adult fiction and horror.

The Early Years of Lois Duncan

Born Lois Duncan Steinmetz on April 28, 1934, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Lois Duncan and Joseph Janney Steinmetz—she grew up with one younger brother, and parents who were professional photographers who worked for magazines taking pictures for the Ringling Brothers and the Barnum & Bailey Circus, as well as publications such as Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Time, as well as Town & Country. Growing up with photographers for parents, found her as the focus of their work on regular occasions, including when she appeared on the cover of Collier’s magazine in 1949.

Duncan knew at an early age that she wanted to be a writer and ended up submitting her first story to a magazine at the age of ten. When she was thirteen, ger first acceptance letter came, she had finally made her first sale to a magazine called Calling All Girls; this early accomplishment for Duncan inspired and motivated the young writer to continue on with her passion. To quote Duncan herself, “[she] could hardly wait to rush home from school each day to fling [herself] at the typewriter.” After spending much of her early years in Pennsylvania, she relocated to Sarasota, Florida later in her childhood where she spent her time amongst circus performers which influenced her picture books that she would write later in her career

A self-described “shy, fat little girl,” as well as a “bookworm and dreamer,” Duncan dreamed of being a writer for a living throughout found herself at home as a child playing in the woods. It makes sense that she, like most writers, would feel some type of insignificance during childhood and end up using it to fuel her passions throughout her life. She would graduate from the Sarasota High School in 1952 then enroll at Duke University that same year before she ended up dropping out in 1953 when she started a family with, Joseph Cardozo, a fellow student at the university.

A Full Career

Magazine Publications

After getting her first magazine publication at the age of thirteen, and dropping out of Duke University during the early, she continued to write and publish articles in magazines—eventually publishing over three hundred such articles in a variety of different magazines. In 1958, she ended up writing an incredibly successful short story in Seventeen magazine, titled Love Song for Joyce under the pen name of Lois Kerry—she nearly didn’t win the contest it was meant for because an underage boy was drinking a beer and it was considered inappropriate. When Seventeen asked her to change it to a Coke, she obliged and took home a thousand dollar prize. This helped her to secure her first young adult writing contract, from which she produced Debutante Hill in 1959.

After divorcing her first husband, Duncan moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1962 with her children and supported herself and her children by writing greeting cards and fictional confessionals for pulp magazines. Four years after relocating she published the novel Ransom, for which she earned herself the Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, which also marked her transition from romance fiction to more suspense-oriented works.

Teaching Work

During the early 1970s, Duncan was hired to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico, which she later confessed was a mistake on the part of the person who hired her—having been a friend—having overlooked the fact that she did not have a degree when she was chosen as a replacement, due to her extensive experience writing for magazines. To remedy the situation, Duncan earned her B.A. degree in English in 1977 while simultaneously teaching journalism.

Suspense and Horror Novels

Duncan had a personal interest in supernatural and speculative fiction, which inspired her to write a variety of suspense and horror novels that were aimed for teenagers, some of which were adapted for the big screen. In 1978, her novel Summer of Fear was adapted to film by Wes Craven, but her most famous example, by far, was the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer, which was adapted from her 1973 novel of the same name. It’s possible that much of the slasher horror craze was derived from Duncan’s novels, wherein she broke major ground by creating novels that didn’t capitalize on sex, drugs, and the bad-boy image of its characters, but more so on the ability of teenagers to be nasty and twist anything to justify their own means.

After the death of her youngest daughter in 1989 Duncan only wrote one more horror novel, titled Gallows Hill in 1997—since her daughter’s death marked a complete shift in her writing. In 1992 she penned a non-fiction account that detailed her daughter’s unsolved murder titled Who Killed My Daughter? but otherwise stuck to less dark material. Due to the own impact it had on her life, Duncan also founded a research center that was designed to help investigated cold cases, it would eventually evolve into a nonprofit Resource Center for Victims of Violent Deaths—this was in an effort to help anyone who had to deal with the trauma that she herself went through.

