Found this article on The New York Times website. It talks about a Swiss neuorscientist who claims to have the answer to explain away the supernatural. He pretty much states that it may be all in our minds. Here is an excerpt:
So when scientists wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature that they could induce phantom effects — the sensation of being haunted by a shadowy figure — by stimulating the brain with electricity, it made perfect neurological sense. One could even argue that the existence of such sensations explains away the so-called supernatural. In fact, as The Times reported, the researchers promptly concluded that ghosts are mere “bodily delusions,” electrical misfirings and nothing more.
Click here to read the rest of the article. If you have time, stop by my new renter, YouTube Karaoke.
Andrea Allisonon Friday, December 29, 2006
Allow me to start with the answers to yesterday's questions:
1. Some say that if you take a lava rock as a souvenir, you will have streak of bad luck. Of course, there are different versions of this story. 2. The Hawaiian Goddess Pele is said to live in the volcano Mt. Kilauea. 3. Some believe that the lost city of Atlantis was destroyed and buried due to a volcano eruption. 4. The word 'volcano' comes from the little island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea off Sicily. 5. Earthquakes and volcano eruptions were also considered as giants wandering the earth.
Vulcan, The Roman God of Fire
Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire, was considered the blacksmith of the gods. Volcan was Hephaistos - the Greek god of fire and craftsmanship, named Vulcan by the Romans. He was said to have made weapons and tools for the other gods in his workshop at Olympus. Volcanoes have frequently been identified with Vulcan and other mythological figures. Poets attributed the smoke from volcanoes as to be from Vulcan's forge (volcano).
He was the son of Zeus and Hera - although some versions of his story state that he had no father, with Hera bearing him alone in retaliation for Zeus having brought forth Athena - Hephaestus was born lame and ugly, and his mother Hera hated him on first sight and he was cast out (story versions vary as to how). The sea-goddess Thetis found the crippled infant and took him to her underwater grotto. She raised him with the help of the goddess of Graces, Eurynome.
To regain his rightful place among the gods, he built a golden throne and sent it to Hera as a gift. Upon sitting on it, Hera was imprisoned by its golden arms, which promptly clamped her. To reclaim her freedom Hera had to extract a promise from all the gods that Hephaestus would be accepted into the Pantheon.
Pelee - Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes
Hawaiian legends tell that eruptions were caused by Pele, the beautiful but tempestuous Goddess of Volcanoes, during her frequent moments of anger. Pele was both revered and feared; her immense power and many adventures figured prominently in ancient Hawaiian songs and chants. She could cause earthquakes by stamping her feet and volcanic eruptions and fiery devastations by digging with the Pa'oe, her magic stick. An oft-told legend describes the long and bitter quarrel between Pele and her older sister Namakaokahai that led to the creation of the chain of volcanoes that form the islands.
Llao and Skell - Native American Gods - Crater Lake
Native Americans interpreted Mazama's violent eruptions before its collapse as a war between two gods, Llao and Skell. Shamans in historic time forbade most Indians to view the lake, and the Indians offered no information about the lake to pioneers who crisscrossed the area for 50 years without discovering it.
According to Indian legend, La-o was the chief spirit who occupied the mystic land of Gaywas, or Crater Lake. Under his control were many lesser spirits, who appeared to be able to change their forms at will. Many of them were monsters of various kinds. Among them the giant crawfish (or dragon) who could, if he chose, reach up his mighty arms even to the tops of the cliffs and drag down to the cold depths of Crater Lake, any too venturesome tourists of the Primal days.
Skell was a mighty spirit whose realm was the Klamath Marsh region, his capital being near the Yamsay River on the eastern side of the marsh. He had many subjects who took the form of birds and beasts when abroad in the land, as the antelope, the bald eagle, the golden eagle and others, among which were the most sagacious and active creatures on earth.
