Seven Gates of Hell Urban Legend

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

You’ve heard of the Nine Circles of Hell and Johnny Depp was in a movie about Nine Gates of Hell in The Ninth Gate. But it turns out the number seven also has its place in supernatural significance. The Seven Gates of Hell is an urban legend with two different versions, but both are located in York County, Pennsylvania and both versions lead you straight to hell.

Regardless of which version of the lore you have heard they both end the same way. There are Seven Gates, only one of which is visible during the day. At night the other six gates appear. If you pass through all seven gates you will be taken directly to hell.

It is rumored that no one has ever made it passed the fifth gate and returned to tell about it.

York County PA

York County, Pennsylvania has some serious historic moments. It was there in 1777 that Americans adopted the Articles of Confederation, officially forming the United States of America. This town is now both a historic location visited by history buffs worldwide and also by paranormal investigators looking for one of America’s other firsts…a portal to hell. Notably, this urban legend has also attracted some cults due to its connection to the underworld. It is in this historic and quaint town, somewhere deep in the woods, that seven gates might appear and lead you straight down…down…down…

V1 of the Seven Gates of Hell Legend – The Insane Asylum

possibly the 1st gate of the 7 gates of hell

In this version there was a mental institution for the criminally insane that was located on Toad Road, or Trout Run Road, in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania. Trout Run Road appears to be the only mapped road to date. We can’t rule out local’s names for roads as this dates back to the 1900’s. So maybe there was a Toad Road.

The Asylum, as they were back in those days, was erected in a remote location so that the townsfolk would not be exposed to the insanity within. As it is with many horror stories, a fire broke out. This remote location proved difficult for help to arrive in a timely fashion, so multiple inmates and staff died in the flames.

In the Asylum version of the Seven Gates of Hell, the gates were built by the local search parties to trap the remaining patients. The search party was reported to have beaten to death escaped inmates they found and the gates were simply another way to trap and kill the unwanted.

It remains unclear why the search party created gates to hell to capture the inmates but assuming they did that is as good a way as any to rid your town of the criminally insane.

V2 of The Seven Gates of Hell Legend – The Physician

Some tourists have labeled this under-passing as one of the 7 gates to hell

In the Physician version of the story, the gates were built by a physician in the early 1900’s. This physician was known to be eccentric, although there are versions where he is labeled as psychotic as well, and it was he who owned the property and the one gate known to exist. In the Physician version the gates lead ever deeper into the woods as they progress. His motivations are unknown but the mystery has become local lore for over 100 years now.

The Seven Gates of Hell in York County, Pennsylvania has shown up in several books as well as a horror film from 2013 titled Toad Road.

Toad Road horror movie poster

Rereferences

Shaman’s Portal of Beaver Dunes Park

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Oklahoma has been a human settling spot for millenia, since sometime in the interglacial Holocene epoch over 11,000 years ago. Before becoming a part of the United States in 1803 (due to the Louisiana purchase) it was explored by the Spanish and claimed by the French. Eventually it became Native American territory until 1888, wherein it was opened up to legal settlement by other American citizens. The word “Oklahoma” comes from a blend of Choctaw language meaning “red people,” which was a blanket term used to describe Native American tribes. 

Oklahoma is no stranger to myths and urban legends, from The Friendly Ghost of the Stone Lion Inn, to the Tulsa Hex House and The Haunted Chalkboard of Bird Creek School, though none are as infamous and deterring from its more rural spots than the mysterious Shaman’s Portal of Beaver Dunes Park. 

Beaver Dunes Park

Oklahoma greeting card

Located in Oklahoma’s panhandle region on US Hwy 270 in Beaver, Oklahoma, Beaver Dunes Park sits on what is lovingly referred to as “No-Man’s Land” or “The Neutral Strip,” which encompasses over 300 miles of Oklahoma’s extreme northwestern region. Drenched in the paranormal, the dunes have been home to enough human disappearances, secret military excavations, and “Men in Black” sightings to earn it the title “Oklahoma’s Bermuda Triangle”. 

