Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
The Enfield Poltergeist has become infamous thanks to Ed and Lorraine Warren and “The Conjuring” films. That took place in a house in Brimsdown, Enfield, London England. But on the other side of the pond there is an Enfield, Illinois. Not as well known as the one in England of course, but they still have a horror in their past. One that took place four years before the Enfield incident in London… about a terrifying creature that locals who were alive at the time still get goosebumps talking about. (The Horror of the Enfield, Illinois Monster)
Complex family dynamics and an infatuated businessman ended in a murder that was covered up and remained hidden for three decades, buried in the grounds of the house at 10324 Canyon Road. (A Dark Secret Leads To a Death On Canyon Road)
One girl decided to go by the name of Lila, because her true name was Delilah but she didn’t want to be associated with that harlot in the Bible. The stories behind how people get nicknames can often be fascinating. So how do you supposed Margaret Dickson got tagged with the nickname of “Half Hangit Maggie”? (Half Hangit Maggie)
The search for intelligent life in the universe has been a goal for decades, with everyone from NASA to SETI to backyard Ufologists looking to the skies, listening to various radio waves, hoping to catch just a glimpse, at least a hint of what we hope to find. But could it be that we’re looking in the wrong place? Perhaps the extraterrestrial intelligence, the more advanced life we seek to make contact with, is not out there somewhere… but it is here somewhere… already on Earth? (There Might Be Intelligent Life On Earth After All)
Too often we are let down by those whom we look up to – and that goes doubly so for those in religious authority. How many well-known religious figures have toppled over after being exalted on high by the followers they so skillfully misled? Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart… but none compare to Major Thomas Weir – a strict Presbyterian known for his powerful prayers, earning him a reputation for being one of the most saintly men of his time. But then he made a confession so outlandish, so ghastly and profane, they executed him. (Confession of a Warlock)
If you look in a mirror and say his name five times, he will appear behind you, complete with a hook for a hand – covered in blood because his hand has been cut off. Isn’t that romantic? No? Well, Clive Barker’s 1992 horror cult classic “Candyman” actually began as a real-life love story. So how did it turn so gruesome and terrifying? (The Nightmarish Love Story Behind Horror’s Candyman)
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Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE NIGHTMARISH LOVE STORY BEHIND HORROR’S CANDYMAN=====
His right hand has been sawn off, he has a bloody hook jammed in the stump, and if you look in the mirror and say his name five times, he’ll appear behind you… breathing down your neck. It’s hard to believe such a gruesome legend originated in a love story, but that’s Candyman. Played by Tony Todd, the antagonist of the eponymous 1992 film was another terrifying creation from the mind of Hellraiser’s Clive Barker.
When Candyman premiered, it was a breath of fresh air for both slashers and the horror genre. The titular slayer is no mutilated nightmare monster or silent masked maniac, but a statuesque, poetic, and even sympathetic phantom. The plot covers intriguing topics like the source of urban legends, issues of social class and race, and the truly terrifying question of whether belief has the ability to manifest the corporeal. These themes were interesting enough to keep the franchise going with three more installments spanning from the ’90s all the way to the 2020s, and adding to his lore with every new film.
But that lore can get a little convoluted along the way, especially the parts that aren’t chronological. So here, let’s lay it out for you as best we can…
Far before the events of any of the films, and before the Candyman legend even existed, there was man of flesh and blood who was born in the 1800s. The first film does not name him, but does explain that his father was formerly enslaved, and newly wealthy from his invention of a shoe-making machine at the tail end of the Civil War. With this money, he was able to send his son to the best schools in the country and give him the chance to grow up in polite society, among the socialites of the day.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t actually until the second film, Farewell to the Flesh, that he got a name: Daniel Robitaille. The sequel fills in other details, as well, having him born at Esplanade Plantation in New Orleans shortly after the end of the Civil War – meaning he was born either during or very shortly after 1865.
Through his extensive education and travels, Daniel Robitaille not only became a charismatic and well-educated young man, but also discovered that he possessed a great talent for art, gaining him renown amongst the upper class. They’d seek him out, commissioning him to paint their portraits, which they’d hang as status symbols. It was in this way that he met Caroline Sullivan, the daughter of a wealthy landowner in the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago. His name is never mentioned in any of the films, but the credits of Farewell to the Flesh identify him as Heyward Sullivan.
The man had hired Robitaille to capture Caroline’s “virginal beauty” in his art, but little did he realize that during those long hours of portrait-sitting, the two would bond and fall deeply in love. Eventually, Caroline became pregnant with his child.
Once Heyward realized his white daughter had formed a relationship with a Black man, his hatred and racism came boiling to the surface. He hired a group of thugs to end the painter, as some neighbors joined the crowd to witness his doom. After a chase, his attackers cornered him, sawed off his hand with a rusty blade, slathered him in honey from the local apiary, and watched as angry bees followed and unleashed hell, endlessly stinging the man. One boy watching took a taste of the sweet, leftover honey, and called Daniel “Candyman” for the first time. The crowd followed, chanting the name mockingly.
Just before he succumbed to the bee venom, Heyward joined in the taunting, too, holding a mirror up to Daniel’s mutilated face as Caroline was held back by the crowd, screaming through her tears. In this moment of agony, Robitaille’s spirit was transferred into the mirror, leaving his cold body behind.
Caroline then broke free, making off with the mirror, never to be seen by the people of Cabrini-Green again. Robitaille, meanwhile was burned on a pyre, his ashes were spread across the area, and over time his story faded into legend…
While many of her neighbors believed she had taken her own life or simply vanished out of shame, in reality, Caroline ran away to the South. She ended up at Esplanade Plantation in New Orleans, the birthplace of her lost lover. Here, she hid the last piece of him, the soul contained in the mirror.
She also stayed and gave birth to his daughter Isabel, whom she raised as white. With her fair skin, the little girl easily passed, and the family line continued with no outsiders knowing its true lineage. In fact, the family itself eventually lost this knowledge. Within a few generations, Annie Tarrant, the protagonist of Farewell to the Flesh was born and raised in this very house, with no clue that Isabel was her grandmother, or Candyman her great-grandfather. When she later moved out, the house fell to ruin and vandals.
As the story of Daniel became the story of Candyman, the bloody stump gained a hook, the bees became an omen of his ghost’s arrival, and chanting his name into a mirror – like the taunts of the crowd – became his summoning spell. The third film, Day of the Dead, even specified that the crowd chanted his name five times before he succumbed to his stings. Over the years, his place of passing, Cabrini-Green, became a ghetto, and residents blamed their misfortunes on his vengeful ghost.