The Death of Her Daughter

July 16, 1989 marked a terrible day in the life of Lois Duncan—her eighteen-year-old daughter Kaitlyn Arquette was driving her car in Albuquerque, New Mexico was shot twice in the head. She was the victim of a drive-by shooting and she died the next day without ever waking up. The police investigation that ensued concluded that the death of Kaitlyn was the result of her being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Three men ended up being charged in the case of her death, but the charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Duncan was never satisfied with the result of her daughter’s case—she ended up investigating on her own and discovered that her daughter’s boyfriend was involved in an insurance scam. She believed that her daughter had somehow uncovered the scam and ended up being the target of someone who had been involved—not necessarily by her daughter’s boyfriend, but by one of his associates—with someone who didn’t want her daughter to blow the whistle on their organized criminal activity.

The police stopped investigating the death of Kaitlyn and the crime was never solved, but in 1992 she finally published Who Killed My Daughter? She confessed that it was the most difficult book that she ever had to write, but being that it was a non-fiction book and about her own daughter’s murder, it’s no mystery as to why it would have been. Kaitlyn’s family continued to pursue the investigation of her death and new information continued to surface long after the case was closed. The case and subsequent book were regularly featured, with the hopes that it would help improve the situation, on shows like Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Unsolved Mysteries, Inside Edition, and Sally Jessy Raphael. Lois and her husband Don Arquette created an maintained the Real Crimes website in order to help other families who were experiencing similar situations. Lois would interview families of homicide victims whose cases were believed to have been improperly handled by law enforcement and Don would back any allegations to actual documentation that was released to the public, such as police reports, autopsy records, as well as crime scene photographs.

At the End…

Duncan passed away on June 15, 2016, as the result of a stroke and left behind a small army of devastated fans and people whose lives she had touched. Lois was survived by her husband Don Arquette, her four remaining children and six grandchildren.

The Urban Legend of Frenchtown Road – Central, Louisiana

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

By: Ezekiel Kincaid

Railroad tracks Frenchtown road

The Tetromet Chronicles is one of my forthcoming books from Stitched Smile Publications. It is a collection of shorts which center around an evil entity called the Tetromet. The stories were inspired by an urban legend I grew up with. In this article, I am going to share with you the portion of my book which talks about this urban legend and how it has influenced these stories and me as a horror author. I hope you enjoy.

For most writers, myself included, stories begin with one simple idea or moment of inspiration. Then they evolve into a grand universe. My Tetromet stories are no different. I grew up in the small town of Central, Louisiana, which is on the outskirts of Baton Rouge. I am also one of those privileged folks who got to grow up in the best decade ever–the 1980’s. What made this decade so fascinating in the world of horror was the obsession with urban legends and Satanism.

As a kid who was raised in church, I remember this well. I heard people go on and on about the dangers of 80’s rock ‘n roll (Anyone out there remember the documentary Hell’s Bells? No? Okay, never mind). I’m not here to bash church or rock ‘n roll, because both have played positive influences in my life. My point is, the topics of Satanism and Satanic cults were all the buzz in the 80’s.

I can’t help but remember a radio show my mom used to let me and my brother listen to after she picked us up from school. The name of it was “Talk Back” and Bob Larson was the host. He would debate Satanists and cast demons out of people right there on the radio show. I remember one show with clarity. A Satanic cult abducted the daughter of one of its members and planned on sacrificing her to the devil on Halloween. Yes, I know, trope, trope, trope, and more trope.. Since then, Bob has been proved a fake, but as a young kid it sure seemed real to me! I even went and saw him in person when he came to a church in Baton Rouge during the late 80s! I’m not questioning the sincerity or reality of Bob Larson’s faith, I’m just pressing the point about Satanism being the buzzword in the 80’s.. It was in the movies, on the radio, in the music, and talked about in churches and barber shops. Such bombardment couldn’t help but have an influence on my mind as a horror writer.

