“CURSED CARS AND HAUNTED HOOPTIES” and More Terrifying True Paranormal Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Have you heard of the “Death Positive” movement? Would you visit a Death Cafe? Would you join a Coffin Club? Why the sudden positive twist on what is typically so morbid? What’s so great about death? (Discourse At The Death Diner) *** When it comes to homes, the ghosts go bump in the night. When it comes to automobiles, do they go honk in the night? (Cursed Cars and Haunted Hoopties) *** Airline pilots in the UK are reporting strange objects in the sky. Not just one pilot, but several. And not just one UFO, but many. And the sightings were close. Very close. So close that they are being described as “near misses”. (Airliners Almost Crash Into UFOs) *** In today’s world, parents often worry about whether their kids are eating healthy and getting a good education, and in the case of long car trips, whether the children have their phones fully charged. It’s tough being a modern parent, but at least you don’t have to worry like Europeans did about your spawn being snatched by fairies. (Child Snatching Fairies) *** Two men go out for a weekend of elk hunting – and come back with the story of a creature so strange they don’t know what to call it. (Close Encounter at Pot Mountain) *** At a downtown Chicago church, people are turning up in droves – not for the preaching or the powerful worship band – but to see a painting of the Virgin Mary, crying real tears. (The Crying Madonna)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“Discourse At The Death Diner” by Marilyn A. Mendoza Ph.D. for Psychology Today: https://tinyurl.com/vd6ober
“Cursed Cars and Haunted Hoopties” by Erin Marquis for AutoBlog: https://tinyurl.com/r35gcjc
“Airliners Almost Crash Into UFOs” from The Bolton News: https://tinyurl.com/vsn8rer
“Child Snatching Fairies” by Tristan Shaw from Bizarre And Grotesque: https://tinyurl.com/u84989q
“Close Encounter at Pot Mountain” by Staci Matlock for the Santa Fe New Mexican: https://tinyurl.com/soo5l6z
“The Crying Madonna” by Cate Cauguiran for ABC7 Chicago: https://tinyurl.com/v4cv4sg
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OTHER PODCASTS I HOST…
Paranormality Magazine: (COMING SEPT. 30, 2023) https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/paranormalitymag
Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/microterrors
Retro Radio – Old Time Radio In The Dark: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/retroradio
Church of the Undead: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/churchoftheundead
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DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
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…
Have you heard of the “Death Positive” movement? Would you visit a Death Cafe? Would you join a Coffin Club? Why the sudden positive twist on what is typically so morbid? What’s so great about death? (Discourse At The Death Diner)
When it comes to homes, the ghosts go bump in the night. When it comes to automobiles, do they go honk in the night? (Cursed Cars and Haunted Hoopties)
Airline pilots in the UK are reporting strange objects in the sky. Not just one pilot, but several. And not just one UFO, but many. And the sightings were close. Very close. So close that they are being described as “near misses”. (Airliners Almost Crash Into UFOs)
In today’s world, parents often worry about whether their kids are eating healthy and getting a good education, and in the case of long car trips, whether the children have their phones fully charged. It’s tough being a modern parent, but at least you don’t have to worry like Europeans did about your spawn being snatched by fairies. (Child Snatching Fairies)
Two men go out for a weekend of elk hunting – and come back with the story of a creature so strange they don’t know what to call it. (Close Encounter at Pot Mountain)
At a downtown Chicago church, people are turning up in droves – not for the preaching or the powerful worship band – but to see a painting of the Virgin Mary, crying real tears. (The Crying Madonna)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
DISCOURSE AT THE DEATH DINER=====
Perhaps you are one of the many people who are not aware of a new day dawning in our relationship with death. The vast majority of us avoid death and seem to deny that it will ever happen to us personally. But, as they say, none of us will get out of here alive. We started having more open conversations about death and what happens afterwards in the 1960’s and 1970’s with the publication of such books as On Death and Dying and Life After Life. People began talking about death again and an interest developed to know more about the dying process and how to help the dying and their loved ones. This renewed interest has led to the establishment of the Death Positive Movement.
The Death Positive Movement is all about bringing death out of the darkness and making it something that people can share and talk about. It doesn’t mean that people want to die, but that they want to dispel some of the fears and taboos surrounding death. It is actually a way for people to have more control over what happens to them at the end of life.