Then, in 1992, after particularly harsh year of 26 slayings in the area, his legend started to leak out to the rest of the world. Newspapers reported the latest slaying of one Ruthie Jean in great detail, noting how she called 911 to report a stranger coming through her bathroom mirror. It was her case that caught the attention of Helen Lyle, a graduate student writing her thesis on urban legends. This is the start of the first film.
With a new focus on Candyman specifically, Helen’s actions during her research ended up discrediting his existence. Her thesis claimed that his myth was nothing more than a coping device for the stresses of living in the ghetto, and when she was bombarded by a gang member while poking around the housing project, police apprehended him and assumed he was responsible for the Candyman slayings, “disproving” the myth. But, just as she began to feel safe in her conviction that none of this was real, her hubris actually ended up summoning the real Candyman.
Candyman explains that he appeared to Helen because she discredited his legend, and now innocent blood must be shed to rebuild it. This manifests in his framing her for multiple slayings over the course of the movie, before making an attempt on her own life in the film’s final showdown back at the housing project.
Having kidnapped young Cabrini-Green resident Anthony McCoy (the infant son of Ruthie Jean’s neighbor, Anne-Marie), Candyman trapped the child and Helen in a pyre. He intended to take both of them out in a fiery blaze that would once again instill fear of him into the community’s heart. However, she managed to fight him off, and as he was consumed by the heat (seemingly defeated), she was able to carry Anthony out of the pyre. She used her body to shield him from the flames, sacrificing her life to save his. Unfortunately, in the wake of her passing, she got the blame for the Candyman slayings and seemingly became a vengeful, murderous spirit herself, gaining her own place in the local mythos.
It may have seemed that Helen defeated Candyman in 1992, but just three years later, more gruesome slayings in the style of Canydman (targets found sliced up with a hook) began to occur… this time in New Orleans.
Here entered schoolteacher Annie Tarrant, the previously mentioned great-granddaughter of Daniel Robitaille who grew up in his house of birth without knowing her roots. She refused to believe an urban legend was responsible for so much misery, and even said Candyman’s name the requisite five times in a mirror in front of her class to prove her disbelief and assuage their fears. Unfortunately for her, the summons worked, and on the eve of Mardi Gras, the man with the hook returned.
With Candyman’s reappearance in New Orleans, we got the franchise’s first sequel, Farewell to the Flesh. Over the course of this film, Candyman showed he had no qualms about targeting his own family, as he took the lives of both of Annie’s parents (his grandchildren), Annie’s husband (who had recently conceived his great-great-granddaughter with Annie) and caused the demise of her brother (his great-grandson). Essentially, Annie became his last remaining descendant, and he made it clear he intended to dispatch her, as well, his ultimate goal being to reunite the entire bloodline in the afterlife.
It took her some time, but she eventually uncovered not only the truth about her past, but also that the mirror Caroline hid away all those years ago remained in the basement of Esplanade Plantation. It was also said by Candyman himself to be the source of his strength. So, when he made his plans clear, she broke it, ostensibly destroying him… or at least one can hope.
Additionally, after she broke the mirror in a climactic flooding scene in the basement of the Esplanade mansion, the house that birthed the legend was essentially washed away.
The final scene of Farewell to the Flesh flashes forward an unspecified amount of time to reveal that Annie later gave birth to a baby girl. She looks to be around 5 years of age, so it could be estimated the year is somewhere around 2000. Annie named her Caroline (very likely after her great-great-grandmother) and even showed her pictures of her old family in a scrapbook, including images of Isabel, Caroline (senior), and Daniel himself.
Perhaps she did this to spare her child the troubles she herself went through as a result of not knowing her heritage. The third film in the franchise, Day of the Dead actually reveals that Annie intended for Caroline to destroy the myth with the knowledge of reality. But it backfired almost immediately.
At the end of this film, young Caroline tries to summon Daniel in the mirrors of her toys before Annie stops her, and sometime between this film and the next, Annie develops dementia and accidentally ressurects Candyman by calling his name and giving her life to him, starting yet another generation’s splatter fest.
25 years after the events of Farewell to the Flesh, Annie’s daughter Caroline McKeever (the last name being her father’s) moved to LA and inherited a collection of original paintings by Daniel Robitaille. She respected the history of the pieces, and wished to attribute them to the man rather than a monster, but sadly, the gallery in which she exhibited them couldn’t help but market the exhibition using the Candyman name, especially with Dia de Muertos just around the corner. Frustrated with their capitalization on this, she summoned him in the mirror in front of a room full of patrons to prove that the myth is merely that.
Of course, we’ve learned by now how that turns out.
After yet another slashing spree, this time on the eve of the titular Day of the Dead, Candyman made clear that it was still his goal to see his bloodline reunited in the afterlife, Caroline included. But, after quite a bit of screaming and running in circles – it wasn’t the best or most beloved film in the franchise, to put it lightly – she managed to outmaneuver the vengeful spirit of her ancestor. She took a hook to his self-portrait, realizing the slashes she made on the painting also appeared on his body, and used this connection to take him down. She also pinned the slayings he had commited (and framed her for) on a detective who was hunting her down for her perceived offenses in order to further subtract from his legacy.
Once again he lays dormant. But who knows for how long?
After the unenthusiastic reception of the third, straight-to-video film in the franchise, one might have believed Candyman was really dead after all. But surprise, surprise, in 2021, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman was finally ready to hit theaters. The story follows an artist by a familiar name: Anthony McCoy.
Yes, that same Anthony McCoy whom Helen saved from Candyman’s clutches all those years ago has now grown up, and is as successful an artist as Daniel Robitaille himself ever was. More importantly, he’s traveling back to where it all started: Chicago’s own Cabrini-Green.
Coming up next on Weird Darkness…
One girl decided to go by the name of Lila, because her true name was Delilah but she didn’t want to be associated with that harlot in the Bible. The stories behind how people get nicknames can often be fascinating. So how do you supposed Margaret Dickson got tagged with the nickname of “Half Hangit Maggie”? We’ll find out!
But first… The Enfield Poltergeist has become infamous thanks to Ed and Lorraine Warren and “The Conjuring” films. That took place in a house in Brimsdown, Enfield, London England. But on the other side of the pond there is an Enfield, Illinois. Not as well known as the one in England of course, but they still have a horror in their past. One that took place four years before the Enfield incident in London… about a terrifying creature that locals who were alive at the time still get goosebumps talking about.
STORY: THE HORROR OF THE ENFIELD, ILLINOIS MONSTER=====
The Enfield Horror, not to be confused with the Enfield Haunting that inspired The Conjuring 2, is a cryptid observed by several people in 1973. Also known as the Enfield Monster, this disturbing looking beast makes its home in Enfield, Illinois. This tiny village boasts fewer than 600 residents today, a population drop of approximately 200 people since the beast made its first appearance. Perhaps what happened in Enfield back in the ’70s was terrifying enough to convince people to move away and never come back. The beast’s own appearance, as described by various witnesses, sounds like something most reasonable people seek to avoid at all costs.
