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Featured Indie Horror Short Horror Stories

Anna Byrne: Chapter 02 – The Burden of a Witch’s Son

Urban Legends: The Curse of Lafayette

I looked up at the loft in my father’s study, my eyes burned from a lack of sleep, but if I was ever going to get broken in to some of the insane notions that my father spoke about the night before this was how I should do it. I felt his hand grasp my shoulder and the kiss he gave me on the back of my head, as he encouraged me to do the deed.

“Oh Anna, it’s not that bad,” he chuckled as he watched me climb the wooden loft steps.

“JESUS CHRI—”

“You watch your mouth young lady!” I heard him snap, as he stood in his office below.

“What is all of this stuff, Da’?” He couldn’t really blame me for my initial reaction, his loft seemed to extend the length of the entire house and not just over his own study. It was also filled with boxes, filing cabinets, and the odd armoire—speaking of which, how the hell did he even get that up there?

“Oh, don’ ye touch the armoire!” I heard him shout as he had read my mind when he settled back in front of his computer, “that’s a story fer another day!”

“You don’t expect me to get through all of this today do you?” the incredulous tone in my voice came out without my permission, but dad already knew the kind of sass that I brought to the table.

“Nah, jus’ find Oregon, seein’ ye already met Rue.” I heard him chuckle to himself, as if he had just remembered a funny joke and I could almost feel my eyes roll into the back of my head.

Oregon, Oregon—my eyes scanned the boxes, he told me he wasn’t going to help me go through anything, but that I had to go through it. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go through a few notes he’d collected on the subject. This, however, was far and away beyond a few notes that he had alluded to. Finally, I found a box against the wall that was labeled Oregon, it was sitting on a stack of boxes—also labeled Oregon—shit, I knew it, I was going to be here all night. I grabbed the top box and wrestled it over to the desk that sat in front of the octagonal loft window, where radiant light filtered through.

“Well, here goes nothing,” a sigh escaped my chest and I threw back the dusty lid of the first box of many that I was charged with reading through and memorizing. I quickly scanned the file names for the Heceta Head Lighthouse, but was disappointed to find there was nothing about it in this particular box. Another file name caught my eye though, LAFAYETTE, OR – WITCH’S CURSE, father’s handwriting neatly headed the label. My curiosity was piqued now, I had to read this one first.


The year was 1885 and the Willamette Queen had just pulled into the dock of Lafayette, Oregon. Despite the early hour, the skies were gloomy, overcast, and the clouds threatened to batter all that which laid below. Locals disembarked with a spring in their step to meet their families who had gathered to welcome them home, while others shuffled off in a daze as they attempted to gather themselves. One such family, a man as well as his wife and mother stepped off to the side; they looked around for a moment and after a brief conversation with a local street vendor, set off down one of the muddy dirt roads that led into downtown.

Sheriff Harris, propped up on his horse, eyed the newcomers into his town and noted all of the people with which he would become acquainted in the days to come. He was a relic of older times and practices; his hat, brown duster coat, and boots proved as much, the splatters of dried mud gave away his hands-on approach to his livelihood.


The Marple family had recently become settled in a home on the outskirts of town, the matron of the family, Anna Marple had already become a name on the lips of the townspeople. As a widow, it was not unusual for her to live with her son and his wife, but she never seemed to act her part. The other women of the town shunned her, gossip telephoned from one ear to the next, and there always seemed to be some small scandal or another lingering around her. This didn’t seem to matter to one David Corker, a lonely widowed shop owner; she had caught his eye nearly the first day she and her family disembarked from the Willamette Queen that dreary fall day in 1885. Anna had gained a reputation of being a very unchristian woman, her traditional black widow’s clothing turned heads, children ran when she came walking into town, and there always seemed to be a raggedy black cat that trailed behind her wherever she went.
Folks in those parts believed the widow Marple to be a witch, but the topic was never broached in proper company.

I am beginning to suspect my husband’s mother is making sinister plans for me; I fear that my mouth has become too much for her to stand to provide food for. I have no money to my name and my only contribution is that I keep a tidy home. I am quite proud of that fact, if I am to be frank, I was raised to be a homemaker after all. That of course seems to be of no consequence to my husband’s mother.

