Monday, October 31, 2011

Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

In honor of Halloween, we take a walk with Nick Redfern and hear the story of the Beast of Bray Road which appeared in Chapter 4: Fangs, Fur, and Files of his book Memoirs of a Monster Hunter.

For reasons that have always eluded me, and for as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with strange animals, and particularly with werewolves. When the other little kids at school were reading the British equivalents of Nancy Drew- and Hardy Boys-style adventures, I was deeply engrossed in the study of all things lycanthropic, including learning how to summon up demonic werewolf-style entities from the Underworld, and even how to transform oneself into a salivating, hairy beast borne of a full moon. That never worked, however. In Three Men Seeking Monsters, I revealed the rich history of centuries-long sightings of werewolves in Britain, and detailed my own encounter with such a beast in August 2002, when, in the throes of “sleep paralysis,” I received a visitation from some nightmarish, wolf-like creature that growled and snarled menacingly as it made its ominous way down the corridor to our bedroom. After a tumultuous struggle on my part to wake up, the beast vanished amidst an overpowering stench of brimstone. I decided to cut back on my daily quota of whisky after that. Well, for a while anyway.

And when I learned in early 2003 that a respected journalist was researching a sighting in Wisconsin of a weird, werewolf-like entity that was apparently, and somewhat startlingly, the subject of an official file with the local authorities, I knew that this was a story I had to get my teeth into (or perhaps claws would be a better term, considering the circumstances). Armed with trusty tape-recorder, pen and pad, and a .357 Magnum loaded with silver-tipped bullets (okay, I confess, the latter might be a bit of artistic license), I set off on a quest to uncover the truth about the Wisconsin werewolf and the woman who was about to bring the beast’s infamy to the American public, Linda S. Godfrey.

Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Godfrey, an author and journalist, was raised in Milton and currently resides with her husband in rural Elkhorn. Godfrey is a professional cartoonist, teacher, and writer whose newspaper articles have garnered several awards, including a first place feature story from the National Newspaper Association in 1995 and 1998. But it was her book, The Beast of Bray Road, and her time as Wisconsin’s very own unofficial werewolf hunter, that has put her at the forefront of one of the strangest stories of modern times.

“Linda,” I began, “What is the background to the story of the Beast of Bray Road?”

She replied: “The story first came to my attention in about 1991 from a woman who had heard that there were rumors going around here in Elkhorn, and particularly in the high school, that people had been seeing something like a werewolf, a wolf-like creature, or a wolf-man. They didn’t really know what it was. But some were saying it was a werewolf. And the werewolf tag has just got used because I think that people really didn’t know what else to call it. And these days you have so much Hollywood influence that it colors your thinking about your observations. So when anybody sees something that’s an out-of-place animal, you get those images.”

“And I guess it attracted your journalistic mind, too?” I wanted to know.

“Well, I started checking it out,” Linda explained. “I talked about it with the editor at The Week newspaper here, and which I used to work for. He said:, ‘Why don’t you check around a little bit and see what you hear?’ This was about the end of December. And being a weekly newspaper that I worked for, we weren’t really hard news; we were much more feature oriented. So I asked a friend who had a daughter in high school and she said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what everybody’s talking about.’ So, I started my investigations and got one name from the woman who told me about it. She was also a part-time bus driver.”

“And what did she tell you?” I asked.

“In my first phone call to the bus-driver, she told me that she had called the County Animal Control Officer. So, of course, when you’re a reporter, anytime you have a chance to find anything official that’s where you go. I went out to see him and, sure enough, he had a folder in his file draw that he had actually marked Werewolf, in a tongue-in-cheek way.”

I laughed. “That’s kind of surreal.”

Linda was careful to state: “Well, it wasn’t, by any means, that he believed it was a werewolf; but people had been phoning in to him to say that they’d been seeing something. They didn’t know what it was. But from their descriptions, that’s what he had put. So, of course that made it a news story. When you have a public official, the County Animal Control Officer, who has a folder marked Werewolf, that’s news.” She added perceptively, “It was very unusual.”

“That must have really kick-started you and the publicity surrounding the mystery.” I offered.

“Yes,” she told me. “It just took off from there and I kept finding more and more witnesses. At first they all wanted to stay private, and I remember talking about it with the editor and we thought we would run the story because it would be over in a couple of weeks. The story was picked up by Associated Press. Once it hit AP, everything broke loose, and people were just going crazy. All the Milwaukee TV stations came out and did stories, dug until they found the witnesses, and got them to change their minds and go on camera, which some of them later regretted. And which I kind of regret—because it really made them reluctant, and kind of hampered the later investigation.”

“Okay,” I said, “so we have the background. But what, exactly, was it that people were reporting seeing?”