Now, back to the urban legends…

In Central, there’s a haunted road. It goes by the name Frenchtown and was known for its ferocious curves. Toward the end of the wooded road, it opened up a little, and ahead of you would appear a bridge. This bridge was a once functional railroad trestle. The foreboding, rusty structure would glare down at you, covered in satanic graffiti. Near this bridge was where most of the paranormal activity had been reported. But it’s not just about the bridge. Rumors of a Satanic cult in the woods near the bridge, along with a witch who lived in the last house on the left (yes, Wes Craven would be proud) are the prominent legends which once swirled around this trestle. It was said that if you crossed under the bridge, the cult members would kidnap you and drag you back to their lair. In the forest behind the bridge was where the rituals took place. Some have even reported seeing dead cats hanging from underneath the trestle.

With new construction, and the addition of a BREC park, Frenchtown road has changed somewhat, but still retains its curvy, wood laden scenery. During the height of Satanic rumors, graffiti not only tattooed the bridge, but the road before the bridge. People recall such words as “Go back now” and other symbols from Satanism and witchcraft being spray painted on the road. Having been out there myself in the 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000’s, I can attest that this part of the legend is true. Town folks also said there used to be “Welcome to the Gates of Hell” spray painted across the side of the bridge. The road was indeed marked, and as you can see from the pictures below, so was the bridge. Over the years, well-meaning people have spray painted over most of the markings in an attempt to exercise the place of its demons. If you go today, you can still catch a glimpse of these symbols when you view the bridge up close.

Check out the pictures I took below:

Road under railroad tracks
Railroad support beam

On this beam you can make out “Portel [SIC] to hell”. “Portel” is written diagonally, and “to hell” vertically.

satan graffiti written on railway support

“Satan”

death graffiti on railway support

This is the side of the trestle where it used to read “Welcome to the Gates of Hell” You can still make out he word “OF” to the right and also a faint “H”.

abandoned road

Now, let’s move on to the good stuff, shall we? I want to talk about the types of paranormal phenomenon and strange encounters people have reported happening at the end of Frenchtown Road. My personal favorite is the one about the school bus getting hit by the train which used to run across the bridge when the tracks were operational. Don’t ask me how in the world a school bus got up there–its urban legend so facts and physical improbabilities don’t matter! I’m just telling the story. So yeah, a school bus got hit by a train and killed all the kids. If you turn your car lights off under the bridge for a few seconds, then flip them back on, bloody hand prints are supposed to appear on the windshield.

In continuing with the theme of vehicles, the most reported phenomenon was if you turned your vehicle off under the bridge, it wouldn’t start again. One person relayed to me the story of how he and a few of his buddies took some girls out to the bridge one night in the early 90’s. They wanted to give them a good scare, so they told the story about turning off the car engine and it not cranking again. They killed the engine. When the guy tried to start his car, the engine wouldn’t turn! The dudes panicked, in a macho way of course, without letting the girls see the fear in their eyes. After fifteen minutes of unadulterated terror, a bright light appeared in the distance. It was a spotlight, and it was headed toward them at a rapid pace. The angst in their heart escalated as the phenomenon continued. As the light grew closer, they realized it was just a hunter coming to help them. He had heard them trying to start the car.

Another man also told a similar “no start” story. His took place in the late 80’s. Instead of the bridge, he had the nerve to pull his car into the witch’s driveway. After killing the engine, he went to start the car and back out, but the engine wouldn’t crank! Still another person reported their car dying, and then someone coming out of the woods and burying an axe into it. I could go on with multiple accounts similar to these, but you get the idea.

Other reports include people seeing dead chickens hanging in the woods near the bridge, owls flying into windshields, dead cows, upside down crosses with burn marks in the field, stones in the shape of a pentagram under the bridge with burnt animals in them (I witnessed this myself), and car radios flashing 666. I’ve also heard from several people who said they have been chased away by vehicles, a crazy cat lady, and a creepy bald guy in a trench coat.

In my research, I’ve discovered Frenchtown Road has had reports of all types of different phenomenon and urban legends associated with it besides devil worship and cars that won’t start. Below is a detailed list of what I found through conversations, social media posts, and local articles.