Julie Marple – May, 1886

Seasons had passed in the town of Lafayette, the summer had been a prolific one for the townspeople and consequently the burglaries had been numerous. The widow Marple had effortlessly acquired the company of the widower Corker, who had earlier that year begun the process of courting the target of his affections. This of course spawned more gossip and rumors, of the widow having Mr. Corker under some type of spell. The sheriff of course had more important things to worry about, mostly the burglaries that had been occurring in the middle of the night—and at present he only had a single suspect. It of course didn’t help that the description of the perpetrator had matched quite exactly with the lanky, sallow Mr. Marple with his dark and greasy long hair.

The Marple residence had been frequented by Sheriff Harris on many occasions, mostly due to complaints by other townspeople, but recently it had more to do with the fact that before their arrival the theft of property had been a rarity in his town. There was just nothing else that could be said on the matter, in fact, the only thing Harris could do was charge him with a crime—but the evidence supporting his theory was severely lacking. It would just have to wait.

The fall of 1886 came quickly, like the changing of the leaves, it was there before anyone could realize it was even happening. Sheriff Harris continued to get more reports of burglaries in the area and he knew he would have to do something about it soon, or risk his own unemployment. Luckily for Harris, what happened on November 1, 1886 was exactly what he needed to solidify a case that would take Marple off of his streets for good.

Let me start by saying I did it, of course, I did it. Who else could have? Who else would have? We haven’t been living in Lafayette for very long, but it feels like forever when no one will give you and job and let you keep it. That is to say—me—they won’t give me a job and let me keep it.

Richard Marple – November 1, 1886

The widow Marple had not been seen in town for a few weeks now, but her beau David Corker couldn’t leave his shop unattended. So it was to much of the surprise of his regular customers when, unlike his normal routine, Corker didn’t open the shop exactly at nine on the second morning of November. This was so odd to one of his patrons that they immediately went over to the house of the widower to see why he couldn’t purchase the much needed laudanum for his wife’s debilitating headaches. When the patron found the door to widower Corker’s home ajar, he stepped inside and realized why the store had not been opened on time that morning.

Suffice it to say, Sheriff Harris was called immediately; upon the discovery of a bloody, mutilated, and hacked Mr. Corker alongside a house that looked as if a herd of stampeding cattle had been driven through, he knew exactly who must have done it.


Sheriff Harris pounded heavily on the door of the Marple residence, the haunted silence and blackness of the night otherwise unsettled him. “Richard Marple!” He hollered into the thick wooden door before him, “This is Sheriff Harris, open up!” The plain and mousy Julie Marple opened the door in her pink floral night-coat. She held a chamberstick aloft in her hand and drew up the light to her pale and sunken expression to get a look at the Sheriff. The look on her face was one of bewilderment and exhaustion.

“What can I help you with Sheriff?” Julie’s voice was a small, melodic sound, but her confusion was thorough.

“My apologies Mrs. Marple for the late hour, but I was hoping you could tell me if your husband was in your company two nights ago?”

“I—uh—that is to say, he left early in the evening, he said that he had business to attend to in town, why is it that you ask?”

The Sheriff shook his head then further explained that he wasn’t at liberty to disclose the details of his visit, but that it was an urgent matter that required her husband’s attention. Within a moment she disappeared and the door closed with a solid thud in the sheriff’s face. When Julie’s husband appeared at the door, his expression was as sullen and bleak as could be expected—he knew what the sheriff was now at his doorstep, but his poor acting might have a fool believe that he was surprised.

“How can I help you Sheriff Harris?” Richard Marple feigned a look of foolish innocence, the lines on his pallid face were strikingly deep when the dim light of a half-moon fell upon them.

“Mr. Marple, I’m going to need you to come down to the jail with me, I’ve got several questions for you.”

“Oh, alright—let me just get my coat,” Richard of course could have used that time to establish an alibi with his mother and wife, so Harris couldn’t risk any more time spent allowing Richard the opportunity.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Mr. Marple.” The sheriff reached out and shackled his suspect, “let’s go.”


Julie watched as her mother-in-law deteriorated over the winter—there was no one left to financially support either of them and Julie wished that she had gotten out of that wretched household already. She swore to herself that the only reason she stayed in Lafayette was because she was needed for her testimony of the night in question. Otherwise she would have already hopped back on the Willamette Queen and taken it back to Corvallis to stay with her parents until she could find a way to make her own way in the world.