Now a fierce war occurred between Skell and La-o and their followers, which raged for a long time. Finally, Skell was stricken down in his own land of Yamsay and his heart was torn from his body and carried in triumph to La-o Yaina or La-o's mountain, the eastern escapement of which is the great rock rising above Crater Lake.
The men of Skell knew that if the heart of Skell could be restored to his body he would live again, and with a secret understanding between them, they awaited their opportunity. It was passed from on Skell follower to the next. Skell's heart was returned to his body, he lived again and the ware was resumed. La-o was himself overpowered and slain. His body was borne in triumph to the great rock, the cliff overlooking the lake near his own capital. A false message was conveyed to La-o's monsters in the lake that Skell had been killed again. The body was torn to pieces and hurled into the water. As each part of the body was thrown to the lake, the monsters of La-o devoured it. But when the head was thrown in, they recognized it as that of their own god La-o, and refused to touch it. So it remains today as an island known to all as Wizard Island.
Mount St. Helens
Northwest Indians told early explorers about the firey Mount St. Helens. In fact, an Indian name for the mountain, Louwala-Clough, means "smoking mountain". According to one legend, the mountain was once a beautiful maiden, "Loowit". When two sons of the Great Spirit "Sahale" fell in love with her, she could not choose between them. The two braves, Wyeast and Klickitat fought over her, burning villages and forests in the process. Sahale was furious. He smote the three lovers and erected a mighty mountain peak where each fell. Because Loowit was beautiful, her mountain (Mount St. Helens) was a beautiful, symmetrical cone of dazzling white.
This going to be my last post until after Christmas. If I haven't told you by now, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Stay safe!
I promised you all some more Christmas tradition origins and today I'm going to deliver. How many of you know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created as a promotional gimmick by Montgomery Wards? In 1939, the Chicago-based company asked one of their copywriters Robert L. May to come up with a Christmas story that they could give away to their shoppers. May used the tale of The Ugly Duckling as well as his own past as inspiration for the character and Rudolph was born.
Many people believe that Halloween is the day to fear the dead but winter solstice was considered a vulnerable time as well. The fabric drawn between our world and the world of malicious spirits becoming rent, allowing the harmful ones to slip through to perhaps claim a victim or two. It became custom to hold a loud, cheery celebration at that time, in hope that the din would convince the lurking evil that there were just too many humans gathered in this one place to take on. Charms and rituals became part of the tradition surrounding this party as a further way of protecting loved ones from evil.
Evergreens are symbolic of enduring and renewed life, which is why decorate our homes with them at Christmastime. The fetching in of green branches is a magical rite to ensure the return of vegetation at winter's end. Our modern day Christmas tree is the centerpiece of this belief. Homes were not decorated with only Christmas trees, holly and mistletoe. Ivy, rosemary, bay, laurel and anything else green was also used.
By tradition, Christmas decorations should not be erected prior to Christmas Eve, lest this visible proof of anticipation of a festival anger capricious forces. Evergreens especially (and that includes your tree) should not be brought into the house before this time. Comfort should therefore be drawn from the knowledge that greedy merchants who put up their Christmas finery in early November daily court the malicious attentions of evil spirits.
Ivy, oddly enough, is usually considered a bad luck magnet when brought into a home. (Growing on the sides of a house is just fine though; it's then considered protective.) According to superstition, ivy should never be brought as a gift to anyone ill, and of course all ivy must be removed from the home of anyone under the weather. During the holiday season, however, holly and ivy are "reunited" under one roof as male and female are symbolically brought together again. Perhaps holly's power counteracts ivy's influence.
Those born on this auspicious day will never encounter a ghost, nor will they have anything to fear from spirits. They're also protected against from death by drowning or hanging.
The custom of sending Christmas cards probably began with the English "schoolpieces" or "Christmas pieces", simple pen-and-ink designs on sheets of writing paper. The first formal card was designed by an Englishman, J.C. Horsley, in 1843. It was lithographed on stiff, dark cardboard and depicted in color a party of grownups and children with glasses of wine raised in a toast over the words "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you." It caught on because in England you could mail a greeting for a penny each. Now nearly 2 Billion are sent every year.