  1. People laying on the bridge smoking weed. They hear something banging on the bridge piling below them. They go down to check it out and nothing is there.
  2. A man hung himself from a tree. People have reported seeing his ghost.
  3. Many reports of people hearing chanting coming from the field and woods.
  4. People seeing “watchers” staring at them on either side of the road.
  5. Another legend was about a man who murdered people and dismembered them. The body parts were found buried in the woods at the end of Frenchtown road.
  6. Reports of seeing people involved in casting spells, performing rituals, reading Satanic bibles, and carrying black crosses.
  7. Legend of a little girl who was run over by a train on the railroad trestle. Now, whenever a train comes, you can hear her scream.
  8. One person swears they got pushed into a huge hole that wasn’t there a few minutes earlier.
  9. A group of friends reported that they were all standing in the field, when one of their cars, which was off and locked, started flashing its lights.
  10. Some groups that have gone out there reported hearing the train, the screams of the little girl, and seeing the train lights… but no train would ever come.
  11. Demonic animals have also been spotted. One was said to have yellow eyes, boney, distorted skin, and was growling.
  12. There is a noticeable change in the air when you get close to the track. It cools off (I’ve experienced this one myself).
  13. At the last house on the left, red lights flash in the window.
  14. Lights in the woods have supposedly chased after people.
  15. Dead body found in the water.
  16. One person reported something jumping in the back of a truck. The passengers turned around to look and nothing was there.
  17. Radio goes off when getting to bridge, then comes back on when leaving.

As one can see, there are quite a number of reported eerie happenings. However, the most popular was of a Satanic cult and witch. This is the theme I went with in my Tetromet shorts. If you will bear with me a moment longer, I want to tell you a little bit about the Tetromet series.

First, it’s more than just stories about a Satanic cult at the end of Frenchtown Road. The stories span a time frame of around 200 years, and each one is different. Some are atmospheric, some are gritty, and others are twisted. They are listed in chronological order, but there are major gaps in the storylines of each. Why? Because just about every one of these stories will be developed into a novel, so don’t expect answers right away nor all the pieces to fit. This is not the point of the collection. The point is to introduce you, the reader, to the main characters of the series and the driving story lines. When the books come out, all the dots will be connected, I promise.

I hope you have enjoyed this little piece of history. I can’t wait to get this book in the hands of my readers!

About Author Ezekiel Kincaid

Twitter: @EzekielKincaid
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ezekethefreak/
Website: https://ezekielkincaid.wordpress.com/
Books and other anthologies
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=ezekiel+kinciad&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
Free reading can be found on Stitched Smile’s WordPress site
https://stitchedsmilepublications.wordpress.com/
And Horror Bound
https://www.horrorbound.net/?author=5de80c37c09a8973f9c333cf

The Urban Legend of Skinned Tom

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Featured Haunted Places

If there’s anything we’ve learned from pop culture, it’s that getting caught cheating never ends well. You can end up losing your career, family, inheritance, and – in the case of Skinned Tom – even your life. This urban legend from Walland, Tennessee has it all for the average horror enthusiast: blood, sex, vengeance, and a cautionary tale for young people to not go looking for trouble. But how did Tom go from an attractive ladies man to a terrifying body horror urban legend who has supposedly haunted Lover’s Lane for decades? Here’s what the stories say.

The Legend of Skinned Tom

Map of Walland Texas Location

Decades ago in Walland, Tennessee, a young man named Tom was living the dream. He was handsome, funny, and smart…and the ladies noticed. He slowly began to womanize everybody in town, and yet, as with most playboys, he was never content. He would spend a bit of time with a woman before breaking up with her and moving on to the next, but everything changed when he met a gorgeous woman from the next town over. Some tales of Skinned Tom called her Eleanor. She was basically his dream girl, except for one unfortunate fact: she was already married. Tom didn’t mind, and he got a rush from sneaking around with a married woman trying not to get caught. He even pulled it off for a while, as they would kiss in Tom’s car near Lover’s Lane and do what all secret lovers do. That is, until Eleanor’s husband tracked them down and got the ultimate revenge on Tom for making him a cuckold. 