Her mother-in-law seemed to get smaller and smaller the longer Richard was in jail, but without his overbearing presence, Julie felt like she was thriving. She had taken the opportunity that was presented with his absence to take up a small side-business sewing and darning clothing for people in need; when the sheriff had searched her home and found the blood-soaked shirt, piece of paper, and tools of her husband’s thieving trade, however, she found she no longer had any customers. Her husband’s assumed guilt was apparently her own as well.

I must admit that I never loved David Corker—nor did I ever much enjoy his company. He was a sad older widower and a dullard at that. I sometimes suspect that his late wife passed simply to be rid of his intolerable presence. It soon became clear to me, however, when my son Richard could not find steady means of employment that it would fall to me to secure this family’s financial future. What better way than to lure in a lonely shopkeeper with my feminine gifts? Now you may be thinking that I am some sort of working lady, but I find those sorts of ladies to be utterly deplorable. I was a well-respected woman in my time, especially whilst my dear departed husband was still alive.

Anna Marple – January 7, 1887

From where Richard sat rotting in the cell at the Lafayette jail, he saw winter turn back into spring, the light slowly made its way through his barred window and he got a new cellmate often enough to keep the company fresh. Aside from not having bar-girls, tobacco, and drink, it was almost as if he wasn’t missing much of the outside world at all.

We moved here from Corvallis and you might now be imagining something awful that I must have done to drive us away from such a place. Well, I must confess that sleeping with the local tavern owner’s wife was not exactly an innocent affair, it was surely not as seedy as might be otherwise imagined. I may also, on more than one occasion, have liberated the random shop or home of certain valuables that need not have been immediately noticed. Regardless, nothing that I did in Corvallis was as terrible as what I am now suspected of.

Richard Marple – January 20, 1887

It wasn’t until early spring of 1887 that Sheriff Harris finally had enough to convict Richard Marple of the murder of shop owner David Corker—although with two witness who couldn’t corroborate his whereabouts, evidence stained with Corker’s blood, and the tools with which he broke into the home it would have seemed like an open-and-shut case. Richard, however, maintained his innocence from the time he was arrested; until he unwittingly divulged the facts of his own guilt to a cellmate, who was more than happy to give testimony in return for a reduced sentence of his own.

I wish I could tell you that I married well, that I married for love, and that I could, beyond a shadow of a doubt, trust my husband. There is a reason we moved away from Corvallis in 1885, though, and it was not a good one. My mother and father did not know Richard well enough when they gave me away, however, I trust that if they had understood the character of the man that they would have vehemently objected. My story may not be remembered but I have a strong suspicion that my husband and his mother will live on in history. After all, murderers usually do.

Julie Marple – April 10, 1887

The conviction of Richard Marple was unopposed after that final piece of the puzzle was fit roughly into the picture—a confession, even second-hand was enough to convince the jury of his peers. Even with the general disdain of the town for him and his family, they had otherwise been unwilling to suspect that one of their own was capable of committing such a crime. Corker had been a beloved member of their community though and his absence continued to be felt on a daily basis; the only recompense was someone would hang for the crime. Eventually the realization of the one they should hang became self-evident and he was sentenced to swing by the neck on November of that year.


The Gallows
The Gallows

The burly Sheriff Harris stepped up to Richard at the gallows, papers in his hand as he read off the convictions for which the man was to be executed. “For the robbery and most heinous murder of our own David Corker, Richard Marple shall now be executed by hanging!” This announcement was met by unwavering applause from the thirty or more men, women, and children that made up the crowd that stood before them.

Richard stood hunched next to the confident authority of the Sheriff, his shoulders slumped forward in defeat as the noose hung heavily around his neck. His beetle black eyes scanned the crowd which continued clapped heartily to watch him meet his demise. Several men shouted from the crowd, but Richard could only make out one man in particular, who told shouted to let “the murderer burn in hell!”

“Put the hood over the prisoner’s head,” Sheriff Harris ordered the executioner immediately, he was in no mood to let a murderer have his last words, but before the hood could be shoved over his head, Richard pulled roughly away.