Linda’s reply was more than intriguing, to say the least. “They were all mostly saying that they had seen something which was much larger than normal, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four, with a wolfish head. Some described it as a German Shepherd-like head, pointed ears, very long, coarse, shaggy, and wild-looking fur. One thing they all mentioned is that it would turn and look at them and gaze fearlessly or leer at them, and it was at that point that they all got really frightened. Everybody who has seen it—with the exception of one—has been extremely scared because it’s so out of the ordinary. It was something they couldn’t identify and didn’t appear to be afraid of them. It would just casually turn around and disappear into the brush. It was never just out in the open where it didn’t have some sort of hiding place. There was always a cornfield or some brush or some woods. So, that was pretty much the start of it.”

“And it progressed from there big time?” I inquired of Linda.

She responded in the affirmative: “Yes. Once that got out, I started finding other people who called me and got in touch with me and I sort of became the unofficial clearinghouse. And we called it the Beast of Bray Road because I’ve always been reluctant to call it a werewolf. The original sightings were in an area known as Bray Road, which is outside of Elkhorn.”

“What are the theories regarding what the beast might actually be?” I asked her, with mounting interest.

“Everybody seems to have an opinion about this that they are eager to make known and defend,” Linda explained. “I personally don’t think there are enough facts for anybody to come to a conclusion. I have a couple of dozen sightings, at least. A few of them are second-hand and they date back to 1936. And they aren’t all around Bray Road. Quite a number of them are in the next county, Jefferson. I’ve had a woman write me who insists it’s a wolf. And I think a lot of people subscribe to that theory; yes, it’s definitely a wolf and can’t be anything else. But that doesn’t explain the large size. A lone wolf can travel by itself. And there are wolf packs in northwestern Wisconsin. Except this has been seen over so many years.”

I continued the questions: “But that’s not the only theory?”

“There’s another possibility: I think a lot of these people are seeing different things. And that when they heard somebody else talk about something, there’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, that must be what I saw.’ There’s really no way to know. And there are differences in some of the sightings. I’ve had people ask me, ‘Are you sure this isn’t Bigfoot?’ Most of the sightings really don’t sound like what people report as Bigfoot. But a couple of them do. There’s one man who saw it in the 1960s in a different area of the county, who insists positively that he saw a Bigfoot, but he doesn’t want anyone saying he saw a werewolf. And the terrain around here isn’t really the typical sort of Bigfoot terrain of forests where people usually report these things. We do have woods and a big state forest; but it’s a narrow band of forest. It’s a lot of prairie and is not what you would think a Bigfoot would live in. But you never know. I’ve also had the baboon theory, which I find extremely unlikely.”

“And I’m sure there are almost as many theories as witnesses,” I commented.

“We’ve had all sorts of theories: mental patients escaping or some crazy guy running around. A hoaxer is another theory; that it’s somebody running around in a werewolf suit. One or two could have been that but I tend to have my doubts about that [theory] because the incidents are very isolated and not close together. One of the sightings was on Halloween, but that’s also one of the people that got a really good look at it and they’re sure it wasn’t a human in a costume. Otherwise, most of them have been really in remote locations where, if you were going to hoax, the person would have to have been sitting out there in the cold just waiting for somebody to come along. So if it is a hoaxer, my hat’s off to them. But I tend not to think that’s the case. I don’t rule it out completely because once publicity gets out, things like that can happen.”

“Are all the reports of a single creature or has it been seen in pairs or packs?” I asked Linda.

She thought upon her answer for a moment, then replied, “The only report—and it’s a second-hand report—came from two hunters quite a bit farther north who saw what looked like two ‘dog children’ standing up in the woods. They were too scared to shoot when they saw them. They were not tall; they were juvenile looking, standing upright, which is what scared them. But otherwise it’s a single creature.”

Then I posed the inevitable question in a situation such as this: “Is there a tie-in with the werewolf legends about these creatures being seen when the moon is full?”

“Well, most of the sightings I receive aren’t recent, and so people can’t remember too well what the moon was like. But most of the sightings occur around the fall when the cornfields get big and there’s really good hiding cover. So that’s anywhere from late August through November. And I’ve had some sightings from the spring. But there are other theories as well for what is going on.”

Linda continued: “Occasionally I’ll get letters from people who say they are lycanthropes themselves and their theory is that this is an immature, real werewolf and it cannot control its transformation and that’s why it allows itself to be seen occasionally. They are completely convinced of that. And there are people who believe it’s a manifestation of satanic forces, that it’s a part of a demonic thing. They point to various occult activities around here. There are also people who try to link it to UFOs. Then there’s the theory that it’s just a dog. One woman, a medium, thought that it was a natural animal but didn’t know what it was. And there are a lot of people out here that do wolf-hybridizations, and I’ve thought to myself you’d get something like that. But that doesn’t explain the upright posture. Then there’s the theory that it’s a creature known as the Windigo or Wendigo, which is featured in Indian legends and is supposedly a supernatural creature that lives on human flesh. But none of the descriptions from the Windigo legends describe a creature with canine features.”

“And what, after all of your investigations, have you concluded lies behind the mystery of the Beast of Bray Road?” I asked her.