The legends say that Eleanor’s husband dragged Tom out of the car and skinned him alive with a hunting knife at the sight of his smug face. Gory? Yes. Deserved? Debatable. Tom had begged the angry man not to hurt him, swearing that he had no idea that Eleanor was married (a complete lie) and that he would never go near her again. But her husband saw right through Tom’s phony antics and got the ultimate vengeance on the man who had wronged him.

The Legend of Eleanor

As for Eleanor, there are different versions of what happened to her. Some urban legends say that her husband had killed her with the hunting knife right before he skinned Tom, albeit in a much less gruesome way. Others say that he had kept her alive on purpose, forcing her to watch as her lover was brutally murdered and tortured right before her eyes. That’s definitely something that would scar you for life, right? The part of the story that doesn’t change, however, is Tom’s brutal end…and how he now makes it his mission in death to prevent others from making the same mistakes he did in life. 

According to many urban legends told around the campfire in Tennessee, the ghost of Tom still hangs out around Lover’s Lane to teach young adults a lesson or two about adultery. He is described as a bloody skeleton who still holds the very same hunting knife that was used to remove the skin from his body, and will scare away anybody who tries to make out in the Tennessee countryside. Cheating is a painful act that hurts everybody involved, a lesson that Tom had to learn the hard way, and you’ll definitely stop smooching a married lady once a bloody, knife-wielding skeleton comes your way.

Skinned Tom’s song:

“Have you see the ghost of Skinned Tom?

Bloody red bones with the skin all gone

Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on.”

Sources

https://aminoapps.com/c/paranormal/page/blog/skinned-tom-from-tennessee/bNbl_zeDfouBEk3vNDGRMln1BDNmvqwGXN1

https://americanupbeat.com/the-most-haunting-urban-legends-from-every-us-state/24

The Utterly Wicked Truths About “Dark” Magic

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Lifestyle

The occult, by definition, boils down to an involvement in the supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, phenomena. In the sixteenth century, the term occult sciences was used to refer to astrology, alchemy, and natural magic. In the nineteenth century, occultism emerged in France and began to be associated with various esoteric groups therein connected to Éliphas Lévi and Papus, then in 1875, it was introduced into the English language by esotericist, Helena Blavatsky. During the twentieth century, the term was used to describe a wide range of different authors and their particular eccentricities—finally, during the twenty-first century, it is commonly used to describe a certain esotericism and the several different categories that it encompasses, including but not limited to spiritualism, theosophy, anthroposophy, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and New Age practices. Then again, to be fair, the occult has been used since the twentieth century to also reference a more broad category of supernatural, including the beliefs in vampires, fairies, UFOs, and parapsychology.

When it comes down to it though, what is most often thought of when the occult is considered? The occult is this unknowable magical thing that is mostly considered to have a nasty nature about it—but that’s not always the case, while the occult in the broadest sense it can be more than just witchcraft and esoteric cults; far be it for this witch to say what every other practitioner of the esoteric arts does in their own craft, I can only speak from my own experience.

What is Dark Magic?

There is a misconception about dark magic–even those that practice magic may believe that dark magic, some people refer to it as “black” magic, is always a malevolent thing–this isn’t even remotely true, although there are two sides to that coin. There are many practitioners of dark magic who don’t even appreciate the connotation that what they practice is inherently negative or malevolent at all. Here we refer to it as dark magic because it is the most recognizable way to refer to this type of magical practice, so what we really mean when we are discussing dark magic is any type of magic that is not regarding the free will, emotional, mental, or physical state of the recipient. Now you might be thinking that those parameters automatically make this magic negative or malevolent, but love spells, legal justice spells, and so much more fall under this umbrella, as it benefits the caster, but not necessarily the target. Curses, hexes, jinxes, and other negative forms of magic may also be–as an example, cursing an addict to no longer be able to stand the thought of drug use–that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, now is it? In this writer’s opinion, dark magic can be anything that the practitioner casts that they use an excess of emotion–something that mentally, emotionally, and physically drains them of any existing energy that they may possess.