The abbreviation "Xmas" for "Christmas" usage is nearly as old as Christianity. Its origins lie in the fact that the first letter in the Greek word for 'Christ' is 'chi,' and the Greek letter 'chi' is represented by a symbol similar to the letter 'X' in the modern Roman alphabet. Hence 'Xmas' is indeed perfectly legitimate abbreviation for the word 'Christmas'.
To read more on Christmas Legends, visit: Snopes. You can also try your luck with their Christmas Legends Quiz. Since I won't be posting for a few days, let me remind you to head over to Scooter McGavin's 9th Green and wish him a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Andrea Allisonon Thursday, December 21, 2006
The position of my new renter has been filled by Scooter McGavin from Scooter McGavin's 9th Green. If you want the latest news about TV, music, politics and sports, check out his site.
Yesterday's post dealt with the Winter TV Schedule. I hate that some of my favorite programs, among others, have decided to split the season up. I'd rather see it in it's entirety rather than watch half of it followed by on going re-runs then the rest of it months later. Some winter programs have their good points. The 3rd season of Beauty and the Geek. I love the concept of this show but I sort of wish they would a switch, you know guys as the "beauties" and the girls as geeks. I wonder how that would work out.
Next on the post train is Hip Hop music and why it may be dead. I've never been a huge fan of hip hop, some songs I like while others I don't. So, I'm not the authoritative figure on why it is dead or not. Scooter's post goes more into detail about the situation better than I could explain it.
Scooter also has a poll you can vote in. You email him your top ten favorite songs of the year. So many to choose from. I don't know if I could narrow it to just ten. We'll see.
Take some time to see what else Scooter has to say about the above and so on. Tell him I sent ya!
Andrea Allisonon Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Did you know that Santa Claus has an evil sidekick? Children in Austria did. Every year Austrian children watch warily for "Krampus", Santa's horned and hair sidekick.
Krampus has been known as a devil-like figure that drives away evil spirits during the Christian holiday season. He appears alongside Santa around December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, and the two are still part of festivities in many parts of central Europe.
Boisterous young men wearing deer horns, masks with battery-powered red eyes, huge fangs, bushy coats of sheep's fur, and brandishing birchwood rods storm down the streets, confronting spectators gathered to watch the medieval spectacle, which is also staged in parts of nearby Hungary, Croatia and Germany's Bavaria state. Anyone who doesn't dodge or run away fast enough might get swatted -- although not hard -- with the rod.
According to an article from Reuters, these traditions didn't come under the spotlight until Santa was banned from visiting kindergartens in Vienna because he scared some children. I'm sure a lot of children have a Santa phobia but is banning him too extreme? Official reports have been denied but now only adults that children know can play the famous role and visit schools.
Now, an Austrian child pyschiatrist is asking for a ban on Krampus stating, "The Krampus image is connected with aggression, and in a world that is anyway full of aggression, we shouldn't add figures standing for violence... and hell."
He claims there have been known cases of "Krampus trauma". He said Krampus remained a popular custom probably because "there's a phenomenon of finding fear attractive," pointing for example to the frequently frightening, sometimes gruesome, plot twists in the classic fairy-tales of the Grimm brothers.
I can see how someone can be a bit afraid of him, but people are afraid of clowns too. Don't see anyone trying to ban them yet.
If a gruesome murder occurred close to where you live/work and you had the opportunity to sneak a souvenir, would you? Why?
My Answer: I never could understand why people have this compulsion to take "souvenirs" from a crime scene. It's like they don't have any compassion for the victims. You take something from the crime scene and possibly mess up the police's investigation. Why would someone do that? I'm sure this has happened quite often but I have heard about this twice: Villisca Axe Murder House and when Bonnie and Clyde's bodies and car was paraded through the middle of town.
I wouldn't do it. Matter of fact, I think it's a bit creepy to do something like that, especially if you intend on proudly displaying it in your home.