“MURDER!” He shouted desperately into the crowd below him—his dehydrated lips cracked with his efforts, “May God judge you all!” Anything else that Richard may have said was muffled as his head was stuffed forcibly into the hood. The executioner stepped back to the lever of the trapdoor and on the Sheriff’s signal pulled forcefully to release it. “ACK!” The sound that escaped Richard’s throat was inhuman, as his feet fell out from beneath him and the rope snapped taut. His eyes bulged out of his face, the knot lodged directly under his throat, which prevented his neck from breaking and him from meeting a quick end.

Richard’s mother emerged from within the center of the crowd, her hair was wild and unkempt—her eyes were red with a year’s worth of tears. Her dress billowed around her as she fell to her knees, the people that surrounded her moved suddenly to give her a wider berth.

“Murderers! All of you! Murderers!” She bellowed, her grief-stricken voice cracked with a hoarse pain. “You shall all feel the pain of those you have wronged! Your town shall never prosper! I curse you and all of your children’s children to feel the fiery hell of my fury as your town burns around you time and time again!” Her head fell limp into the hands that now rested on her lap, her sobs shook her body viciously as Richard’s body twitched and seized. His wife, Julie, came behind his mother to comfort her, her own face streaked with tears, but Anna pulled away wailing for the loss of her only son.

Witch Burning a Village
Witch Burning a Village

“Hot damn,” I heard the words come out of my mouth after having reviewed the file at length. I folded up the file, but several news clippings fell out into my lap when I went to replace the file into the box. There was a clipping of every single fire that had occurred in Lafayette since the widow Marple had placed her verbal curse upon the town and its people. In fact not a decade had gone by since, that the town had not experienced some type of devastating fire—and there had been, I saw, on two separate occasions, fires so intense that they had leveled the entire town. “That was one pissed-off witch.”

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Gretel & Hansel (2020), a Grimm Fairy Tale

Creepy Foggy Forest
Photography by Silvana Amicone

Folklore has an extended history of portraying witches as evil, human-sacrificing, child-eating monsters–and for with all of the religious turmoil and economic insecurity that these stories sprang from it’s no wonder. Hansel and Gretel are no different, in fact, it may be the most telling story of them all; for the real evil lies not within the woods, but in the home from which Hansel and Gretel are inevitably turned out.

The Origin of Hansel and Gretel

The original tale of Hansel and Gretel, like many tales that came before literacy and written record was a tale passed down through verbal methods–if you grew up having fairy tales read to you, then you’re probably familiar with the tale of these two siblings. Two children lost in the woods, a trail of breadcrumbs, and a cottage made out of delicious sweets. A wicked witch traps the siblings, intending to eat them, but they trick her, narrowly escape with their lives, and make it back home to their father.

Hansel & Gretel at the Witch's House
Hansel & Gretel at the Witch’s House

While the story doesn’t give us an exact date of when the story was to have taken place, the Brothers Grimm recorded and published the first printed version in 1812, but the story has roots that show it existed in oral traditions for hundreds of years prior. There are theories that date this tale back to the famine that ravaged Europe during the 1300s, which would place the origin somewhere during the Medieval era. The key-point of the story is that the family of Hansel and Gretel are on the brink of starvation–there is so little that the story suggests that their father’s wife, referenced as the children’s stepmother, would rather sacrifice the lives of the children than go without herself.

Survival is the name of the game–this developed the mood of scarcity, gumption, and the bond between siblings. Their family must survive the famine, then the siblings must survive the parents, as well as the hardships of the woods, not to mention the witch herself. It’s easy to overlook the sinister nature of all of these aspects of the tale as soon as there is mention of a cottage made out of candy and sweets. That is the one part of the tale that plants this story firmly into the category of fairy tale, because even though witches may be no stranger to fictional tales, we know all too well that humans can do awful things to one another, including abandoning their children for selfish reasons.

Giving Folklore New Life

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Poster
Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Poster

From the origins of Hansel and Gretel, to this newest take on its adaptation to film, the director Osgood Perkins did a wonderful job in honoring the roots of this fairy tale, while also making it unique, visually tantalizing, as well a tasteful combination between the old and the modern. Since he originally made his debut as a horror writer/director with a beautifully tragic and superbly horrific possession film entitled The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015), Perkins has given us a fresh perspective on what we should expect from horror. His movies are particularly dark and dreary, the hauntingly realistic settings in which he places his characters bring a dramatic, eerie, slowness that takes you through someone’s story, instead of rushing you to the end. Just like with his first true horror success, Gretel & Hansel (2020) takes us on a journey upon which we are allowed to savor the terrifying circumstances our protagonists take.