“Well, part of the angle of the book is looking at this as a sociological phenomenon and how something that a number of people see turns into legend. And it has become that, a little bit. Personally, I’m still happy to leave it an open mystery; I don’t have a feeling that it has to be pinned down.”

“With the publication of The Beast of Bray Road, do you feel that you work is now over and—regardless of whether or not the mystery has been conclusively resolved—you can move on?”

Linda responded with a laugh in her voice: “I don’t think people will let me move on. I thought I would have moved on eight years ago but people still continue to contact me and I try to help them as much as I can.” As time progressed, in the wake of the publication of her book, Linda continued to receive countless reports of the beast. Indeed, in 2005 she produced a follow-up title: Hunting the American Werewolf. I was delighted when Linda asked me to write an introduction for the book, which, in my mind, is the finest study of North American lycanthropes. I stay in touch with Linda to this day and, sure enough, Wisconsin’s very own werewolf hunter is still hard at work, still seeking the diabolical beast, whether physical, paranormal, or satanic, that stalks by both night and day the prairies of rural Wisconsin.

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including The Real Men in BlackContacteesThe NASA ConspiraciesMemoirsof a Monster Hunter, and the forthcoming Keep Out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Man-Monkey by Nick Redfern

Creature of the Month – The Man-Monkey by Nick Redfern

On the chilly evening of January 21, 1879, a man was walking home, with his horse-and-cart in tow, along the tree-shrouded lanes that to this day still link the hamlet of Woodcote in Shropshire to the tiny locale of Ranton, Staffordshire, England. All was as it should have been until around 10.00 p.m., when barely a mile from Woodseaves and while crossing over Bridge 39 on the Shropshire Union Canal, the man’s life was plunged into chaos and terror.

Out of the darkened woods emerged a frightening beast: it was large, black-haired, monkey-like in appearance, and sported a pair of bright, self-illuminated eyes that glowed eerily and hypnotically.

The monster suddenly jumped atop the cart, then, incredibly, leapt onto the back of the terrified horse, which took off in a frenzied gallop, with the cart careering wildly behind. The man, to his credit, gave chase, and finally caught up with the horse, cart, and beast. On doing so, he proceeded to hit with his whip what was surely the closest thing the British Isles have ever seen to Bigfoot.

Incredibly, the man later reported that on each and every occasion he tried to strike the beast, the whip simply passed through its body – as if the hairy thing was nothing less than a terrifying specter of the night. A moment or so later, and without warning, the creature leapt to the ground and bounded away into the safety of the dark woods that loomed on all sides. The shocking event was over as quickly as it had begun.

Racing to a local pub for a much-needed pint of beer or several, the man, in shaky tones, told his story to the astounded and worried customers and staff. He then headed back home and took to his bed, where he reportedly spent two days in a state of near-exhaustion. Soon, the local police got wind of the story, who duly told the eye-witnesses’ employer that the existence of the beast was well known in the area. Dubbed the Man-Monkey, the police said, it had first surfaced from the woods surrounding the canal after a man had died after falling into its cold, dark waters late one night, some months earlier.

It is highly intriguing to note that the local police linked the beginnings of the Man-Monkey legend with the death of a man who had drowned in the Shropshire Union Canal. It was widely believed, at the time, in some areas of Britain that still held to ancient tradition and folklore, that the souls of recently departed people could return to our plane of existence in the form of horrific beasts – and beasts of a type that would fit quite comfortably within the realm of today’s field of cryptozoology, such as the Man-Monkey.

In her 1883 book Shropshire Folklore, Charlotte S. Burne, a long-deceased writer who became fascinated by the legend of the Man-Monkey, outlined the nature of the beliefs relative to “the constant transformation of the departed into animals.”

She said: “I believe this to have originated in the classical and medieval notion of werewolves, living men who could assume the shape of a wolf at pleasure. Sometimes also a corpse would arise from its grave in the form of a wolf, and might do incalculable damage if it were not at once beheaded and cast into the nearest stream. Wolves have been extinct in England long enough to have disappeared from popular tales, though not so many centuries as most people suppose, but the Man-Monkey seems very like the old fable in a new guise.”

And there is another aspect to the saga of the Man-Monkey that also places the beast in a definitively paranormal realm that is suggestive of a link to the afterlife. On December 8, 1878 – only a month before the Man-Monkey manifested on Bridge 39 of the Shropshire Union Canal -Sheldrake’s Aldershot & Sandhurst Military Gazette reported on the rumor that a gorilla had been seen in the area on several occasions, reportedly having escaped from a traveling menagerie, only a short distance from the canal bridge where the Man-Monkey appeared.   

Was the story true? Was there really a mobile zoo from which a gorilla made a successful bid for freedom? And, if so, did it briefly make its home in the wilds of Shropshire and bordering Staffordshire, before succumbing to starvation and the effects of a harsh English winter – and then returning in ghostly form to haunt the Bridge 39 that, to this day, still spans the Shropshire Union Canal?