Several people saw the monster, although many discrepancies exist concerning its physical appearance. Regardless of exactly what it looks like, enough credible eyewitness accounts and evidence appears to back up this story. In other words, the Enfield Horror just might be real instead of merely an urban legend, and may still be waiting in Illinois for intrepid travelers and cryptid enthusiasts.
The physical description of the Enfield Horror makes it sound like of the world’s oddest creatures, even among cryptids. According to eyewitnesses, the monster sports three legs, gray fur, huge pink eyes, two arms attached to the front of its body, and stands approximately four-and-a-half feet tall. Additional reports state the beast’s body resembles that of a monkey. At least one witness pointed out the body had a somewhat humanoid appearance. Despite its allegedly misshapen shape, the creature apparently boasts impressive speed and agility, and it screeches like a wildcat.
Although later accounts claim the beast appeared 30 minutes before in Greg Garrett’s backyard, Henry McDaniel was the first person to report seeing the Enfield Horror. McDaniel’s children told him of a creature scratching the house. When McDaniel went to investigate, he found himself face-to-face with the monster. Slamming the door as any sensible person would do, McDaniel ran to his gun. Next, he opened the door again to discover the beast still scratching and hissing. Out of fear, McDaniel aimed the gun directly at the creature and fired several times. The Enfield Monster responded by quickly leaping away.
On April 25, 1973, the Enfield Horror decided to make contact with multiple humans. A 10-year-old boy, Greg Garrett, may have been the first. According to his original police statement, Garrett was playing outside when he encountered a vicious, hideous creature. The Enfield Horror, unafraid of the boy, approached Garrett, stepping on his feet in the process. Garrett stated the Horror shredded his shoes, though police failed to find any tangible evidence in the family’s yard. Later on, Garrett told researchers he never actually saw a monster, and merely wanted to tease Henry McDaniel.
One of the things keeping most cryptid stories from becoming verified, or even seeming real, is a complete and utter lack of physical evidence. The Enfield Horror sightings, however, proved to be a different scenario. When police visited Henry McDaniel’s house, they found unusual footprints with six toe pads, along with some odd scratch marks on the house. This corroborated McDaniel’s story that the beast tried to break into his home. Interestingly, the footprints appeared in a set of three, with one being smaller than the others.
Surprisingly, even though McDaniel claimed the creature hailed from outer space, local police stated he appeared rational and sober during his witness statement. This almost certainly went a long way toward convincing other local residents the monster actually existed. When you combine this with Greg Garrett’s account, it’s not hard to imagine how Enfield Horror madness began to grip the tiny town. As a result, police ended up investigating many more areas where others allegedly saw the Horror.
The Enfield Horror must really see something great in Henry McDaniel’s property. A mere 11 days later, the creature returned and McDaniel saw it roaming the railroad tracks near his home. This appearance happened at 3 AM, and McDaniel only witnessed it because a neighbor’s dog’s barking woke him up. This time, he refrained from shooting at the monster and watched it instead. Eventually, the Enfield Monster ran off and McDaniel went back to sleep.
After all the publicity that the Enfield Horror received, three locals decided they wanted to find it, and WWKI news director Rick Rainbow joined them on the expedition. The foursome made their way to an old abandoned house, where they reportedly spotted the creature. Rainbow claims he recorded the Enfield Horror’s bloodcurdling howl that day. This audio tape was later given to a cryptozoologist.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman visited Enfield after hearing about the so-called monster. After listening to Rick Rainbow’s alleged audio recording of the Enfield Horror, Coleman went to Henry McDaniel’s house and examined the remaining physical evidence. While at the McDaniel home, Coleman heard what he described as “strange screeching banshee-like sounds.” The clawed-up siding, the audio evidence, and what he heard with his own ears left the cryptozoologist wondering if the beast actually lived in Enfield instead of merely in the imagination of a few residents.
A hunting party headed into the woods with the intention of finding, and presumably shooting, the Enfield Horror. Though they failed to accomplish their goal, all five men claimed to have spotted something gray running away, causing them to open fire. Later, local police charged them with threatening public safety and hunting violations, with the sheriff disbelieving their reports about seeing the creature.
As with any other cryptid story, many locals started looking for a rational way to explain an irrational situation. Some decided the Enfield Horror was a kangaroo, as a man did report losing one the year before. Others deduced the creature was nothing more than a wild ape. Additional guesses included a bear, wildcat, and a large dog. On the completely irrational end of the spectrum, some claimed the Enfield Horror was real, and was actually an alien, a failed genetic experiment, or a demon.
Do cryptids move or go on vacation like humans? If so, this might explain why stories of the Enfield Horror began to disappear just as a new creature, the Mount Vernon Monster, showed up in Virginia. People started hunting the Mount Vernon Monster in 1979 after its muted but disturbing wail began startling local area residents.
The Washington Post interviewed local game warden Ralph Stickman during the height of these odd noises, and he indicated they were absolutely real. Police officers even looked for the source of the nocturnal wailing, though they disbelieved the locals who reported seeing a creature that sounds a lot like the Enfield Horror.
So many people reported seeing the Enfield Horror during the brief span of just a few days it caught the attention of sociologists. While they may or may not believe the monster is real, the sociologists confirm a very real thing happened to every witness. David L. Miller and a team of researchers from Western Illinois University determined the Enfield Horror story grew into a social contagion. In other words, people became convinced they saw or heard something that wasn’t there because they believed in the creature’s existence.
STORY: HALF HANGIT MAGGIE=====
A boy had the same first name as his father and his grandfather. His father went by Junior, but the boy, the third generation, had no idea of his real name until he entered kindergarten as everyone had been calling him “Slugger” all his life to keep from confusing the names.
How people get nicknames can be very interesting – often funny. One girl was named Macy simply because her mother went into Labor while shopping at Macy’s.
One girl was thirteen years old before she found out her uncle’s name wasn’t Melvin even though her family had been calling him Mel all along. His name was actually Robert. Turns out the girl’s dad got mad at his brother Robert one day, called him a Melon Head, that got shortened to Mel, and it stuck. It went on so long even the grandparents started calling their own son Mel… and the guy introduces himself to people as Mel.
Nicknames often are created by children who are not old enough to speak well. Take Sarah’s family. She says, “My daughter Evie was called Easy Peasy as a baby. My niece couldn’t say Evie, she had a speech impediment and called her Easy. The peasy just followed suit. The family calls my nephew Cabub. His name is Caleb, but my daughter, who is only a week older than him started calling him Cabub around 18 months old because she couldn’t say Caleb and it stuck.”