Shaman’s Portal

Coronado with native americans

It all began in the 1500s with the Spanish explorer Coronado. When Coronado’s men vanished mysteriously from the dunes in a blast of strange, green light, he described the phenomenon in his diary as “the work of the devil”. That’s not to say he wasn’t forewarned, however. Native American guides who had aided him so far in his journey warned Coronado and his men not to wander into the Dunes. They said it was an evil place, though Cornoado’s lust for New World gold spurred him on. It appears the guides were not far wrong. 

“The Shaman’s Portal” title was coined by these very natives, and the place has been suspected of a string of disappearances from that fateful expedition to this very day. As time went on, less and less of these disappearances have been verified, and none in fact proven to have any connection to the alleged portal, though the combination of history and superstition here is enough to deter many from straying too far in. Some locals report that they have encountered military excavation sites under the cover of darkness. Dr. Mark Thatcher, an Oklahoma State University archaeologist, spent three years in the nineties studying the area before suited individuals with military credentials shut his operation down.

So is the area a portal to another dimension, as the natives believe, or could there be some credibility to the electromagnetic disturbances recorded in the dunes? Some say that an ancient alien spacecraft is buried deep below, while others surmise that the explorers were merely incinerated by green lightning or fell victim to some heinous native magic meant to protect the gold the greedy Europeans sought after. Coronado didn’t heed the warnings and whatever happened to his men, they were gone for good. Between sudden disappearances, hardened government suits, and scientifically unexplainable phenomena in the air and soil, this may be one to miss on your next outing.

References

Spirits Within Voodoo: Ancestors, and the Loa

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Horror Mystery and Lore
Practitioners standing in Voodoo Alley
Artwork by Wesness

Voodoo in New Orleans is quite distinguishable from the practice in other parts of the world, it grew to be more inclusive of the spiritualism that sprang up within the nineteenth century. Within the voodoo religion, powerful spirits called loa—also called mystères, or the invisibles—unlike saints and angels that are housed within the Judeo-Christian religions, they are not prayed to, they are served. Contrary to popular belief, the loa are not deities. They are considered spiritual guides, who communicate with the one supreme creator, Bondye, in order to manifest the petitions for family, love, money, happiness, wealth, and of course revenge.  The loa preside over daily life, since Bondye doesn’t interfere with personal matters, and depending upon way in which they are called upon, the spirits can be sympathetic or impish.

The Role of Deceased Ancestors

Within the voodoo religion, it’s a common belief that those who have passed away remain on the earthly plane—this is because it is the responsibility of the living to care for their passed loved ones to help them shed the baggage of their life and get them closer to Bondye. In order to care for ancestors, vodouisants light a candle and leave offerings of food and drink—as thanks, ancestors bless their loved ones with health, wealth, and fortune.

The Loa: Contacting the Spirits

Voodoo Altar in New Orleans
Photography by Greg Willis

Conducting voodoo rituals don’t always require a practitioner to petition the loa, but it’s more frequent for them to be a part of the ritual than not. Contacting the spirits can be achieved through dance, music, singing, and the use of snakes—a symbol of Papa Legba, who is the conduit to contacting the rest. In organized practice, there are houngans (priests) and mambos (priestesses), as well as bokors (sorcerers) and caplatas (witches) who lead the rituals, take requests, and receive offerings. These ritualists act as hosts to the possessing loa, which can be quite a violent sight, where the participant thrash and shake, then fall to the ground. Being a host to a loa requires those around to know how to sufficiently provide for the spirit, as they can become stubborn and demand more.

Vèvè: Symbolic Representations of the Loa

A vèvè is a religious symbol which serves to represent a loa during ritualistic practice, whereupon sacrifices and offerings are placed. Every loa has their own individual vèvè, which is typically drawn on the floor using a powder—the type of powder used depended on the type of ritual being performed.