They say there are two things we can count on in life: death and taxes. Just as we prepare for our taxes, we can also prepare for our death. It does not mean that we have to be obsessed with death as the Victorians were and make it the main focus of our life, but it is something for which we can prepare. The primary organization leading the Death Positive Movement is The Order of the Good Death. Its focus is on helping people accept that death is a reality and to plan for our eventual inevitability.
So what are Death Cafes and Coffin Clubs and what do they have in common? They are both examples of activities associated with the Death Positive Movement. The Death Cafe was started in London in 2011. Its founder, Jon Underwood wanted to, “create small gatherings where strangers could drink tea, eat cake, and talk informally about death and dying.” Death Cafes are currently said to be in 65 countries. They were brought to the U.S. in 2012 by Lizzy Miles. These free groups are not groups but are opportunities for people to get together to talk about death in a comfortable, confidential, and non-judgemental setting. Carrying on the English tradition, cake is always a part of the meetings but in addition, tea, coffee, water or soft drinks might also be served. Most are almost always well attended with some becoming so large that a new venue had to be found to accommodate everyone, ultimately needing to break off into two groups. It is remarkable to see so many people wanting to talk about such a “taboo” topic.
Another example of the Death Positive Movement is the Coffin Club. The first Coffin Club is said to have begun in 2010 in New Zealand and has since spread throughout the country. The clubs typically consist of older adults. They too are similar to a social club where people get together on a weekly basis. They build and decorate their coffins, share a meal together and offer camaraderie to those who are now alone in life. Initially, the clubs began as a way to counter the high cost of funerals, especially the price of a coffin. Self-made coffins are cheaper due in part to their simplicity. They contain no metal and can use reclaimed lumber and other biodegradable materials. The coffins in these clubs are said to range from $250 to $500 as opposed to the thousands of dollars funeral homes charge. Some members report that their anxiety has been lessened as a result of being involved in the club. Coffin Clubs are also found in England and Ireland. While at the time of this podcast’s recording, I was unable to find any specific Coffin Clubs in the U.S., there are, however, numerous sites online that demonstrate how to make your own coffin.
There is also a renewed interest in green funerals. This type of burial is about caring for the deceased with a minimal impact on Mother Earth. Typically, there is no embalming and the deceased may be wrapped in a shroud and buried in a shallow grave. It is as though what is old is new again as in the past most burials were done in this manner.
End of life Doulas are also an important part of the Death Positive Movement. Beginning in 2003, their numbers have grown exponentially and they have become an integral part of hospices and palliative care groups. The doulas are there to help the dying and their family before and after the death.
There are many more examples of the activities that are associated with the Death Positive Movement. For example, there is the WeCroak app. It is described on their website as follows: “The WeCroak app is inspired by a Bhutanese folk saying: to be a happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily. Each day, We’ll send you five invitations to stop and think about death. Our invitations come at random times and at any moment, just like death. When they come, you can open the app to reveal a quote about death from a poet, philosopher or notable thinker.”
The Death Positive Movement is in no way meant to minimize or trivialize death, but it is a movement that allows people to be an active participant in their death. The fear of death is usually one of people’s top-10 fears. We know that when we avoid our fears, it only serves to intensify them. When we confront them, we are able to overcome or lessen them. We feel more in control. Becoming a part of the Death Positive Movement can be as simple as letting your family know about your final wishes. It can give them and ourselves more peace of mind.
STORY: CURSED CARS AND HAUNTED HOOPTIES=====
Any kid lucky enough to grow up in Detroit is familiar with the Henry Ford Museum. It’s huge, full of shiny things and a great place to take a child and let them burn off some energy. After several field trips and weekend outings however, the dusty concept vehicles and famous aircraft tend to lose their punch for youngsters. As a fifth grader, I was already gazing on the museum’s many gems with glassy eyes. On yet another school trip, we made our way to John F. Kennedy’s death car, a gleaming black Lincoln limo. The aging volunteer docent told our little group something I had never heard before.
“You know, this car is haunted. Several employees have reported seeing a gray presence right here,” he said, pointing to the back passenger side seat.