If the Man-Monkey was some form of spectral entity, such a theory might very well explain why sightings of the terrible creature have continued to be reported as late as 2008. After all, it’s nigh-on impossible that a solitary creature could roam the area for 130 years and never be caught – never mind live for such an astonishingly long period of time. Britain’s Bigfoot, it seems very likely, is a beast of a definitively supernatural nature.

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including The Real Men in Black, Contactees, The NASA Conspiracies, Memoirsof a Monster Hunter, and the forthcoming Keep Out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weird News of the Week

Plants Sense Physical Forces

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Springy Yo-Yos to the Rescue

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The Power of Kites

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Was first photograph of UFO really a Comet?

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British Cabbie first human to be Mummified in 3000 Years

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Monday, October 24, 2011

A visit to one of the World's Most Creepiest Places

There are some places in the world where humans quite simply should not go. Not just haunted places, but sites where ancient forces still hold sway. We can recognize such locations by the responses they evoke within us—that feeling we call “the creeps.

But just where are these places, and why do they terrify us?

This excerpt comes The World's Creepiest Places by Dr. Bob Curran currently out in stores.


Yamuna River, Delhi, India

“There are Officers Quarters in Mian Mir whose doors open without reason and whose furniture is guaranteed to creak, not with the heat of June, but with the weight of the Invisibles who come to lounge in the chair….”
—Rudyard Kipling, “My Own True Ghost Story” from The Phantom Rickshaw

India is a land of legend and mystery. Here, the lore and traditions of ancient days seem to blend seamlessly with the modern world. Ghosts are as much a feature of Indian life as they are in the West—perhaps more so. The phantoms of women who have died in childbirth, old men who have died from starvation, and children who have perished in appalling circumstances seem to appear with a kind of regularity, begging for alms or pricking at the consciences of the more well off. Arguably more than any other country in the world, in India the idea of the supernatural is more closely linked with a sense of justice and equanimity.

It is perhaps this sense of unequal justice that underpins many of the ghosts that haunt the ancient fortress of Salimgarh on the Yamuna River, which flows through Delhi—probably India’s most haunted stronghold. Far older than the neighboring Red Fort, Salimgarh has been renamed Swatantrata Senani Smarak (Freedom Fighters Memorial) and is now a museum. Even so, it still retains much of its ancient atmosphere and mystery. The lore attached to the site and the feelings that many visitors have experienced there are rooted in the building’s turbulent history.

The fortress was built on an island in the Yamuna by Islam Shah Suri (1545–1554) also known as Jalal Khan, the second ruler of the brief Sur Dynasty, which reigned over that part of India for part of the 16th century, and which expanded the town of Delhi as its capital. The Sur rulers were Islamic Pathans from Bihar who briefly overthrew the Mughal Emperors who had initially ruled Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Northern India. The second Mughal Emperor, Humayan, had started building up Delhi, but found himself under attack from the Sur rulers and was driven out of the town. Islam Shah Suri then built a fortress on the river to protect his newly acquired capital. The name Salimgarh simply means Salim’s Fort, and the place was considered to be impregnable and well able to stand against the Moghals. Although a largely ineffectual ruler, Humayan was determined to take back the town and launched a ferocious assault against it in 1555. During the various battles, many prisoners were captured and were taken back to Salimgarh to be tortured and executed. Their wails and groans can still be heard today by visitors to the site. By this time the Sur Dynasty was in upheaval; Islam Shah Suri was already dead, his 12-year-old son was assassinated by a rival faction, and the fortress fell again to the advancing Mughal forces. It was to become an army camp for the various Mughal Emperors.

During the reign of the powerful Mughal ruler Aurangzeb I (1666–1707), the so-called “Conqueror of the World,” Salimgarh was once again converted into a prison and a house of torture. Although a strong monarch, Aurangzeb was a despot and many of those who rose against him were condemned to languish within its sombre walls were they were subjected to horrific deprivations and abuse. It was said that Aurangzeb instructed his warders to wash the stone walls with the blood of those whom they had beaten and maltreated as a warning to all others who would rebel against him. Thus, the misery of the prisoners was actually ingrained into the very stones of the place and added to the chilling atmosphere.