If you noticed the glaring differences between the folklore and this new film adaptation, you’re not the only one–the most obvious of which is the age of the siblings. In the original folklore they’re either portrayed as twins, or as an older brother/younger sister pair, but here we see Gretel as the big protective sister. This change is captivating as it gave us Sophia Lillis exploring her talents for horror again after she brought us It (2017) as well as It: Chapter Two (2019) as Beverly Marsh–the sole girl “loser” in an otherwise boys-only club. Suffice it to say Lillis is exceptional in both her role as Beverly and now as Gretel.

It’s not like there haven’t been multiple attempts to capture the original story on film, but it seems like any film that ventured to capture the dark and terrible nature of this tale of caution have all been conveyed with too much of a sense of fantasy and not with the reality with which it was treated in this newest adaptation.

Long live Gretel the Good.

Gretel & Hansel IMDB Listing

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Hexing, Cursing, and Crossing: The Truth Behind Baneful Magic

In antiquity, the distinction was made between “white,” and “black,” magic (excuse the quotes, those terms are the most recognizable, although I personally reject the concept of colors in magic). In The Book of Black Magic and Pacts, we’re told that, “Esoteric Medicine, which consisted in the application of occult forces to the healing of disease in man, and included a traditional knowledge of the medicinal properties resident in some substances disregarded by ordinary pharmacy, produced in its malpractice the secret science of poisoning, and the destruction of health.” Every witch knows that it’s not always black and white—many times there are shades of gray.

Baneful magic has existed as long as magic has existed—that is to say, as long as we as a species have believed in helpful magic, we have believed in harmful magic. Hexes, curses, and crosses are but a few of the names that baneful spells within witchcraft or magic culture are referred to as. So why is there such a huge culture of misinformation surrounding baneful magic? Why do people label it as being “black” or “dark”? Well—to be quite frank, it’s simply the result of a bad reputation and possibly a little ignorance. It’s unfortunate that noted authorities like Waite are still being trusted when their beliefs and assertions are so far outdated, but they do give us a good idea of how far we’ve come.

To say his belief that, “White Ceremonial Magic is … an attempt to communicate with Good Spirits for a good … purpose. Black Magic is the attempt to communicate with Evil Spirits for an evil purpose,” would be a ridiculous oversimplification.

Traditions of Baneful Magic: What’s the Difference?

There is a common saying within the community of magic practitioners, that “a witch that cannot hex, cannot heal.” This always seems to strike a foul mood in practitioners who are adamant that magical practices can only include fluffy, happy vibes and should only exist to help people and not to interfere with free will, nor should it be used to harm anyone. The overall concept is that magic itself is not good, nor is it evil. Just like a knife is not in itself good or evil. The operator of the equipment decides how to use it—so if a construction worker decides to knock down an orphanage instead of the building set to be demolished, you’re not going to blame the wrecking ball. So, let’s explore the differences between the different types of baneful magic.

Hexing

Hexing, when it comes right down to it, is a baneful spell—this is a spell cast by a practicing witch—that is intended to cause a specific, non-beneficial result on an intended target. In metaphysical literature, it’s quite common for the word “hex” and “curse” to be used interchangeably, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll be using the word “hex”. That is to say that hexes are inherently evil, as many witches who practice baneful magic typically have a good reason for casting such spells.

An example scenario that a witch might cast such a spell for, is when a mother is fighting for custody of their children through the court system, but the father (and intended target) has a history of domestic violence, drug abuse, or worse. The mother has done everything within their power to secure the safety and future of their children, but somehow the father still has a pretty good chance at winning custody. In this circumstance, a witch could target the father’s lawyer to do poorly in his court performance, which might help turn the tables in the favor of the mother—or—the witch could target the father to have all of his lies exposed.

What is a curse to one person is a blessing to someone else. It just depends on where you happen to be sitting. That’s why the ethical lines are so blurry.

Hexing is a tool that a witch can use to interfere with free will in situations that call for it—of course, there are also individual witches out there who are just nasty people and love nothing more than to watch people suffer. Overwhelmingly, people generally fall into the good category and don’t go out of their way to ruin people’s lives. There is also the lesser-known fact that practicing baneful magic takes an incredible amount of energy and will often leave a witch feeling exhausted, irritable, or even sick. I can tell you from personal experience that the worse the intended hex is, the worse a witch will feel afterward.