This is especially true of curses, hexes, and other unsavory forms of magic … It has … to do with the emotion that fuels them: that raw, untamed emotion goes way beyond peel-me-off-the-ceiling anger and can only be termed as livid pissed. And livid pissed is exactly what we are by the time we get around to even consider such things. The old adage of adding fat to the fire doesn’t even begin to cover it when fueling magic with this sort of emotion. In fact, it’s more like adding a hefty dose of jet fuel to a hearth fire. There’s going to be more than a minor flare-up. There’s going to be an explosion to end all explosions. And anyone who thinks that a simple [magical] shield is going to deflect that sort of energy definitely has another thing coming.

Dorothy Morrison, Utterly Wicked: Hexes, Curses, and Other Unsavory Notions

Fallacies of Dark Magic

Dark Magic Practices
Photography by Eduardo Cano

Dark Magic, or as it is more often (and inappropriately) referred to as “black magic,” is not at all what it seems to be. There is an argument that there is no “color” in magic, but even within the practice, there are references to different colors of magic–black, grey, white, green, etc. ad nauseam. To be honest, if you’ve been a part of the witchcraft community for almost two decades, you’d find the use of color within magic as a tad bit pretentious. Those who practice the darker aspects of magic tend to refer to it as baneful magic–it’s honest and unpretentious and it says exactly what it means.

Whatever you’ve experienced, be cautious before you utter: someone cursed me! I cannot honestly tell you how many times I have heard this uttered from someone who was down on their luck–to be completely honest it is the most unlikely reason for someone having bad luck, sometimes bad things just happen. While it may be possible that a witch is pissed off enough to have cursed you, more often than not the best curse is someone’s conscience–that’s not a curse, it’s just your own ethical code telling you to take a look at what you’re doing to other people or, more likely, yourself.

Recount the related problems you’ve experienced to the present, and try to pinpoint the time they began … Then look for any semblance of reason for their occurrence … give some serious thought to what led you to … the conclusion that a hex had been tossed your way … look for reasonable explanations … Because if you can find plausible reasons for any of the … trials and tribulations connected to the time period, it could be that a curse may not be the culprit at all … It’s quite possible that you, yourself, are at fault.

Dorothy Morrison, Utterly Wicked: Hexes, Curses, and Other Unsavory Notions

Are you sure that I haven’t been cursed? Yes, we’re pretty sure, and mostly because this author has personally cursed someone before–cursing, crossing, or hexing someone is definitely not as easy as it seems. It takes energy that is derived from our personal emotional, mental, and physical reserves. Most of the time, even if we’re really angry at someone, we realize that the nasty person that we’re angry at isn’t worth the time and energy it takes to do any dark work. If you’re an awful person though, we might take the time and sacrifice the energy, but that’s a personal choice.

… Cursing someone takes an inordinate amount of energy. Your energy. Energy that you’ve stored for other things, like the simple business of everyday living. And cursing someone effectively is going to wipe out all your reserves. But even if that weren’t the case, it’s important to remember that you’re going to be transferring that energy to the person on the other end of your magic. So, there’s a good chance that you’re inadvertently going to pick up some of that person’s energy along the way too. Do you really want that nasty stuff on you? Probably not.

Dorothy Morrison, Utterly Wicked: Hexes, Curses, and Other Unsavory Notions

Another thing I have heard in my time of practicing witchcraft is that blood magic is evil magic. That is absolutely not true–blood magic is just more powerful and potent magic. If a witch is practicing blood magic that usually means they know what they’re doing. If we’re using our own blood it means it is going to affect us personally, if we’re using someone else’s blood it means that they are going to be personally affected.