The most frequently seen ghost within the fortress’s precincts is that of a shrouded lady who wanders across the battlements and is seen in the courtyard as well. Sightings of her state that she is always wrapped in white with glittering jewelery. According to local tradition, this specter is that of Zebunissa, Aurangzeb’s eldest daughter. She was said to be his favorite child (her name means “Ornament of the Throne”), a woman who was very gentle and a popular and accomplished poetess. In fact, 50 years after her death in 1707, her major diwan (a collection of poems) was discovered and circulated; it was said to be the most beautiful verse anywhere in India. Deeply religious, she was interested in Sufism (a mystical form of Islam) and much of her writing reflects this. She also gave up wearing grand Islamic black clothes, signifying importance at the Moghul Court, and took to wearing simple white garments, becoming known as Zaib-al-Tafari (Worthy of Praise) for her humility and devotion. However, the times in which she lived were greatly unsettled within the Mughal Empire and her despotic father had many enemies who wished to see him overthrown. One of those who conspired against him was Zebunissa’s brother Akbar to whom he was very much attached. Perhaps very unwisely she wrote him several letters of support abhorring their father’s tyranny all across the Empire. When, in 1681, a number of elements elected Akbar as Emperor, Aurangzeb moved quickly and viciously to re-establish his authority and put down the rebellion. In the course of his reprisals, he found the letters that Zebunissa had written to her brother. Although he had killed many of those who had stood against him or had been complicit in the rising, Aurangzab could not bring himself to slay his daughter. Instead, he had her imprisoned in Salimgarh from which she wrote to him many times, begging for her release. Each time her request was turned down and, hearing of her father’s death in 1707, Zebunissa herself passed away. However, her ghost remained to haunt her prison. According to some accounts, the phantom appears on the ramparts of the Fortress singing some her own couplets and enchanting all who hear them.

Somehow, however, certain accounts of her phantom appear to have been confused with some other dark Indian entity. When she lifts her veil, it is said, she reveals not the beautiful face of the Zaib-al-Tafari, but that of a hideous green-skinned creature with sharp and vicious-looking teeth. This may be the face of a rakshasa or a churel, both forms of Indian vampires (the latter being the demonic spirit of a woman who has died in childbirth—a common type of ghoul in Far Eastern lore). Such a countenance signals the doom of the viewer as the thing may well attack. The lady in white is to be avoided at all costs!

By the 1850s, the British were well established in India and in 1857 the powers and substantial lands of the British East India Company were transferred to the British Monarchy, in the person of Queen Victorian, ushering in a period of British Colonial Rule known as the British Raj. 1857 was also the date of a major mutiny of Indian troops often referred to as the Sepoy Rebellion or the Indian Mutiny. The causes for the Mutiny are very complex and had partly to do with relations between the East India Company and local taluqdars (rural landlords) who felt that Company agents were unnecessarily meddling in their affairs without fully understanding them, particularly the Caste system. The tipping point, however, was the use of cartridges for the new Enfield 1853 Pattern Rifle, which was used by the Company Army and contained many Indian Muslim troops or sepoys. The rifle barrels had a tighter fit and the gunpowder came in paper cartridges, the ends of which had to be bitten off to release it during reloading. These cartridges were coated in grease made from pig fat to protect them from dampness. Of course, no Muslim would bite into pork fat, as it would be offensive to their religion, and if the British authorities were to use beef fat, this would be offensive to Hindu sepoy brigades (since the cow was a sacred animal in the Hindu religion). Nevertheless, the British went ahead and issued some of the cartridges and, although they were subsequently withdrawn, rumors persisted among the native soldiers that new cartridges were secretly greased in both pork and beef fat. The situation came to a head in the Bengal Native Infantry, a branch of the Bengal Army in which there were already problems. The Mutiny spread across the Indian sub-continent and the British were forced to act. Using Salimgrah as a holding and interrogation center, they shipped Mutineers there for “questioning” which, it is believed, often involved physical abuse. The sense of injustice against religious beliefs and practices was overwhelming.

By this time the Mughal Empire had been so driven back by the British that the current Emperor, Bahdur Shah Zafar II only ruled a small amount of land around Delhi. Even so, he was taken prisoner by the British—he was captured almost beside Humayan’s tomb—and briefly held in Salimgar where he conspired with a number of the Mutineers. In retaliation, he was beaten and starved, and it is said that his emaciated and bloodied ghost still wanders some of the corridors of the old Fortress, even though he was later moved to Rangoon in Burma and was only there for a brief period. He was really the last of the Mughal ruler of the area and was certainly badly treated by the British during his brief stay. The sense of injustice follows his specter like a pall.

On July 8th, 1858, a peace treaty was signed between the British at the Mutineers in the town of Gwalior, south of Agra. Although the Rebellion was over, some prisoners were still held in Salimgarh, although the British Army used Lal Quila (Red Fort now in the Old Quarter of Delhi which had been completed in 1648) as their cantonment (headquarters for military forces/police) during most of the Raj. However, it’s said that Salimgarh was used as an intelligence post for housing political prisoners and rebels who spoke out against British rule. There seems little doubt that, like the Mughal Emperors before them, the British used torture deep in some of the rooms of the Fortress in order to obtain their information.

The Fort remained in British hands until the end of their rule in India in 1945. For the latter part of the time (1940–47), it was a prison that held members of the Indian National Army. This was a Nationalist organization formed during World War II in order to bring an end, by terrorist means, to the British Raj, and to drive the British out of India with the aid of the Japanese. These men considered themselves to be Freedom Fighters, fighting the oppressive British regime, and it is in their memory that Salimgarh enjoys its modern name. Their ghosts are supposed to wail in the cells of the Fortress each night.