Dark Witch in the Woods
Dark Witch in the Woods

Cursing

There are two schools of thought when it comes to what a curse is. Some people believe that a curse is simply, wishing bad things upon someone who has slighted you in some way. This could be as silly as, “I hope you step in water whenever you put on fresh socks,” in an effort to ensure the person is forever uncomfortable—or it could be something much more serious. As a general rule, however, curses are not actually spells—they are manifestations of intentions, with no specific ritual attached to it. Now, some witches may disagree with this definition, but I’d like to reiterate that hex and curse can be used interchangeably. Most often, the layman knows curses as they relate to the grievous incidents that surround certain objects, projects, or historic events.

Famous Curses

There are also curses that have played significant roles in history; we can look at practically any culture on earth and find a curse that is commonly believed to be true. These curses can range from the ridiculous to the significant, but one thing is certain, they get a lot of attention by those who believe in the supernatural and paranormal.

The Curse of King Tut (or the Curse of the Pharaohs)

Tutankhamun is famously known to have been a pharaoh of Egypt during the 14th century, but when the tomb at the base of his pyramid was opened in February 1923, no one could have known the tragedy that would follow. Perhaps this curse is a result of a hysteria over the death of the archaeological team’s lead sponsor just two months after the discovery of Tutankhamun’s mummy. At the time, it was believed that he had died from King Tut’s curse, when the reporters from Britain made the baseless claim—as it was found that he had actually died from an unidentified bacterial infection. However, when other members of the archaeological team died soon after, the curse was revived; ever since there have been movies inspired by the terrifying prospect of being cursed by the mummy of Tutankhamun.

The Curse of the Hope Diamond

When French gem dealer Jean-Baptiste Tavernier purchased a large diamond in the 1660s it was believed that the 112-carat monstrosity had been stolen from the head of an idol in India. The legend followed that the priests of the temple where the idol had been vandalized cursed the precious stone upon its theft. Some believe that it was Tavernier himself that had stolen the diamond from the Hindu goddess’s statue, and the legend of its curse was spread by newspapers and jewelers alike. Its original owner after Tavernier acquired it, was King Louis XVI of France, who gave it to both Princess de Lamballie and Marie Antoinette to wear. Both women along with King Louis XVI were met with the guillotine during the French Revolution and so the curse of the Hope Diamond was born.

After the first three to possess the jewel met such a gruesome death, it was believed that anyone who was unlucky enough to possess it would also die in mysterious ways. Allegedly even jewelers who kept it at their shop met this unusual fate. Henry Philip Hope came into possession of it in 1839 and died the same year, but eventually, it came into the possession of American heiress Evelyn Wash McLean in the 1910s. McLean ended up dying and ownership defaulted to a jewelry company in the U.S. that sold it to the Smithsonian in 1958. To this day, the famously cursed jewel remains on display in the United States through the Smithsonian Institution. Many who want to be more logical about so many deaths would believe that this curse was actually a product of greed, an attempt to make the jewel that much more valuable.

The Kennedy Curse

The assassination of President Kennedy was the lynchpin that marks the beginning of the curse of the Kennedys. Robert Kennedy was also assassinated five years later, Senator Ted Kennedy somehow survived a plane crash only to drive off a bridge later on. Robert Kennedy’s son died as the result of a drug overdose and his second son died in a skiing accident. Then, JFK Jr. died in a plane crash with his wife and sister, and finally the wife of RFK Jr., Mary Kennedy committed suicide. Talk about a family curse!

The Curse of Rosemary’s Baby

Often when movies like Rosemary’s Baby are said to be cursed, it’s typically as a result of a marketing strategy; a means to boost ticket sales and they’re later found to be a simple publicity stunt. There are many who believe that all the negative happenings surrounding the production of the movie wasn’t just a little bad luck.

Ira Levin Reputation Tanked

Despite the book’s adaptation into the feature film and lingering popularity over the last five decades, author Ira Levin’s reputation, career, and personal life were all but ruined. Religious institutions around the world were not pleased at what they perceived to be Levin’s attacks on organized religions, with the Catholic Church even asserting his book was blasphemous. Levin’s wife left him the same year that the film was released and as a result of his poor luck, he became more terrified and paranoid as time passed. Not just that, but due to his reputation as a blasphemer, he had to publicly denounce Satanism on a regular basis and his later attempts to salvage his career with a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby failed miserably.