But not all nicknames come to someone in a humorous fashion. Take, for example, the case of Margaret Dickson – known later in her life as Half Hangit Maggie.
Margaret Dickson was born in Musselburgh, five miles from Edinburgh in around 1702. Here she lived with her husband until he deserted her in 1723. Margaret had been married to a Patrick Spence* who by all accounts was a fisherman, since Margaret is affectionately referred to as a former fish-wife in most accounts. The disappearance of her husband is shrouded in mystery, some say he was press-ganged into the Royal Navy, others that he was lured onboard a fishing fleet out of Newcastle in 1723 and never seen again, as hinted at in the Musselburgh News of 1890. But no one seems to know for certain.
Either way, Maggie was left on her own and needed to find a way of supporting herself, no longer being able to rely on her husband as a bolster.
Where Maggie lived is open to debate and there are two towns on the outskirts of Edinburgh that lay claim to being Margaret’s home; Inveresk and Musselburgh, both of which lie within about a mile of each other.
It doesn’t help that these two locations lie only minutes from each other and are probably used interchangeably because of this. Either that, or Maggie lived in the middle of the two and no-one knew where the parish boundary was!
Eighteenth century Musselburgh had a thriving economy, not only due to the woollen mills and coal mines, but also in part to an up and coming fishing industry, which boasted its very own harbour at Fisherrow 
Musselburgh and Inveresk shared the same parish church, dedicated to St Michael. The church you see today however is not the church that Margaret would have worshipped in. Her parish church was a much smaller affair and was replaced by the current church in 1806 due to a growing population.
By the time Margaret’s husband had wandered off in 1723, the population of Musselburgh was probably hovering under 4500 – it was at 4645 in 1755 – and it was about to lose another of its population in only a few short months time.
By 1723, Margaret Dickson felt that it was time to leave Musselburgh and create her own life without her husband.
A lonely soul, history shows Margaret wandering through the streets of Edinburgh selling salt – the same occupation as Burke and Hare’s 3rd victim Abigail Simpson would do some 100 years later – or making her way to the town of Kelso in the Scottish borders.
Wherever she ended up, Maggie soon found herself working in an Inn, and becoming closer and closer to the landlord’s son.
Within the space of twelve months, Margaret had given birth to a baby boy.
So what was Maggie’s crime?
As a whole, accounts seem to agree that Maggie Dickson, aged 23 and formerly of Musselburgh concealed the birth of her infant son. There is some doubt as to whether her son was born alive or died some days later, but Margaret kept quiet about the birth, worried that she’d lose her position at the Inn.
Anxious as to what steps to take next, Maggie tried to conceal the birth, and subsequent death of her child by carefully wrapping up his lifeless body and placing him on the banks of the River Tweed.
When the child’s body was discovered a few days later, washed up on a river bank further downstream at Maxwellheugh, everything was pointing back to Margaret, suggesting that she’d concealed the birth of her now dead infant.
Swiftly arrested, Maggie was taken back to Edinburgh and placed in either Edinburgh jail or the Tollbooth to await her trial.
The trial of Margaret Dickson took place in Edinburgh and it is thought that she was tried under the Concealment of Pregnancy Act, although this is not known for certain.
An inquest was carried out on her son’s body to try to determine whether or not he’d been born alive. The surgeon involved made the usual experiments, trying to see if the child’s lungs had drawn breath before they’d reached the water.
The surgeon deposed, that when the lungs of the child were put into water they swimmed, so that it was their opinion that it had breathed; for as they said, unless a child has breathed, so as air could be drawn into the lungs those parts of the body will not swim.
Despite this test being unreliable, and despite Maggie protesting her innocence, the jury found her guilty and on August 6, sentenced her to death the following month.
Why Is Maggie Dickson Called Half Hangit Maggie ?
Maggie’s unusual nickname comes from her remarkable recovery after being ‘half hanged’ on the gallows in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket on 2 September 1724. After being jostled back to life in the back of a cart on her way to Musselburgh.
At the gallows on that September day, a few things are said to have occurred which could have possibly led to the failed hanging of Maggie Dickson.
Before we go any further however, a quick word about the dates of the event itself. There are numerous suggestions out there, some missing the mark by only a few days, others by a few years.
The most outlandish suggestion, apart from the account in the book ‘The Particulars of the Life, Trial, Character and Behaviour of Margaret Dickson’, is that the trial took place in 1791, almost thirty years AFTER Margaret’s supposed death (her second death that is – her final one).
One of the main factors in her survival was perhaps to do with a conversation between Maggie and the hangman himself, Jock Dalgleish.
Legend has it that the Jock tied the noose just that little bit looser around Maggie’s neck that day, just enough for her to get her fingers through and to stop it tightening around her throat.
Whether the conversation took place in Maggie’s cell before her execution, or at the top of the ladder at which Maggie stood before she was pushed off is debatable – as is that fact whether a conversation ever happened at all.
And so it was, with Maggie standing on a bucket – or a ladder, it depends which version you read – with a noose around her neck, the hangman gave one quick shove and Maggie was launched into eternity. Well nearly.
What happened next was a scene all too familiar at the gallows in Eighteenth century Scotland.
A rush of medical students, friends and family made a beeline for Margaret’s hanging body and all started to pull and tug at her legs.
The reason for this was twofold, first to hasten death. Early hanging techniques were notorious for strangling the accused rather than snapping the neck and so ‘pulling your leg’ not only hasten death, but also gave us the origin of the phrase we use today. The phrase ‘kick the bucket’ can also trace its origins back to the gallows.
The second more sinister reason was to lay claim to Margaret’s body.
With the legal supply of cadavers being in extremely short supply for Edinburgh’s medical students, tussels at the gallows were commonplace between medical students and family/ friends of the deceased.
Students wanted to lay claim to a cadaver that they thought was legally available to them, while relatives were anxious to give the accused a Christian burial.
When Half Hangit Maggie was swinging on the end of a rope, it was just at the beginning of the body snatching craze in Scotland, medical students were terrorising graveyards to secure a cadaver for the dissecting table and there wasn’t really much that got in their way.
With Maggie’s friends winning over the medical students, they quickly tucked her into a wooden coffin and placed her on the back of a bier to take her the five miles back to Musselburgh and her Christian burial.
Once Margaret had vacated the scene, a soldier in the Kirk’s Regiment spotted that the hangman had left a short length of rope attached – actually it was the halter itself – to the gallows.