Andrea Allisonon Friday, December 15, 2006
I want to thank everyone who voted in the poll and/or left comments concerning my decision to start a blog at NuTang. I've decided to go ahead and try it and see what happens. At the moment waiting for my invite, if I get one.
This plug post is going to be kind of short and sweet since I'm kind of crunched for time. My apologies to my renter. I would like to introduce to you my new renter for the week from Tom Jackson Online. At TJO, you will find the latest UK news from harvesting gas hydrates to the tragic loss of a ten-month old girl who died from being severely burned by hot water.
First, it has been a pleasure having Rav'N here, but the lease is almost up. I'm looking for another renter at the moment. The rent is cheap, 30 credits. You get a plug post, occasional plus throughout the week and the option of a guest post.
I also make sure that the rent blog link is changed to your regular blog link after the week is over. Some have asked me to do that. So, I've made it a regular practice of mine. Special consideration goes to regular readers and past bidders who haven't rented space on Ghost Stories yet.
Next, posts here may be a little scarce this week. I'm going to be backing up posts on disk as well as cleaning up my blog layout a bit. Been meaning to do it for a while. I guess this week is as good as any.
Also, I hit the 200 post mark yesterday. I'm pretty proud of that. I guess I get to reminisce as I'm copying all 20o+ posts to a cd-rom.
Last, I've been thinking about starting another blog, a place to share my writing. I don't want to start it on blogger though. I've thought about trying NuTang so I can earn a little money blogging. However, I wanted to get the opinions of those who have/are using it via a poll. Let me know what you think of the site.
That's all for announcements. Have a wonderful day!
Andrea Allisonon Sunday, December 10, 2006
Piglet tagged me for a "weird" meme. I think this blog is enough portray how weird some people may think I am, but allow me to offer up some personal information.
First, the rules: Each player of this game starts with the "6 Weird Things about You." People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog!
6 Weird Things About Me:
1. My room stays pretty messy most of the time and it really doesn't bother me. However, if someone leaves a mess in any other, it drives me nuts to the point I have to clean it. I don't know why.
2. I have to know what time it is for no apparent reason. I'm constantly looking at my watch like every five minutes even if I don't have any plans for the day. I think that has to do with when I was in school. Most of my teachers didn't have clocks in their classrooms. I checked my watch constantly, counting down the minutes until the bell rang.
3. When I read or write, the room cannot be silent. The TV or radio has to be on or I can't concentrate.
4. I'm bit of a germaphobe. I don't have a severe case but I do wash my hands at least 12 times a day.
5. Sometimes I blame stuff on my brother even though he didn't do it. He's in trouble so much, no one can tell the difference. Plus, from what I hear, he blames stuff on me too. So, I guess it can be seen as a way to get even.
6. I'm borderline obsessed with candles. I love them, particularly aromatherapy candles. One day, I hope to learn how to make them.
Rav was kind of enough to share a piece of Malaysian history. Stop by Rav'N's Realm to see what other treasures you may find.
First off, I would like to thank Andrea for putting up with me for a week and allowing me to make a guest post. I was originally going to tell you about one of the more common ghost stories or legends that gets told around campfires and dormitories in Malaysia. But then I remembered the legend of Mahsuri. This is a piece of real Malaysian history that has a somewhat paranormal bent to it. This is how the story goes.
Around 200 years ago, during the time of the powerful Sultanates of the Malay Archipelago there lived a young woman named Mahsuri. Legend says she was the most beautiful woman in all of Langkawi. Mahsuri was the daughter of a local businessman called Padak Maya and the wife of Mat Darus, a brave warrior and son of the chief of Langkawi, Dato Karma Jaya. As was required of him, her husband had to go to war, leaving Mahsuri behind to fend for herself. It was during this time that Mahsuri befriended a young man named Deraman.