You Can’t Get Cursed if You Don’t Believe is probably the most laughable thing I have ever heard in my life–because if it were true there wouldn’t be any instances of curses at all. If you found out that someone was cursing you and you decided that you just didn’t believe, it would be quite ineffective, right? Truly, if you don’t believe it curses, it actually is more effective to let the person know in some way that they have been cursed. There is nothing more effective than using someone’s imagination against them.

Dark Magic Among the Different Practices

There are so many different religions and secular occult practices that have darker leanings–while not all of the practitioners utilize the darker aspects of these religions or occult practices, they are still there and they are still very legitimate practices.

Voodoo, Hoodoo, Rootwork, Conjure, Appalachian Folk Magic, & Santeria

These are four different titles for some very similar practices–Voodoo, is perhaps the exception among the bunch, as it is based within a religious practice and the occult practices that are utilized are done so within the context of that religion. Hoodoo, rootwork, and folk magic are unique in the fact that they are not necessarily tied into a religion but can be practiced by anyone and everyone–so long as they have the proper knowledge to utilize the techniques that are a learned aspect of these decades-old traditions that are typically passed down through familial lines. While many of these occult practices exist solely in the southern United States, such as Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, etc.–there are also the folk magic practices that are known as Appalachian folk magic which occur throughout the Appalachian Mountains.

Voodoo, Vodou, and Vodun are the variations upon the spelling of the same practice–it really just depends upon where the religion is practiced. It’s a religion that practices a sort of folk magic, but differing from other types of folk magic, it is entirely tied into the Christian or Catholic faiths. Voodoo also ties in African folk magic, however, by adding in the veneration of spirits or loa. If you’re looking for a movie that most accurately depicts voodoo, even if it is a bit campy and over-the-top, take a moment to watch The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988). You’ll get the feel of voodoo without having to delve too deeply into it. If you’re looking to get revenge on someone, while we certainly don’t recommend jumping into something as complex as Voodoo and getting in over your head, crossing is what you’re after when it comes to the Voodoo religion. It usually utilizes personal objects or bodily fluids–that’s an entirely different topic on its own.

If you’re looking to make someone bend completely to your will, you’re probably thinking of Haitian zombification. Zombies are some of the darker aspects of the Voodoo religion–as a whole, the religion doesn’t typically approve of zombification, you can learn more about the practice in one of our older articles.

Voodoo Dolls and Doll Babies are always portrayed in a negative light in Voodoo, but that’s not entirely undeserved, it’s definitely not as alluring to think about making a voodoo doll out of love for someone. When we think of voodoo dolls we immediately think of that idealization of acting out your anger and frustrations out on your target. We definitely believe that they are worth investigating more thoroughly before anyone might utilize such a technique for revenge.

Within Hoodoo, Conjure, Rootwork, & Appalachian Folk Magic you’ll find a lot of diversity, but a surprising amount of similarities considering the different terms to refer to this type of practice. This practice is generally considered separate from any religious practice, but isn’t exempt from including it either. Hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork are primarily practiced in the Southern United States, as well as the Caribbean and some other regions. Appalachian Folk Magic is quite similar to the hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork practices, but this particular folk magic practice only naturally occurs in the Appalachian Mountains.

The religion of Santeria is quite complex–the beliefs are more difficult to follow because a lot of the details of the practice are hidden to those who are not inducted into the religion. It has a poor reputation due to the newspaper articles that deteriorate the image of Santeria as a whole.

Satanism and Daemonolatry

Satanism is one of the most misunderstood occult practices, but it is also an umbrella term that encompasses quite a few different practices and religions. The witchcraft that follows along with the different practices of Satanism are not at all like what they show in the movies, in fact, the practices are generally a surprisingly vanilla expression of magical practice.

Daemonolatry is more of a practice that is considered separate from satanic practices–it is a less religious practice and can be compared to hoodoo the same way that satanism can be compared to voodoo.

Witch giving sacrifice
Photography by Halanna Halila

Traditional Witchcraft

You don’t have to be any of the above mentioned practitioners in order to practice baneful magic–you can be of pretty much any magical background (except for, possibly, Wicca) and practice magic that is aimed to harm another person.