I perked up. Now here was something I had never heard before. A haunted car? Sure, it happened in Goosebumps, but this was real life. It made sense, in a way. Cars can be violent, emotional places. That’s certainly the case with JFK’s limo, as well as the other four cars I’ll be telling you about. And maybe those gut-wrenching deaths can permanently doom a car.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s Graf & Stift Death Limo: World War I tends to be a forgotten war, despite being pretty terrible in its own right and setting the stage for the entire 20th Century. The French forces, for instance, lost more lives in the first month of WWI than the US did in the entire Civil War. Everyone who has been through a freshman world history course knows the conflict started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot by a Bosnian anarchist. The crazy thing is, Ferdinand had already avoided an attempt on his life that day, and was actually on his way to the hospital to comfort those who had been injured in the crossfire. One of the would-be assassins simply walked out of a cafe and saw his intended target sitting in front of him where the open-air limo had stalled. The archduke and his wife were shot through their heads and throats. Their deaths would not be the last caused by the limo. Throughout the war and into the 1920s, the limo was owned by fifteen different people and involved in six accidents and thirteen deaths, not counting the 17 million or so killed in the war triggered by the Archduke’s assassination. The first person to own the car after the Archduke was an Austrian general named Potiorek, who went insane while riding in the car through Vienna. It took four car accidents and the loss of an arm to convince its next owner, a governor of Yugoslavia, that the car was bad luck. He sold it to a surgeon friend who died six months later in a crash. Next, a captain in the German army died while trying to avoid two pedestrians. All three were killed. Car accidents and suicides would go on to claim several more lives until 1926, when it ended up in the War History Museum of Vienna.
Surrey, England’s Ghost Crash: This one is straight out of a campfire story. Crashes are common on Britain’s A3highway, so when police received multiple calls on December 11, 2002 about a set of headlights veering off the road, they rushed to the scene fearing the worst. When they arrived however, no crash was evident. Undeterred, police continued to search the scene until they stumbled upon a wrecked maroon Vauxhall Astra, nose-down in a ditch, covered in undergrowth, with a decomposing human body inside.
The car had left the road and ended up in the ravine. Police estimated the young man crashed five months earlier and could find no evidence that any other car had been involved. Was the soul of this departed motorist drawing attention to his final resting place with ghostly headlights? Our gut says maybe.
The Jumping Car Of Cape Town: On a sultry night in South Africa in 2004, a Renault Megane turned itself on and began jumping backwards, all on its own. This car is remarkable because there were multiple witnesses and news reports. Nine people, including two police officers, apparently heard the Megane’s engine start before it “jumped” backwards twice uphill, according to News24. The technical coordinator of Renault in Cape Town was very suspicious of the story at the time, and even suggested the owners were drunk. The car apparently roared to life on its own, despite having no keys in the ignition and the parking brake engaged. Renault later blamed the car’s odd behavior on a rusty starter cable, which could have caused the car to short circuit and start on its own. The company couldn’t explain the revving engine, as if someone, or something, had their foot on the gas…
John F. Kennedy’s Limousine SS-100-X: This car is said to be haunted by a former president, but it might as well have the specter of Franz Ferdinand hanging around with a sign reading “history repeats itself.” The SS-100-X was the Secret Service name given to President John F. Kennedy’s navy blue 1961 Lincoln 74A Convertible. The Lincoln featured $200,000 worth of modifications, but oddly enough, no bulletproofing. There were several domes that fit over the top of the convertible, but all made the cabin extremely hot, without adding any real protection. It was in this Lincoln that Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, the Texas governor and his wife sat in on November 22, 1963, when three shots fired from a book depository ended the President’s life. Surprisingly, the Lincoln was kept in service another eight years after Kennedy’s death. A company called Hess & Eisenhardt added reinforcements and safety measures that were missing when Kennedy rode in the car, apparently much to the chagrin of the president’s ghost. The Lincoln was outfitted with titanium armor plating, bullet-resistant glass, and a permanent bulletproof roof. It was also painted black by incoming president Lyndon Johnson, who thought the original navy blue paint would be too reminiscent of the assassination. In 1967 the presidential limo was replaced, but the 1961 Lincoln was kept in the fleet for less important duties, until it retired to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, in 1978. The car is still on display there and is rumored to be haunted. An apparition dressed in grey has been seen standing near the car, especially in late November.