Fueled by gossip from Wan Mahora, the jealous wife of the village headman, their close friendship lead others in her village to believe that there was more to the relationship. Many versions of the legend claim that there were those who were so envious of Mahsuri's beauty that they perpetuated the gossip. Eventually the rumors grew strong enough that the villagers openly accused her of allowing Deraman to stay in her house. Mahsuri pleaded her innocence, but no one believed her.
Her father-in-law, sentenced Mahsuri to death at Padang Hangus, following the old Islamic punishment for adultery; Mahsuri was to be tied to a tree (or pole), and stabbed to death. Legend has it that those conducting her execution had to use a special kris (short dagger) as no ordinary kris could kill her. When they stabbed her, with her father’s kris, white blood flowed from her wound, signifying her innocence. With her dying breath, Mahsuri placed a seven generation curse on Langkawi. Some say the curse was that the island would experience 7 generations of bad luck, while others say the curse was that the island would stay barren for 7 generations, and yet other say it was a curse for 7 generations of tragedy.
Not long after her death, Siam attacked Pulau Langkawi and many villagers were killed and some captured by the Siamese. Mahsuri's husband, Mat Daruss was too heart broken and left Pulau Langkawi with his son to reside in Phuket, Thailand. Research has to date uncovered no less than 30 descendents of Mahsuri who now reside in Phuket.
Many locals of Langkawi believe the legend to be true, citing the Siamese invasion of 1821 and decades of failed crops that followed Mahsuri's death. It is only at the end of the 20th century, after the seven generations have supposedly come to pass, that Langkawi began to prosper as a tourist destination.
Maybe the whole story is true or maybe it has been romanticized somewhat. I can tell you that I visited Langkawi around the time the curse was supposedly lifted and we saw many of the locals rejoicing because they were finally getting some proper rainfall on the island, which they haven't gotten for decades. This is a tropical island that we're talking about. Whether that really was a heavier rainfall than they've gotten in a few hundred years or not, nobody can really confirm.
If you ever visit Pulau Langkawi in Malaysia, Mahsuri’s restored tomb at Padang Padang Mat Sirat is a popular tourist destination.
Andrea Allisonon Thursday, December 07, 2006
Today we remember the 2,403 (including 68 civilians) Americans who died and the 1,178 who were wounded on December 7, 1941 due to a Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. Much like 9/11, it is a day we will never forget.
Andrea Allisonon Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Rav'N's Realm is a wonderful place to visit who just happens to be my new renter for the week. Rav is a regular reader here. So, I'm pleased to welcome Rav to my site.
If you're into Comics, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Role-playing, computer games, etc., Rav'N's Realm is the place to go.
Drifting cars seems to be the current topic. Rav posted several pictures from the 2006 WA Drift Round 5 for Wordless Wednesday. I don't know anything about cars. I guess I'm one of those people who will sit and watch it as long as the drivers are cute.
Rav is also a poet. I liked last week's installment for Poetry Thursday. I've never really been much of a poet, but I do get inspired to write one every now and then.
Check out Rav'N's Realm to discover more. I promise, you won't be sorry.
Andrea Allisonon Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I subscribe to Weirdo News, an ezine containing unusual stories from around the world. There is one particular story I would like to share with you all that was in the latest issue. It raises a question about how traumatizing ghost stories can be.
A Taiwanese woman named Mrs. Chen has taken out an injunction against her husband to prevent him from telling her ghost stories, complaining he was giving her nightmares. She first applied for a personal protection order which was approved by a district court in Taichung.
They have been married for 20 years but separated a few years ago. The couple has two daughters, who both told a judge that he frequently traumatized her with macabre tales.
In his defense, Mr. Chen claims he is only relaying tales from his job working in an orchard. However, in Mrs. Chen's complaint, she states that he return home every few months in the dead of night in a drunken stupor to visit his daughters. He would then go on to tell her ghost stories about seeing figures clothed in white floating around, people hanging themselves and discovery of human bones near the orchard despite her pleas for him to stop.
I remember when I was a kid, I would scare my younger brother with made up ghost stories, but I never did it to the point he was traumatized by it. Do you think Mr. Chen went too far with his "work stories"?