The Fall of Castle

William Castle, the man who initially picked Levin’s novel up to purchase the rights to the film ended up becoming the producer for the project. Unfortunately for Castle, not only did he develop severe kidney stones, but his mental health also suffered due to the volume of hate mail he received as a direct result of being associated with the film. He later made claims that he hallucinated demonic scenes from the movie while he was under anesthesia during his surgery. His reputation never recovered.

Death, Substance Abuse, and Assault

Numerous other stories are related to the curse that is believed to have surrounded Rosemary’s Baby, one truly famous story involves the film’s composer Krzysztof Komenda, who fell into a coma after a falling accident. Some link his coma to that of Rosemary’s friend within the film, Hutch who was targeted by a witch’s curse. Like Hutch, Komeda never recovered from the coma but instead died the following year. John Lennon was another popular death associated with the curse of the film, since he was assassinated just outside of The Dakota in 1980, the building featured as Rosemary’s prison within the film. Another famous story that is linked to the curse, is the murders of Roman Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate, as well as their unborn child. Victims of the Manson Family and their leader, Charles Manson.

Crossing

Crossing comes from a separate tradition altogether—it’s not technically considered part of the witchcraft tradition, since voodooisants, hoodoos, and folk magic practitioners don’t generally consider themselves to be “witches”. Being cursed with Zombification might not exactly be something that conjure, one wishes for, but as opposed to other ways in which folk magic practitioners practice baneful magic it might be one of the least painful ways to suffer. Crossing within folk magic cultural practices might be similar to curses and hexes in theory, but it’s wellknown that regular “black” magic doesn’t hold a candle (pun intended) to the type of crossing that is done within voodoo, conjure, hoodoo, and folk magic. This is in part due to the fact that crossing often involves personal talismans, like blood, hair, and fingernails which amp up the power of any magical working.

Final Thoughts

As in the article presented by the Scientific American, what really makes people wary of so-called “black” magic, is the “bad is black” effect. “[It] only underscores the importance of finding ways to combat the various ways that our inherent biases can influence perceptions of guilt and innocence.” This essentially submits that anything with the label of “black” is automatically associated with being bad. What should really be taken away from this article, is that hexing, cursing, and crossing are used (much of the time) in a way that vindicates the practitioner of any wrongdoing.

As a witch that practices baneful magic, I don’t often advertise the fact, I prefer to not have to debate, argue, or even calmly explain my own beliefs and practices. Nor do I feel that anyone outside of the practitioner has much of a right to know the whys or hows. I would never divulge on whom these practices might be focused! Witchcraft and any other magical practice is a very personal thing—so, if you’re the target of someone who is claiming that they’ve done black magic on you, or that they’ve cursed you, you can in most cases, discount their claims. No magical practitioner worth their salt goes around telling their targets that they’ve done work on them. You can rest assured that those who claim they’ve cursed, hexed, or crossed you simply want you to believe they have and effectively scare the shit out of you.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes…

A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest … because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.”

Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith

Work Cited

Dhruv Bose, Swapnil. “Dissecting the Curse of Roman Polanski’s Horror Classic ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.” Far Out Magazine, 24 Nov. 2020.

Farnstrom, Mary. “A Voodoo Practice: Mysteries of Zombification.” Puzzle Box Horror, 2 Apr. 2020.

Farnstrom, Mary. “African American Folk Magic: Hoodoo, Conjure, and Rootwork.” Puzzle Box Horror, 12 Feb. 2020.

Farnstrom, Mary. “Oddities of the Bayou: Religions and the Occult.” Puzzle Box Horror, 12 Feb. 2020.

Farnstrom, Mary. “Punishment for Grave Robbing Epitomized in Short Horror Film, Toe (2020).” Puzzle Box Horror, 5 Apr. 2020.

Farnstrom, Mary. “Rosemary’s Baby Review: Terror in Plain Sight.” Puzzle Box Horror, 24 Jan. 2021.

Freuler, Kate. Of Blood and Bones: Working with Shadow Magick and the Dark Moon. Llewellyn Publications, 2020.