And the last on our list is probably the first that came to your mind when I said we’d be looking at cursed cars. James Dean’s Porsche 500 Spyder, “Little Bastard”: Definitely one of the most famous and well-documented cases of creepy cars, is the one that witnessed James Dean’s death. Actor James Dean loved racing, and his love ultimately caused his demise. In a horrific accident on his way to a race in Salinas, CA, Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder lost control and flipped into a gully, killing Dean and severely injuring his passenger. The car dubbed “Little Bastard” by the actor would be nothing but bad luck after Dean’s death. Dean’s friend and famous car customizer George Barris took the remains of the Spyder and sold parts out to other drivers. Barris sold the engine and drivetrain to two doctors who entered cars carrying the parts in the same race in Pomona, CA. During the race both crashed horribly, and one of the doctors was killed. Barris eventually began to believe in the curse and gave the car to the California Highway Patrol. They attempted to display Dean’s car as a warning to careless drivers, but more bad luck followed. The first place it was displayed was a garage, which promptly burned down, leaving only Little Bastard standing in the smoldering debris. On its way to a high school, Little Bastard broke free from the truck hauling it and cause another fatal accident. CHP moved it to a stand at yet another high school, where the car fell and broke a student’s hip. While in transit, the Spyder fell off of its trailer a total of three times, crushing a truck driver. The car also injured two thieves who tried to pry out the steering wheel and bloodstained seats. Finally, the CHP had had enough of Little Bastard and attempted to return the wreckage to Barris, but it vanished mysteriously of the back off a flatbed truck en-route and hasn’t been seen since.
When Weird Darkness returns… Airline pilots in the UK are reporting strange objects in the sky, flying so close at times the pilots were afraid of crashing.
There are many dangers for children nowadays like online predators, bullying on the playground and social media, and a wide variety of diseases and viruses to choose from. You can add one more item to the list if you want to be extra cautious – abduction by fairies and having your child replaced with a changeling! These stories are up next!
AIRLINERS ALMOST CRASH INTO UFOS=====
Real life X-Files investigator Nick Pope has described the findings by Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit as “fascinating and disturbing” and he said the reports made to the UK Airprox Board raise “important defence, national security and air safety issues”.
Since May 2017, the Board which aims to enhance aircraft safety has reviewed 36 unknown object reports detailing airborne near misses across the country – and nearly a quarter were in the most serious risk category.
Author and journalist Mr Pope, who investigated UFO sightings for the Ministry of Defence in the 1990s, said: “It’s clear that pilots and air traffic services personnel are witnessing many near misses in UK airspace.
“The suspension of flying at Gatwick Airport earlier this year leads the media and the public to assume such occurrences involve drones, but applying the UK Airprox Board’s own guidelines, many of the reports being attributed to drone activity should more properly be characterized as ‘unknown objects’.
“Pilots frequently see things in the skies that they can’t identify. The UK Airprox Board has a significant number of such accounts and there are numerous reports in the MoD’s UFO files.
“In most cases, sightings turn out to be birds, weather balloons, plastic bags or bin liners, or Chinese lanterns, while some are indeed attributable to drones.
“However, other cases remain unexplained even after thorough investigation, and this is of concern, especially if we’re missing a trick by being too quick to blame drones.
“Pilots tend not to be comfortable reporting a ‘UFO’ sighting, because of the perceived stigma, so it’s much easier to talk about ‘unusual aircraft’, ‘unconventional helicopters’ or ‘drones’.
“However, in April the US Navy issued guidance to its pilots, advising them what to do if they encounter ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ – UAP being the recognized military term for what the public term UFOs.
“While the guidance itself remains classified and won’t be made public, it’s an encouraging sign and I’d like to see something similar in the UK.
“The situation has been under-resourced since the 2009 termination of the MoD’s UFO program, and while I’m aware that the MoD continues to study such matters – being careful to avoid using the term ‘UFO’ more should be done.
“Having investigated UFOs for the MoD back in the 1990s, I can confirm that whatever the true nature of the phenomenon, it raises important defence, national security and – as we see here – air safety issues.”
Janet Walker, from the the Lancashire Aerial Phenomena Investigation Society (LAPIS) echoed many of Mr Pope’s concerns and voiced worries that some pilots are not reporting incidents.
“I think there’s a ridicule factor that pilots and other staff won’t report things they see because they think they will be laughed at,” she explained.
“It does happen that people spot things and these UFOs are not necessarily spaceships. It does happen and some are never identified.”