Andrea Allisonon Sunday, December 03, 2006
The CPRI will host its 2nd annual Paranormal Conference in Richmond, Virginia on May 19th and 20th, 2007. There will be lectures and paranormal activities. Speakers include Troy Taylor, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Spirit Medium Barb Mallon, John Zaffis, L.B. Taylor and many other prominent researchers.
For more information on speakers, location, schedule of events and ticket prices, visit the CPRI Conference website.
Since today is the first day of December, I thought why not kick it off with a special Did Ya Know Friday. Ever wonder where your favorite Christmas traditions come from? You'd be surprised at how many are tied to superstitions.
Let's start off with the Yule log. Buying one was considered unlucky. So, you either had to be lucky enough to find one on your own land or get one from a neighbor. First, you fetch the carefully-preserved scrap of the previous year's log from under the homeowner's bed. The new log had to catch fire during the first attempt at lighting it. If it didn't, it was considered a sign of misfortune coming to the family. It also had to be done with clean hands. Lighting a log with dirty hands was a sign of disrespect. Once lit, the log had to be kept burning for twelve hours and could not be tended as long as any scrap of the dinner remained on the table, or while anyone was still eating.
As the log burned, people told ghost stories and tales while drinking cider. Shadows cast upon the wall were carefully scrutinized, for it was well known that a "headless" shadow foretold the death of the person casting it within the year.
Concerning food, any Christmas cuisines could not be eaten before that day dawned for it would be unlucky. You were to visit and sample mince pies at different houses during the festive season so you will have happy months in the year to come. You also could not cut into mince pies or you may "cut your luck". If Christmas pudding is on the menu, everyone must take part in stirring it if the household is to prosper. Traditionally, one has to stir the mixture at least three times, seeing the bottom of the pot each time. If you were an unmarried woman and didn't stir the pudding, then you wouldn't be able to find a husband.
Those interested might try making a dumb cake at midnight on Christmas Eve. Prepared in complete silence by one or more, this concoction of flour, water, eggs, and salt is placed on the hearthstone with the upper surface of the cake pricked with the initials of one of those present. Provided the silence is unbroken, the future partner of the person indicated on the cake will appear and similarly prick his or her initials onto the cake. In some regions, a petitioner must walk backwards to her bed after eating the cooked cake, to dream of her future spouse.
It is unlucky to send carolers away empty-handed, no matter how badly they sing as one might be a king in disguise. Offer food, a drink, or a bit of money. Singing carols at any time other than during the festive season is unlucky.
Stockings are hung by the chimney in remembrance of the largesse of St. Nicholas. He was said to have tossed three coins down the chimney of the home of three poor sisters. Each coin fell neatly into stockings left drying by the hearth. We therefore leave our stocking out in hopes that a similar bit of good fortune will befall us.
And we certainly can not leave out mistletoe, had to save the best for last. Ever wonder why it is custom to kiss under the mistletoe? First, mistletoe, like holly, was considered a powerful charm against witches and lightning. At one point, it was said to be a cure for poison, epilepsy, barrenness and whooping cough. Traditionally, a man may take a kiss from a girl standing under the sprig, but only if he plucks a berry from the plant and presents it to her with each kiss. Once the berries are gone, so is the kissing.
Berry plucking possibly had something to do with the rumored powers of conception. Ladies looking to conceive are advised to carry a sprig of mistletoe with them. The gentleman who kisses and presents a berry from the plant to his lady is symbolically offering to get her with child.
A particular love charm tied to the mistletoe required a young lady to swallow the berry, prick the initials of her love in the sprig of leaf and sews the leaf to her corset so it would be near her heart and thus binding his love to her for as long as the leaf lasts. Though, I wouldn't advise anyone to do this since mistletoe berries are poisonous.
If you enjoy learning about these, I will have more Christmas tradition origins later on this month. Be looking out for those and pay a special visit to my renter atDead Silence.