In an era when anything obtained from a hanging – be it rope, clothing or other souvenir from the accused – was considered lucky, the soldier spotted his chance.
Quicker than you like, he’d scaled he ladders still leaning against the gallows and then, according to the The Scots Magazine he: “Seized the rope, and fell and un-nooosing it with his teeth; which his serjeant perceiving, fell upon him with his cane, and severely drubbed [beat] bim for his pains’.”
The route home took the party through Peffermill, on the outskirts of Edinburgh – past modern day Newington and to the east of Morningside, and it is here that events took a completely unexpected turn.
Having survived a hanging by hangman Jock Galgleish, Margaret Dickson was jostled back to life whilst in a coffin on the back of a cart on her way to be buried in Musselburgh graveyard.
The group of friends who’d rescued Maggie from the clutches of the students had paused for refreshments along the route, leaving Maggie outside in her coffin. Due to the risk of her cadaver being snatched by some cunning medical students, I have no problem in saying that there would have been someone keeping guarding over her coffin, hoping that an ale or two would have been heading in their direction.
Accounts say differently, however. According to legend, Maggie was placed in front of a window so she could be guarded from within the pub – but accounts of the story seem so blurred, that either event could be true.
Fortunately, one of the party saw the coffin lid move as he happened to glance in that direction, a soft moaning could be heard coming from inside. A gardener working nearby heard it too and rushed over and removed the coffin lid, giving Margaret some much needed air.
It is thought the jostling of the cart had literally shook Maggie back to life, an act of God that would eventually give Maggie her freedom.
A full examination by a local surgeon did indeed reveal that Maggie had made a full recovery. A lucky escape some may say and in less than an hour this remarkable woman, who had just cheated death, was allowed to walk – yes, you did read that right- back home to Musselburgh.
Maggie’s story only gets better and her near brush with death seems to be the making of her.
Having arrived on foot back in her hometown of Musselburgh, her husband, the one who absconded and started Maggie’s troubles in the first place, is said to have come home and rekindled his love for her.
How true this part of the story is, is unknown, but what we can be certain of (ish) is that there was someone who fell in love with Margaret Dickson, for it is said that she went on to have a number of children.
Her experience of working in an ale house had not put her off and Maggie is recorded in the annals of history as being an ale house keeper – in a town of your choice.
Her name does live on however, not only in the history books but also in bricks and mortar, opposite the very site where Maggie nearly met her end.
The Maggie Dickson pub, located in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket displays a plaque with Maggie’s story written up outside for all to see. I think she’d be extremely delighted to know that her name now lives on in the heart of Edinburgh City and that her story has made her an internet sensation and a tour guide’s dream.
Complex family dynamics and an infatuated businessman ended in a murder that was covered up and remained hidden for three decades, buried in the grounds of the house at 10324 Canyon Road.
Plus, the search for intelligent life in the universe has been a goal for decades, with everyone from NASA to SETI to backyard Ufologists looking to the skies, listening to various radio waves, hoping to catch just a glimpse, at least a hint of what we hope to find. But it could be that we’re looking in the wrong place? Perhaps the extraterrestrial intelligence, the more advanced life we seek to make contact with, is not out there somewhere… but it is here somewhere… already on Earth?
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: A DARK SECRET LEADS TO A DEATH ON CANYON ROAD=====
In 2007 the discovery of human bones in the backyard of a house in Puyallup, Washington opened up a 30-year-old case and exposed the dark past of the man responsible. Complex family dynamics and an infatuated businessman ended in a murder that was covered up and remained hidden for three decades, buried in the grounds of the house on Canyon Road.
In Tarricone: A Death On Canyon Road, available on Amazon, author Gary Leon Zimmer traces this case back to its roots. Presenting a book which takes a closer look at the backgrounds, relationships and actions of the individuals involved, Zimmer gives justice to Joseph Tarricone, a man who lost his life in a brutal act of violence for simply being in love.
Joseph Tarricone was a successful 51-year-old businessman who was able to live a lavish lifestyle and enjoy the products of his hard work. Zimmer describes him as charismatic, with “the most compelling personality and the tandem of genuine warmth and a total absence of hostility or arrogance gained him friends wherever he went.”
His meeting with a young woman at a lounge bar he often frequented in Alaska in 1976 would change the course of his life. Tarricone fell deeply in love with 24-year-old Renee Curtiss and enjoyed a short-term relationship with her, where he showered her with expensive gifts and gave her a well-paid job in his company. Renee’s mother, Geraldine Hesse, wanted her daughter to accept Joseph Tarricone’s proposal of marriage. This was a rich man who could provide for their family for many years to come. Renee however, strong-willed and independent, didn’t want marriage and she distanced herself from the besotted Tarricone. She returned his gifts, got another job away from his company and moved from Alaska to Washington, taking her mother and daughter with her.
In order to unravel this complex case, Zimmer has unearthed the history of the Hesse family. In particular that of Nicholas Notaro, the adopted son of Geraldine Hesse and brother of Renee Curtiss, who grew up fiercely protective of his mother and sisters, a trait which would later lead him to murder. Early chapters provide this background and lay the foundations for the criminal events that are to come.
In these early sections, the narrative in places is a little disjointed with a lack of dates to place events and some inconsistent organization of material confusing the timeline. Sections within chapters are headed with the names of the individuals being discussed which was not always successful in translating the jump in timeline or focus, leaving some areas appearing fragmented. However, the story being told grabs attention and encourages perseverance to reveal how these individuals became entwined and how their personal stories ended.
By 1978, Renee, her mother, and her daughter were living in the rental house in Canyon Road and Joseph Tarricone had not been deterred by the distance between himself and Renee. With his son living in Seattle, each time he visited he would also visit Renee and once again propose marriage. In late September 1978 after one of these visits, Joseph Tarricone disappeared. He stopped contacting his family, didn’t arrive for work and he left no clue to where he might have gone. Despite desperate searches by his family, Joseph Tarricone remained listed as missing as his case went cold.
Gary Zimmer has taken time to explore the details of the discovery of Joesph Tarricone’s remains 29 years later in 2007, and trace the path which led the lead detective to Nicholas Notaro’s door. In his first interviews with police in relation to Tarricone’s death, Notaro told them it was his mother Geraldine who had shot and killed the businessman, laying the blame at the feet of a woman who had died in 2000 and was unable to defend herself.
He soon retracted this statement and told a different story. “Nobody had to tell me to kill him.” He told police. “We went down to the basement, and when he leaned over, I shot him in the back of the head. I shot him twice.”
Nicholas Notaro was a violent man with a sinister criminal history, and Joseph Tarricone was not his first victim.