With such a violent and turbulent history, is it any wonder that the Fortress is frequented by ghosts? Many visitors and those working late within the walls claim to have heard and glimpsed things—distant voices, shouts, and even vicious laughter. Usually, however, when an attempt is made to find the source of these sounds, they die away altogether. And if anecdotal accounts are to be believed, many people have experienced what sounded like footsteps which seemed to follow them, accompanied by a blast of cold air on their backs. Yet when they turn round, there is no one there. As with other ancient sites, visitors have felt unaccountable catches on their arms or tugs at their sleeves, again with nobody there. The sense of foreboding and anguish is very strong within the walls of Salimgarh according to many people—perhaps the terrible pain of the tortured has actually found its way into the stones of the place.

A violent history, an imprisoned princess, and torture chambers from both the Mughal and British eras have all contributed to the ominous traditions of Salimgarh. Is it any wonder the place is creepy? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Positive News of the Week

Chocolate Lovers have fewer strokes

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Real Life Jedi - pushing the limits of Mind Control

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56 year old Canadian Man finishes 
11-year walk around the world

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Challenge leads to a oil recovery method 
3 x better than existing technology

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Change in Book Cover

We are excited to show you the new and improved book cover for our February release -

What do you think?  We hope you like it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top 5 Spooky New Page Books for Halloween

As the Fall air cools and the darkness enters earlier and earlier, we encounter the perfect time for some good ghost stories.  Get your spook on with our Top 5 read picks for Halloween!

Fears are never so stark, yet so undefined as they are when we are children. There are monsters lurking in every dark corner, in the closet, under the bed, ready to leap out the moment the light goes off.  But not all the things that lurk under the bed and in the dark are only in their imaginations. Children lack many of the filters that adults have placed on themselves, so children have a heightened awareness of the world, normal and paranormal. Ursula Bienski delves deep into real children’s encounters with the supernatural, and shows us just what is out there, in there, under there, and what there is to be afraid of. Reconnect with the primal fears of childhood, and learn what you really saw.

Think back to where you probably heard your first ghost story: sitting around a campfire, hearing tales that might have been passed down and around for years or decades. Tales were told that were complete fabrications, tall tales and puffery; you’ve probably heard a few. There were also some very spooky, very real stories.  That's what you will find in Jim Harold's collection - these count as some of the very best from his program that will amaze, scare and mystify you.

You say you want more information on ghosts? You want the real stories of hauntings and investigations in spirits? Exposed Uncovered Declassified: Ghosts, Spirits & Hauntings has essays from some of the best known experts on the paranormal, taking on Everything from Poltergeists, to Animal Ghosts, to the classic Vanishing Hitchhiker tales. Real Experts lay out their cases for the existence of ghosts, and what you read may spook you.  This one contains all you could want to know about the ghosts out there in the world.

Dr. Bob Curran has investigated many of the mythic monsters that populate our pasts and imaginations.  After looking at Vampires, Zombies, Undead Creatures and Malevolent Fairies, Man Made Monsters delves into the truth behind the myths of Golems, Homunculi, Ancient Robots and the Frankenstein’s Monster. These monsters are made all the more scary to us since we have built them ourselves, and in our own image no less. Take a look inside this book to see images of creatures never born, and be prepared to shudder.

Jeff Belanger has compiled, and revamped an in-depth look into the history, folklore and legends of some of the most famous haunted locations throughout the planet.  What better way to spend the spooky nights leading up to Halloween than reading about the bloody battlefields, haunted asylums, prisons possessed of phantoms, and castles filled with ghosts? It’s perfect if you want to be scared, and doubles as a handy guide for some haunted vacation planning.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Campfire Essay Winner is "Herman"

For those of you who have been tuning in to see runners up to the Campfire Story Essay contest, Jim Harold has finally announced the WINNER on his website.  This story appears in the new book along with 100s of others that will make your next campfire event one to beat!

Click Here to Read the story for yourself and find out more about his podcast!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Weird News of the Week

Eternal Sunshine Molecules Affect Memory

Click Here to Learn More

Casino Offers Plastic Surgery Jackpot

Click Here to Learn More

Commercials Targeted to Dogs

Click Here to Learn More

Learning Klingon helps a Man Combat Dyslexia

Click Here to Learn More

Monday, October 10, 2011

America Pre-Columbus

Unearthing Ancient America contains a wealth of fresh, occasionally suppressed evidence documenting the tremendous impact made on our continent by overseas visitors hundreds and even thousands of years before Columbus. The disclosures presented here re-write the prehistory of our country and provide a dramatic panorama of the past you never imagined before.  Shared below is a story from Chapter 1 which covers Anomalous Artifacts.

Medallion Puts Buddhists in Michigan a Thousand Years Ago

In 1983, James Scherz, professor of environmental studies and civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), was shown a photograph taken by Dr. Pat Carmody, in L’Anse, Michigan, of an unusual medallion. About 1.75 inches in diameter, it had been found some 2 feet beneath the surface 55 years before by a man digging foundations for a building on the Lake Superior island of Isle Royale, near the Canadian border.