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The White House Hauntings

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Featured Haunted Places

Every American knows about the White House and the role that it plays within our country and our government, also known as the Presidential Mansion, it is arguably one of the most iconic buildings in the entire nation. Surprisingly, despite its status within the nation, there are a great many people who are unaware of just how haunted the building and its grounds are. Considering the record of eye-witness accounts and what we would assume is their reliability, we found out just how much paranormal history this monument to American democracy has actually seen.

Spooky Misty White House

A Timeline of the Paranormal

White House History gives us a timeline for the account of lost souls and hauntings that this particular symbol of America and to be quite frank, there has been a lot of action surrounding the White House; after all, politics can divide families and close friends, they can incite rage and violent behavior, and they can even threaten the very security of the nation itself.

The War of 1812: The Unnamed British Soldier

There are still regular reports being made of an unnamed British Soldier who roams the White House grounds while holding a torch–it is said that his soldier perished upon the grounds during the War of 1812.

United States President Abraham Lincoln

United States President Abraham Lincoln

1860-1870’s The Death of Willie Lincoln

Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln had four sons, only one of whom–Robert Todd–survived to see adulthood; their son Edward passed away at the tender age of four and Willie, who fell ill during his father’s first presidential term, died of a fever. While grieving over her son Willie’s death, Mary Todd began to delve into her spiritual interests and started holding spirit circles and seances in the Red Room of the White House. During the height of the Civil War, spiritualistic practices became quite popular, due to so many families seeking comfort from the loss of their loved ones. At the behest of his wife, Abraham attended two of the sessions, but was not entirely satisfied with the results, and could be found weeping at Willie’s crypt for hours. The Lincoln’s third son, Tad, passed away at age eighteen after his father’s assassination. Their third son died after Abraham had already been assassinated. To this day, it is claimed that Abraham’s ghost still appears in the Lincoln Bedroom and the Yellow Oval Room. Some notable witnesses to his apparition were First Lady Grace Coolidge, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as well as Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands. As far as Willie? Well, the last time Willie’s spirit was witnessed was in the 1870s by the administration of the White House.

During the 1860’s Mary Todd Lincoln would reportedly hear the ghost of Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing, while he is otherwise said to be hanging out in his bed in the Queens Bedroom laughing heartily.

During Andrew Johnson’s presidency, he was reportedly visited multiple times by Anna Surratt who was there to beg for a pardon on her mother’s behalf, her mother was Mary Surratt, a conspirator for Lincoln’s assassination. Years after her death, her ghost can still be witnessed banging on the doors of the White House in desperation for a pardon for her mother.

1901-1904: Jeremiah Jerry Smith

Smith began working at the White House during the late 1860s during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, his career lasted around 35 years before he retired. His accounts of the ghosts of Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, and several of the first ladies were always a media go-to on slow news days.

1911: The Thing

An apparition that terrified the Taft administration and domestic staff in 1911, was one of an unidentified fifteen-year-old boy; even Major Archibald Butt, the military aid to President Taft acknowledged the ghost, saying it was, “a young boy about fourteen or fifteen years old … they say that the first knowledge one has of the presence of the Thing is a slight pressure on the shoulder, as if someone were leaning over your shoulder to see what you might be doing.” It was after this point that President Taft ordered Butt to make the White House staff aware that they would be fired if they ever repeated stories about the Thing.

Modern Sightings

These days the random apparition is still experienced by White House Staff and administration, though some administrations may be less forthcoming about these sightings. Thomas Jefferson, for example, is seen and heard playing his violin in the Yellow Oval Room, while Dolley Madison is said to protect the Rose Garden. John Tyler haunts the Blue Room where he proposed to Julia Gardner, his second wife. William Henry Harrison, the first president to die in the White House, haunts the attic and the smell of wet laundry and lavender are observed in the East Room where Abigail Adams hung laundry. David Burnes, the original owner of the land on which the Presidential Mansion now stands can be both seen and heard in the Yellow Oval Room.