Vicki Lea Snyder married her husband believing he was a good man. He repaid her with two gunshots just 10 days before he used the same gun to take the life of Joseph Tarricone. By the time he was connected to Tarricone’s murder he had spent 7 years in jail for the murder of his wife Vicki Lea, and faced two criminal trials relating to child sexual abuse.
Part III of Tarricone is where this book really comes into its own. Charting the criminal murder trials of both Nicholas Notaro and his sister Renee Curtiss, Zimmer’s writing is engaging with a much more natural flow as the trials play out in blow-by-blow detail. Gary Zimmer attended both trials and is able to provide accurate details of both the proceedings and the legal questions which were being examined. The timeline is clear providing a fluid and clean narrative enabling the reader to become fully absorbed in the events as they happened.
In the trial of Nicholas Notaro in February 2009, Zimmer writes of Notaro’s defense attorney “She contends he had not killed Joseph but chose to offer himself as the killer, hoping to prevent the possibility of the women, one or all of whom might be guilty, being charged with the crime.” Notaro’s confessions to police, however, made in his early interviews were used by prosecutors’ again and again during his trial pointing to his responsibility and guilt for the murder. For Renee Curtiss, whose trial commenced one month later, the question for the jury was whether she was guilty of being her brother’s accomplice or entirely innocent of all involvement.
Notaro testified for his sister in March 2009. “I told mom and Renee that we could go get a chainsaw and cut him up,” he told the court. Words which did not reach far enough for the jury to believe his sister was innocent.
Both Notaro and Curtiss eventually paid the price for their crime and the truth about what happened to Joseph Tarricone after so many years came to light. For his family, who spent decade after decade at a loss at his disappearance, his betrayal at the hands of the women he loved was a difficult truth to comprehend. In telling this story, author Gary Zimmer has given insight into the tangled relationships of the Hesse family, the overbearing protective arm of Nicholas Notaro and the life of the victim, Joseph Tarricone, alongside providing an intricate account of the criminal system in action in finally achieving justice.
STORY: THERE MIGHT BE INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH AFTER ALL======
Unidentified flying objects (UFOs), now known as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAVs), have recently become a big topic of public discussion. These are objects that have been photographed, videotaped, tracked by radar, and spotted by high-ranking military personnel as well as civilians on the ground and in the air.
These objects maneuver and move at speeds that no known man-made machine is capable of. They truly challenge our understanding of aerodynamics and, in some cases, physics.
The next question that may arise is, are those operating these ships human or something else?
Based on my many years of research, we can say that there is strong evidence that these objects are real, even though they were considered a conspiracy theory for many years, but there is now strong evidence that these objects are not made by humans.
As for credible sources supporting this idea, Colonel Robert Friend, in his last interview before his death, who was director of Project Blue Book from 1958-1962, suggested that the U.S. Air Force already knew then what the objects were.
Lue Elizondo, former director of the Pentagon’s UFO program, recently gave an interview to the NY Post in which he said he had a meeting with a very high-ranking Defense Department official who mentioned that he knew these ships were not of human origin.
Former Air Force Colonel Ross Dedrickson also claimed to have information that these objects were not made by humans, and to his knowledge, these beings are benevolent and concerned for the welfare of our planet.
I realize that not all people will consider these sources to be “credible evidence.”
In addition to this evidence, there are such things as documented instances of observation or “contact. According to these cases, people report both benevolent and unbenevolent contacts, often related to the UFO phenomenon.
So, if they are not human, who are they? The obvious truth is that we don’t know, but there is nothing wrong with speculating.
Do they come from here?
Plato once said:
“And there are animals and people on earth, some in the middle region, others (elementals) dwell in the air, as we dwell in the sea; others on islands which the air rounds, near the continent; in short, air is used by them as water and sea by us, and ether is the same for them as air is for us.”
The truth is that much of our “reality” is not even perceived by our human senses. We can only see within a tiny frequency of the entire spectrum of visible light. We have to use special equipment, such as infrared telescopes and more, to see what we otherwise would not be able to see.
Quantum mechanics and the emergence of postmaterial science have shown us that there are “invisible” parts of what we perceive as our physical and material world that make up the vast majority of it.
Some, like Plato, called it ether, or air. Who is to say that life does not inhabit these spheres? They exist all around us, perhaps some of these objects originate there–or, as one might say, they are right here on earth.
Another interesting quote from ancient philosophy:
“And they let Apollonius ask questions; and he asked them what they thought the cosmos was made of; but they answered, ‘Of the elements. “Then there are four?” – he asked. “Not four,” replied Larkhas, “but five. “And how can there be a fifth,” Apollonius asked, “along with water, air, earth and fire? “There is ether,” replied another, “which we must regard as the material of which the gods are made; for as all mortal beings breathe air, so immortal and divine natures breathe ether. “Shall I,” said Appollonius, “regard the universe as a living being?” “Yes,” replied the other. – Life of Apollonius of Tiana, Philostratus, 220 AD.
Even René Descartes advanced the theory that “space” (what we perceive as empty space) is completely filled with matter in various states. There is reason to believe that he was executed by the church as his science moved into the realm of metaphysics.
Many ancient cultures have stories and texts that mention “magical” and “mythical” lands that coexist with our reality. Whether these places are real physical places or places in “another dimension,” for lack of a better term, has been the subject of much debate in various materials over the centuries. These stories can be found in ancient Buddhism and Vedic philosophy, as well as in oral histories passed down from indigenous peoples around the world.
According to Paracelsus, the German-Swiss physician and alchemist (like Issac Newton) who established the role of chemistry in medicine, in his Philosophia Occulta, translated by Franz Hartmann:
“Man lives in the outer elements, and the elementals live in the inner elements. The latter have their dwellings and clothing, their manners and customs, their languages and their own governments, in the same sense as bees have their queens and animal herds have their leaders.” The Secret Teachings of All Ages, An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, 1928, Manly P. Hall
It is also interesting that these objects are often observed entering and exiting the oceans. Sometimes when they “fly away” they do not seem to fly away, but rather to dematerialize. At other times, they “take off” with enormous speed.
The point is that there could be many different explanations for this, and there is the possibility that not all objects come from the same source. This really calls into question what we think we know about the nature of reality.
And it seems to me that we are now at an important moment to ask this curious question. Remember that there was a time when scientists like Galileo were condemned for the discoveries they made and the ideas they expounded. Are we really any different today?
How open are our minds to concepts of reality that do not fit within the existing framework of accepted knowledge?
It has often occurred to me that topics such as UFOs must be presented in the mainstream media before most will accept them as normal.
UFO footage must be verified by government experts so that the masses understand that these objects are indeed real. Less than a decade ago, the evidence for the existence of these objects was already very strong.