The obverse side of the object represented a man or statue seated in the entrance of a pyramid flanked on either side by palm trees before an audience of observers. The perimeter of the object was surrounded by 79 dimples. A hole pierced the medallion at its top, perhaps for a small chain to be passed through, allowing the coin-like item to be worn around the neck.

Although found in Michigan, the scene depicted on this medallion places its manufacture in medieval India.

Reverse of the Michigan medallion.

The reverse featured the image of a radiant lion holding a scimitar in its right, extended paw at the center of a heart with wishbone surrounded by 69 dimples. In a space between these and another 79 dimples appeared the raised letters of (to Scherz) an unknown Asian script resembling Tibetan or Indonesian examples with which he had a passing acquaintance. He guessed that the medallion “was produced by pouring some yellow metal alloy into a mold.” Unfortunately, its metallurgical testing was not possible, because the artifact had apparently vanished with its last known owner in 1986. All Scherz had to go on was the photograph. It particularly intrigued him, not only for its Asian imagery, but because of the circumstances of its discovery at an important place in the prehistory of North America.

Around the turn of the fourth millennium bc, Isle Royale suddenly became the center of a colossal copper mining enterprise that came to just as abrupt a halt 2,800 years later. From hundreds of pit-mines stretching for some 50 miles across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an unknown people excavated a minimum of half a billion pounds of the world’s highest-grade copper. No less mysteriously, this enormous yield disappeared without a trace. The mines lay mostly dormant throughout the following centuries, until they were reopened from ad 900 to ad 1300.  Professor Scherz wondered if the strange medallion could have had something to do with Isle Royale’s prehistoric miners, long suspected (at least by unconventional investigators) of overseas’ origins.

Beginning in the late 1980s, he republished a drawing of the missing item in several papers. Nothing was heard of it again until March 2003, when Mr. Paul Tolonen, of Tularosa, New Mexico, was shown a copy of Ancient American’s October 2000 issue. A friend pointed out page 38 of Volume 5, Number 35, which carried Professor Scherz’s illustration of the medallion. Recognizing the object, Mr. Tolonen telephoned Ancient American publisher Wayne May to explain that, in 1929, his uncle found the medallion, and, before his death, passed it on to Paul, who still owns it. The vanished artifact had resurfaced! Mr. Tolonen was kind enough to share with our readers a recent photograph of the object, the first ever published of the Isle Royale find.

But what does it mean? Is it an authentically ancient discovery, or a modern souvenir of some kind? If it is genuinely prehistoric, how did it get to a remote island in Lake Superior? How old is it, and from where did it come? What is the significance of its imagery? When Professor Scherz showed the Carmody photograph to university colleagues, they dismissed the medallion it depicted as a “coin made by modern Masons.” To confirm their opinion, he contacted several Masonic scholars, who assured him it was under no circumstances associated with Freemasonry.

Some students in his class from various Asian lands agreed that the figure seated in the pyramid’s entrance was unquestionably Buddha. “Raj, a PhD student in surveying from Nepal, where Buddha was born, recognized the letters,” Professor Scherz recalled, “and translated the script [on the medallion] as pertaining to some honored leader. But there are no palm trees [as depicted on the face of the object] in Nepal. When shown to Tibetan monks associated with the Dalai Lama visiting Madison in 1989, they themselves could not read the ancient script, but said that the piece was likely made at the great Buddhist temple at Borobudor, in Java.” About 10 years later, a pair of Maya elders visited Wisconsin, and Professor Scherz took the opportunity to show them the Carmody photograph. “Although the more knowledgeable elder could speak no English, he immediately responded through an interpreter that the piece was a temple medallion from Borobudor.”

A comparison of the minted image reveals that it was obviously meant to portray the pyramidal stepped temple of Borobudor, the Temple of Niches, as recognized by the Tibetan monks and Maya elders. The structure is actually a stupa, the ritual center of a monastery, monumentally expanded into five square and four circular terraces rising one upon the other to form a three-dimensional mandala, or cosmic diagram. Its location in tropical Java explains the presence of palm trees depicted on the temple medallion.

The reverse is more difficult to interpret. The lion with rays streaming from his back, a scimitar in his raised, right paw, is a political symbol traditionally associated with royal families from old Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka) across southeast Asia. The heart-and-wishbone containing insignia indicates that the royal family is someone’s “heart’s desire.” Partially decipherable script surrounding this emblem appears to describe Raj’s “honored leader” as a Buddhist from Borobudor. The medallion may have been issued as a commemorative device to worshippers at the great temple he patronized with financial support. Whoever originally possessed the artifact must have come from Java. But when did he or she arrive in North America? According to Professor Scherz, “the coin could not have been made before 200 bc, for about this time Buddha was first represented in statue form by missionaries who took Buddhism to China, Southeast Asia, and islands such as Java. Before that date, Buddha was symbolically represented by lattice-like gates.” Buddhism did not predominate in Java until the ninth century.