Farnstrom, Mary. “The Utterly Wicked Truths About ‘Dark’ Magic.” Puzzle Box Horror, 11 Sept. 2020.

Grewal, Daisy. “The ‘Bad Is Black’ Effect.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 17 Jan. 2017.

“The Distinction between White and Black Magic.” The Book of Black Magic and Pacts: Including the Rites and Mysteries of goëtic Theurgy, Sorcery, and Infernal Necromancy, by Arthur Edward Waite, Weiser, 1984, pp. 13–15.

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Lifestyle

The Utterly Wicked Truths About “Dark” Magic

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.

If you’re looking for more information on stuff like this, leave us a comment and let us know!

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore NA

Urban Legends – The Cursed Buckout Road

When you mix a long history of violence with an abandoned mansion on a spooky road surrounded by woods, you know what you get? The paranormal. Since Buckout Road in White Plains, New York has this combination, naturally, it has quite a bit of paranormal history. Though this one is especially interesting with arson, grave robbing, witch trials, and more littering its history.

History of Buckout Road

Gravestone of John Buckhout
Gravesite of John Buckhout

Quite a bit has happened on this shady road in New York. To begin, there was a large event where many slaves were illegally released. This established the first free black community in New York. It’s been rumored to have been a checkpoint in the Underground Railway as well. There was a clash between Native Americans and white settlers which ended in mass murder, with some victims even being scalped. One of the more well-known incidents there included the murder of a family member that lived in a mansion on Buckout Road. This was the Buckhout family, they had initially lived in Sleepy Hollow, which you likely have heard of from the story of The Headless Horseman. The road was named after this once prominent and landholding family. On the road stands one lone headstone that belongs to John and Charlotte Buckhout. John and Charlotte had not been the murder victims in their family though, it was actually the wife of Isaac V. Buckhout, whose name was Louise. Isaac had discovered that Louise was having an affair with a man named Alfred Randall, and he viciously murdered the two lovers. Issac was eventually hanged for his actions on New Years day in 1872. He was later buried in Sleepy Hollow.

Albert Fish

Albert Fish was one of the worst human beings imaginable, and it is alleged that he owned a residence on Buckout Road. He was a child killer, and he was also a cannibal. Some consider him the real life Hannibal Lecter, and he has other names such as the Brooklyn Vampire, The Gray Man, and more. Fish was born in 1870, he was always a quiet and unassuming man who kept a very private life. His family had a long history of mental illness, his brother was in an asylum, his uncle was diagnosed with mania, and his mother routinely suffered from hallucinations. He went on to consume human waste, stick needles into his pelvic area, and just overall become very unstable. He began to eat raw meat, eventually graduating to human flesh. He went on to murder and eat three children, he is just another example of the evil that can be connected to Buckout Road.

Witches and Ghosts and Cannibals, Oh My!

You can’t be on a haunted street without seeing an old, and a worn-down red barn, right? This is exactly what used to reside on Buckout Road. Multiple people have claimed to have a paranormal experience with it too. It was said there was a family of cannibal albinos that lived in the home, and if you disturbed them, they would eat your flesh. If you stopped your car in front of the barn and honked your horn three times, they would come out and attack you. There was one report of that a teenager went to put an M-80 (a powerful type of firecracker) into the mailbox to prank the ghostly albino family. But when he opened the mailbox, he saw the decapitated head of a child inside.

There have also been a surprising amount of reports of witches on this road. It was said that three women were burned at the stake on suspicion of them being witches, and this was before the Salem witch trials took place. It is rumored that these three witches left three white X’s on the road in a certain spot, and every once in a while these three markings are reapplied. Supposedly if you flash your lights three times on the markings and turn off your car engine, your car will not start back up. Many locals claim that they have had car trouble on that road.

The final, less common occurrence was of a ghost called the Leatherman. He was said to be a ghostly figure that drives on the road at night, looking for his home which is a long gone cave. There are not many who have claimed to have seen the Leatherman.

Movie and Book

There is a book with an in-depth look at the history of Buckout Road, it is called Buckout Road: Revealing the Horrifying Truth of Westchester County’s Alleged Haunted Street by Eric Pleska. The Curse of Buckout Road is a horror movie based on the chilling history.

Index

http://rightondudes.com/buckouthistory.html

https://www.bedofnailz.com/buckout.html