And yet the common people must be informed by the government or the mainstream media before the general public can understand that these are real…
Does this underscore how much humanity has come to rely on these sources of information? What are the implications of this? As with many geopolitical issues, it is difficult to trust the mainstream media or the government to get an accurate picture of what is really going on.
This is why it worries me that so many people rely on these sources when it comes to honest descriptions of the UFO phenomenon. Perhaps this phenomenon requires a civic initiative?
One thing to address with critical thinking is a government’s suspicion that these objects are of another country’s (a competing government’s) origin.
They will portray these objects as a threat, even though the vast majority of the time these objects are making evasive maneuvers to avoid our planes. It seems that we are the ones chasing them.
At the moment, all information concerning UFOs and the presence of extraterrestrial or other life on our planet continues to be presented as something crazy and inherent only to “people in tinfoil hats”.
And this is even in spite of the fact that the military department of the strongest country in the world – the United States, has publicly acknowledged the reality of UFOs and actually voiced the main idea – these flying machines do not belong to mankind.
But the U.S. continues to manipulate this topic, acknowledging the reality of UFOs and immediately suggesting that it may be “technology from China or Russia. No one believes this, but all the mainstream media broadcast this idea to the masses and the masses are ready for the military to increase defense spending.
The U.S. is not using the UFO theme to expose the truth, but simply to achieve its political goals. But even so, the U.S. had the courage to admit the existence of UFOs and the presence of extraterrestrial vehicles on our planet. In contrast to all the other major countries in which the subject of UFOs continues to be ridiculed in spite of the huge amount of factual evidence.
In the U.S., the disclosure of information about UFOs from classified archives, managed to make it public thanks to the activity of civil society. It is the public’s law-based initiatives that forced the U.S. to declassify some of the information.
Unfortunately, in Russia, the government’s attitude toward UFOs has not changed at all. Society is inert and does not file any lawsuits. The mainstream media exploits the UFO theme for one purpose only – to deceive, ridicule and profit. No serious study of UFOs in the mainstream media or government agencies is in question.
We can only hope that a radical change in the minds of ordinary people will happen and then, the government agencies will be forced to change the agenda and begin to openly study the phenomenon of UFOs, instead of pretending that it does not exist at all.
When Weird Darkness returns… too often we are let down by those whom we look up to – and that goes doubly so for those in religious authority. How many well-known religious figures have toppled over after being exalted on high by the followers they so skillfully misled? Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart… but none compare to Major Thomas Weir – a strict Presbyterian known for his powerful prayers, earning him a reputation for being one of the most saintly men of his time. But then he made a confession so outlandish, so ghastly and profane, they executed him. That story is up next.
STORY: CONFESSION OF A WARLOCK=====
In the 17th Century there were two rules for being a warlock. The first rule was don’t talk about being a warlock. The second rule was don’t talk about being a warlock. A minor corollary was don’t let your sister talk about your being a warlock. These are relatively simple rules to follow, but like most rules there’s always somebody who thinks rules are for the little people. Given, I hear tell that little sisters can be spiteful creatures, but one expects a measure of family loyalty in extreme circumstances, particularly instances where one might be burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, or otherwise adjudicated with extreme prejudice. Imagine you’ve lived a long and nefariously fruitful life of dark arts, devil worship, and debauchery, and find yourself at the tender age of 70 years old, a mere common cold away from shuffling off this mortal coil. As Voltaire observed on his deathbed in 1778, when asked by a priest to renounce Satan, “Now is not the time for making new enemies”. Well, Scottish anti-royalist soldier and posthumously famed occultist Major Thomas Weir (1599-1670), who had handily avoided the Edinburgh authorities for many decades by the simple ruse of being considered “saintly” by and cozying up to local Calvinist zealots, decided in the twilight of his life to unrepentantly confess to a long history of collaboration with the Devil, for which he was tried and executed.
George Weir, descendant of the ancient Weir-de Veres family, hailed from Carluke, Lanarkshire and was the son of Thomas Weir, Laird of Kirkton, and his wife Lady Jean (sometimes Jane) Somerville. He served in the Scottish anti-Royalist army until 1649, a year later obtaining the tony appointment as commander of the fearsome Edinburgh Town Guard, the city’s first police force formed after the 1513 defeat of the Scottish by the English at Flodden Field. Weir might have gotten a head start on his magical education, as his mother, in the few historical references to her, is given the appellation, “the witch” Lady Jean Somerville, owing to her reputation for clairvoyance. This would be the first and only clear sign that Major Weir had more than a passing acquaintance with the Dark Arts until his confession decades later.
When he retired from the army, George Weir took lodging in Edinburgh at the home of a widow named Grissald Whitford. A fellow boarder was none other than the fanatic Presbyterian preacher, tobacconist, and attempted assassin John Mitchell. Both Mitchell and Weir were Covenanters (a hardcore movement among Scottish Presbyterians violently opposed to Roman Catholicism). In 1668, Mitchell would attempt to assassinate the Episcopalian Archbishop James Sharp, who he considered the anti-Christ in all but name, failed and escaped, but was later recognized in 1674 by Sharp in the Edinburgh streets, imprisoned for a number of years, and ultimately hanged in 1678.
When Weir took up the command of the Edinburgh Town Guard, it gave him the authority to maltreat Royalists, which he did with extraordinary zeal, spending a lot of time abusing, hunting down, and jailing Cavaliers. His behavior was seen as a mark of the fervency of his Covenanter beliefs among Edinburgh Presbyterians, considering him a “singular worthy whom God had raised up to support the cause”. After about two years of commanding the Town Guard, Weir resigned (some say he was dismissed, but the Guard’s records don’t go back that far), and he settled, along with his sister Jean Weir, in the West Bow of Edinburgh’s High Street.
Prominent in any plan of older Edinburgh is the crooked line of the West Bow, which ran abruptly down from the head of the High Street, whence it formed the main thoroughfare to the Grassmarket in the valley on the south. Of this curious zigzag descent, which is said to have been one of the most ancient and characteristic streets in the old town, naught but the name has escaped the “improving” mania of our fore fathers. The Bow was long the peculiar domain of the white or tinsmiths, and so godly was the repute of its indwellers at the time of which we write, that they had earned for themselves the title of the Bowhead Saints. The denizens of this favored quarter must have hailed with holy joy the arrival among them of Major Weir, when, on an unascertained date, he withdrew his patronage from the dubious widow of the Cowgate and pitched his tent within ” the sanctified bends of the Bow (Roughead, 1913, p45-46).