In American Discovery (218), Dr. Gunnar Thompson reproduces a relief carving from Borobudor’s Temple of the Niches dated to this period. It shows a three-masted ocean-going galley about 100 feet long. According to Thompson, “Buddhist records of a fifth-century pilgrimage from Ceylon to Java report vessels large enough to carry 200 passengers.... It was not unusual for [ninth-century] crews to sail thousands of miles on the Indian Ocean. Pacific crossings, though hazardous, were not beyond the capability of either ships or seamen” (220, 221).

Actually, the temple building depicted on the Tolonen medallion is not Borobudor’s Temple of the Niches, but the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in northeastern India. This proper identification is important, because it makes sense of the Buddha figure prominently portrayed on the token: the Mahabodhi Temple marks the place where the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, achieved enlightenment. “Mahabodhi” refers to the bodhi or pipal tree under which he reached illumination, and is the most important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world; hence, the crowd of robed figures and the prominence given to trees depicted on the token.

The temple was completed during the seventh century ad, but has been subsequently embellished and renovated. Although the structure depicted on the Tolonen Medallion is unmistakably the Mahabodhi Temple, it differs markedly from the building as it appears today. Missing is the stupa, a bell-like shrine added to its summit sometime in the early 16th century ad. The Isle Royale object could only have been minted before the stupa was put in place, and therefore brought to Michigan in pre-Columbian times. Our conclusion is underscored by an archaic script on the token’s obverse side. Professor James Scherz’s foreign exchange student from Nepal, the Buddha’s birthplace, had difficulty reading the script, and was only just able to effect a loose translation, indicating significant change in the written language throughout the course of several centuries. Linguistic and architectural considerations join local prehistory to suggest that the Isle Royale object was manufactured between ad 750, when the Mahabodhi Temple was completed, and 1300. An early 14th-century speculation is inferred for the end of our date parameters, because that period marks the final termination of copper mining at Isle Royale in pre-Columbian times.

A duplicate of Mahabodhi was built in Pagan, the old capital of Burma, during the late 12th century ad, but this is not the same structure appearing on the Tolonen Medallion. Its reverse features a lion-with-sword symbol historically associated with India.

The artifact appears to be an authentic medallion or token issued by some royal patron of the Mahabodhi Temple. Perhaps a Buddhist missionary brought it from India to Isle Royale, where it was lost sometime between ad 900 and ad 1300, a period framing the last epoch of the Upper Peninsula’s copper-mining enterprise. Bodh Gaya lies just 75 miles from the Ganges River, which connects to the Bay of Bengal, allowing access for a transoceanic traveler.

If our conclusion, based on the Tolonen Medallion’s internal evidence and contemporary Michigan history, is correct, it establishes that seafarers from the distant subcontinent were visiting North America’s source of mineral wealth long before Columbus was born. Such a scenario is not altogether far-fetched. Professor Scherz’s Nepalese student, Raj, told him that, “another name for Buddha in his country was Fue. When Catholic missionaries came to the Athapaskan Indians of Canada, the natives tried to tell the French that they were followers of Fue. The missionaries described the Athapaskans as Gente de Fue (“People of Fue,” not knowing what Fue meant). Other native peoples similarly referred to as Gente de Fue are also found in French monastery records from the 1600s, as far south as Greenbay, Wisconsin. But the wars between the Protestant British and Catholic French in the 1600s (really part of the Thirty Years War in Europe) erased any further reference to the Fue in the region.”
Among the most vilified evidence for overseas visitors in the Upper Midwest during the fifth century are several thousand clay tablets dismissed by conventional archaeologists since the 1800s as part of a transparent hoax. But when a particularly intriguing example fell into the hands of David Allen Deal, the entire collection was suddenly cast in a new light.

Deal was especially qualified to examine a particular example of what seemed to be an astronomical device of some kind, because he had already determined that an ancient carving in Colorado signified a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction on August 8, ad 471, as published in Celtic America (Appendix A, page 268). Another book, In Plain Sight, described his interpretation of an Arkansas petroglyph that again defined a conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, this time adjacent to the star Wasat in the constellation of Gemini, as it appeared on March 30, ad 710. His conclusion was verified by computer experts, one of whom remarked, “Nothing we found disputed Deal’s proposals.”

David Deal is a practicing, professional artist and designer, a fact that, he says, has done “nothing to detract from my ability to interpret design and intent. In fact, that is what I am paid to do, to create such imagery and allegorical designs, designs that represent ideas, products, and themes graphically, sometimes with great subtlety.” Thus equipped, he proves that astronomers from the Old World were at work in America some 15 centuries ago.

The Copts whom Deal mentions were early Christians in Egypt, who blended Gnostic mysticism with the original teachings of Jesus. As such, they were singled out for special persecution by the Roman Church around ad 400, when some Copts fled for their lives into foreign lands. Their descendants still flourish in modern Egypt.
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