Main Loa of the Voodoo Religion

The loa are a diverse group of spirits, too many to name without going too in depth, but these are a couple of the most well-known of the bunch.

Papa Legba: The Spirit of the Crossroads

Among one of the most important spirits within voodoo, in order for there to be any ritual regarding any other loa, Papa Legba must be contacted first. As the spirit of the crossroads, he is the origin of life, the old man who guards the crossroads, the contact between the realms of life and death—Legba must give his permission in order to communicate any other loa.

Veve, symbolic representations of Voodoo Spirits, the Loa

The poor soul who happens to offend Papa Legba will be virtually deprived of the protection of the spirit world. Guardian of voodoo temples, courtyards, plantations, and crossroads, he also protects the home—if a practitioner is planning on going traveling, they pray to Legba for protection and petition him to safely return them home. A small, crooked old man with a broken body covered in sores, he insists on walking barefoot so he has continuous contact with the earth below him—Legba is a polite and caring spirit, one that all practitioners consider to be lovable.

Papa Ghede and Baron Samedi

Papa Ghede, despite being the spirit of death, is not as forbidding as he may appear in popular imagery—he is dressed in black, with a top hat, with a cigar in his mouth, and controls the souls of those who have passed on. Although the other loa fear and avoid him, he is the one people petition when children are poor of health, as he very much loves children.

Veve, Symbolic representation of Voodoo Spirits, the Loa

There is conflicting information about the relationship between Papa Ghede and Baron Samedi—where some sources claim they are one in the same, where Papa Ghede is the lighter aspect concerning life and Baron Samedi is the dark aspect concerning death. Other sources speak of them being separate entities, where Papa Ghede does the bidding of Baron Samedi. When it comes to magic that deals with death, you can be sure whose power is actually behind it, especially since he has a special interest in those who meet their death as a result of magic.

Stull Cemetery: A Gateway to Hell

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Horror Mystery and Lore

Since the mid 90s, Stull Cemetery has been connected to legends involving paranormal hauntings, satanic rituals, witchcraft, the devil himself, and of course, the infamous, “Gateway to Hell.“ Legend has it Lucifer once used the Stull church located within the cemetery (now destroyed) as his own personal doorway from Hell. It was in Stull where he would awaken the spirits buried inside the gates of the cemetery. He’s only able to pass through the gateway twice a year, at midnight on the Spring Equinox and Halloween.

Hundreds of eye-witnesses have claimed the roofless church that once stood in the graveyard would always remain bone dry no matter the weather conditions. The legend goes that rain refused to land inside of the church, as if an invisible force surrounded the church. These supernatural happenings were attributed to the town finally tearing down the church. The once standing church was said to be the center for most of the supernatural happenings in Stull Cemetery. It even had stairs below notably leading directly to the underworld. 

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Stull Cemetery Church pictured above before the demolish

Stull Cemetery has been the focus of many in the paranormal community. It’s even said the Pope himself refuses to fly over Stull, Kansas. One of the most famous stories reportedly happened in 1993 when Pope John Paul II was flying to Colorado. According to legend the Pope had said that the ground in Stull Cemetery was so unholy, that he ordered his plane to detour away from the graveyard and Stull because even the air above Stull was too evil to fly through.

A further allure of Stull Cemetery, aside from all of the lore and legends, are the townsfolk themselves. The people of Stull have seemingly done their best to keep paranormal enthusiasts away from the cemetery. Whether it’s abundant “no trespassing” signs, local law enforcement keeping people at bay, or denying the media access, it seems the people of Stull want to keep something a secret. These activities bring even more lore to the Stull Cemetery legend, some saying the town itself is a cult tied into the undocumented witchcraft and satanic rituals that are believed to have taken place in Stull.

From a gateway to the underworld, to townspeople being apart of a mysterious cult tied to it, Stull Cemetery has more legends and lore than most paranormal locations throughout the United States. With limited accessibility to the cemetery, the legend of Stull will continue to remain just that, lore. We may never know for sure what Stull Cemetery holds.