While he never endeavored to officially preach, no gathering of Bowhead Saints was considered complete without his presence. Folks would seek him out in order to have him pray with them and reverenced him as “Angelical Thomas”. He wandered about Edinburgh dressed in black clothes and a black cloak with his later infamous staff (the significance of which would only be appreciated after his confession). There were rumors that Weir indulged in unspecified vices, but these were never enumerated and largely ignored, since he was regarded as a holy man. In the early spring of 1670, as Weirs’ health was failing, he appeared before a Presbyterian congregation which included a conventicle-minister of Ormiston and brother of Scottish mathematician, engineer and demonologist George Sinclair, author of Satan’s Invisible World. He began unprompted his confession to a life of mortal sin, wizardry, and compacts with the Devil. And at first, nobody believed him and attributed his confessional ramblings to delirium induced by his failing health.
In 1670 the Major was between seventy and seventy six, and a few quiet and safe years seemed his certain portion before he went to his honoured rest. Presently Edinburgh was startled by the report that he had confessed himself guilty of horrible and loathsome crimes and had with terrible cryings and roarings demanded condign punishment. The affair seemed so incredible that he was judged out of his senses—a theory still in favour with sceptical inquirers of to-day. Sir James Ramsay, then provost, sent physicians to report. His own sect also visited him, and a horrid certainty gained ground that the confessions were substantially true (Watt, 1912, p180-181).
So reverently was Thomas Weir regarded, that he wasn’t even initially believed when he confessed, and more or less regarded as a lunatic. For several months his confession was hidden from the public at large, attributed to his broken spirit as he faced his own impending death by natural causes. And if it wasn’t for his meddling sister Jean Weir, he would have gotten away with it too. When physicians examined him and found him to be mentally sound, and his sister (whom he had implicated in his confession) then came forward and began to detail a litany of sorcerous activity and moral depravity on the part of her brother, both the temporal and ecclesiastical authorities took notice. The Edinburgh Lord Provost sent the City Guard to arrest Thomas and Jean Weir, locking them up in the Tolbooth Prison. At the time of their arrest, Jean beseeched the Guard to secure Weir’s staff, declaring it “magical”. Since his initial confession, Major Weir had become introverted, obdurate, and generally unrepentant. On Saturday, April 9th, 1670, the Weirs were brought before the Justice Court, and tried together on separate indictments including incest, bestiality, and witchcraft. Jean Weir had a lot to say.
She had inherited, she said, her witch craft from her mother, together with an unholy mark upon her brow, which she exhibited to the ministers then present. “She put back her head-dress, and seeming to frown, there was Been an exact Horse-shoe shaped for nails in her wrinkles” — “terrible enough, I assure you, to the stoutest beholder,” says an eye-witness. She added that her brother having on one occasion “desired her to claw his back,” she found upon his shoulder “that which they call the Devil’s Mark.” Sir Walter Scott, by the way, borrowed Jean Weir’s horse-shoe frown for Redgauntlet, and bestowed the major’s name upon Sir Robert’s “great, ill-favoured jackanape.” Jean admitted that she and her brother had made a compact with the devil, “and that on the 7th of September, 1648, they were both transported from Edinburgh to Musselburgh and back again in a Coach and six Horses, which seemed all of fire, and that the Devil then told the Major of the defeat of our army at Preston in England, which he confidently reported several days before the news had arrived here”— a prophecy the fulfilment of which much enhanced the major’s reputation with the godly. Other accounts refer the major’s special intelligence to the battle of Worcester, with which, however, Jean’s date does not agree. “She knew much of the enchanted Staff, for by it he was enabled to pray, to commit filthiness not to be named, yea even to reconcile Neighbors, Husband and Wife, when at variance.” This latter property must have proved a valuable antidote to the major’s personal influence in the marital affairs of his flock, which tended rather in the opposite direction. She further confessed “that when she kept a school at Dalkeith and taught children” — how Mr. Squeers would have appreciated such “an educator of youth”! — a tall woman came to her house when the children were there, with the request that she should ” speak for her to the Queen of Fairie, and strike and battle in her behalf with the said Queen. This royal lady “is that very Mab” who, under the style and title of Quene of Elphane, figures for the first time in our criminal records at the trial of Alison Pearson for witchcraft on 15th May 1588. Next day a little woman came, who gave the schoolmistress “a piece of a tree or root” — telling her that as long as she kept it “she would be able to do what she should desire.” After certain necromantic ceremonies, not the least important of which was the delivery to her visitant of “all the silver she had,” the woman departed, and Jean, sitting down to her spinning-wheel, “did find more yarn upon her spindle, and good yarn, nor than she thought could be spun in so short a time.” Yet, despite this miraculous gift, the devil cheated her after all, as he did the major, “for her weaver could not make cloth thereof, the yarn breaking or falling from the Loom” (Roughead, 1913, p54-56).
Obviously, both were found guilty and sentenced to death. Major Weir was ordered to Gallow Lee between Leith and Edinburgh, and there, “betwixt two and four hours in the afternoon,” to be strangled at a stake till he was dead and his body to be burnt to ashes. Jean Weir was hanged at the Grassmarket of Edinburgh. The Major’s staff, upon closer examination was adorned with carvings of Centaurs, and it was noted that even during his life, he lost his usual articulate style of oratory when he was not holding it. The staff was summarily burnt along with the Major, and was said to exhibit some strange movements in the fire.
What’s confusing about Thomas Weir is not just did he openly confess to being a warlock, but he remained unrepentant about it even to the very end, so it wasn’t a very instrumental convention unless the object was to be strangled and burned, which seems a poor choice when compared with dying in bed. The question is, why did he bother at all, then? Maybe when you’ve been working with the Devil for decades, you figure on an honored seat with the Big Boys in Hell. Brand loyalty is surprisingly important to Satan. Perhaps it was a poke in the eye of the Presbyterians that previously revered him. Maybe he just wanted a little recognition for his sorcerous chops at the end of his life. He could have gone to his grave as a saintly religious figure. I see this as more of a warning about being prepared for your saint to be a sinner, for as George Orwell said, “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent”. And for heaven’s sake, don’t tell your sister.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, visit the store for Weird Darkness t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and more merchandise, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“The Nightmarish Love Story Behind Horror’s Candyman” by Linda Meyers for Graveyard Shift
“The Horror of the Enfield, Illinois Monster” by April A. Taylor for Ranker
“A Dark Secret Leads To a Death On Canyon Road” by Fiona Guy for Crime Traveller
“Half Hangit Maggie” by Suzie at Digging Up 1800
“There Might Be Intelligent Life On Earth After All” from Earth Chronicles
“Confession of a Warlock” from Esoterx.com
WeirdDarkness® – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, 2023.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.” – 2 Samuel 22:29
And a final thought… “You can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow.” – Janis Joplin
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.