The Civil Aviation Authority said it was likely that the vast majority of unknown near miss reports involved drones, model aircraft or balloons but the pilots could not be sure what they had seen. However – it is against the law to fly a drone above 400-ft or near to an airport boundary; and a spokesman for the CAA said if a drone recklessly or negligently endangers an aircraft it is a criminal offence and the operator could face up to five years in prison.
Interestingly – the majority of the most baffling reports reviewed by the UK Airprox Board, which is sponsored and funded by the CAA and the MAA (Military Aviation Authority), involved sightings of unknown objects at thousands of feet off the ground.
In eight out of nine cases, where the Board could not determine the nature of the object witnessed, reports detailed sightings at altitudes ranging from nearly 5,000-ft to 16,000-ft.
Drone pilot Jason Goodlad, who runs Hawk-Eye Vision Ltd in Stourbridge, West Midlands, said it would be a “struggle to get a drone up to 6,000 to 7,000-ft as the battery would die” and he added: “At a really high altitude it’s doubtful it would be a drone.”
The CAA trained drone operator said it would be “really difficult to pin-point at such distances and speeds” what had been seen and he added: “There’s so many things it could be. The sky’s like a motorway – there’s a lot going on up there that we don’t really know about.”
Among the puzzling near misses investigated by the UK Airprox Board was the sighting of a “small, metal object” at around 17,000-ft by Typhoon fighter pilots flying from Coningsby, Lincolnshire, at 22.40am on January 15, 2019.
The report states: “The object reflected sunlight and appeared to have a linear form. The wingman independently saw the same object as it passed over the leader’s aircraft. The Typhoons were at FL150 (15,000-ft) and reported that the object appeared to be at FL170 (17,000-ft). There were no plots, hits or any other indication on the radar.”
An RAF spokesman said of the incident: “The RAF takes all reported air incidents very seriously, with air safety remaining at the core of all our activity. In this case, the single incident involving a military aircraft was assessed as category C which means there was no risk of collision.”
A high risk incident did, however, occur as the pilot of an Embraer 175 passenger plane approached Glasgow airport at 6.45pm on December 30, 2018.
The report states: “When passing about 600-ft he saw an object pass between three and 10-ft from the aircraft, at the same level. He couldn’t tell was the object was, it was lit up in various places and was more horizontally long than it was vertically.”
The Board was unable to identify the object, but it determined there had been a definite risk of collision and “providence had played a major part in the incident”.
The report did not say which airline was involved but the type of aircraft is among those operated by Flybe.
In another high risk of collision incident the Captain of a Boeing 757 business jet preparing for approach at Gatwick in busy airspace at nearly 4,800-ft reported “a fairly large, irregular shaped, dark black object pass down the left side at the same level, within 200-ft of the aircraft”.
The Board gave the incident a risk rating of B – just below the most serious – and it determined “safety had been much reduced below the norm”. It is not known how many were on board but B757s can carry around 200 passengers.
In dark skies in Manchester at 6.10pm on February 1, 2018, the pilot of an Airbus A321 was descending through 10,000-ft when he caught sight of a “greyish thin-profiled ‘something’ which passed very close at the same level down the left-hand side at great speed”.
The report states: “His initial reaction was that he had seen an internal reflection in his glasses or the windshield, but it was immediately apparent the First Officer and another person on the flight deck had also seen it. None had a clear view because it was in the landing-light beam for a split second. The pilot noted that having seen balloons in flight before, this object did not fit that profile.”
It is not known which airline was involved but the A321 is among the planes operated by Thomas Cook Airlines and can carry up to 200 people.
On July 5, 2018, at 9.30am, the pilot of a BE90, a small propeller aircraft usually used for charter flights, saw “a rectangle or elliptical object pass 500-1000-ft below” while cruising at 16,000-ft about 10 nautical miles north of Birmingham. The report states: “He estimated it to be 50-100cm long, although he only saw it for about two seconds before it passed underneath the aircraft. It was either hovering or travelling in the opposite direction, there was no time to take any avoiding action.”
The incident was described as one where safety had been reduced but the Board determined there had been no risk of collision.
Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit tried to obtain reports into near misses between UFOs and UK aircraft from the CAA, but an FOI request was refused.
The CAA said under EU regulations the information was exempt from disclosure and it would only be made available to those involved in aviation safety.
Journalist, author and university lecturer Dr David Clarke, from the Centre for Contemporary Legend at Sheffield Hallam University – who has written extensively on UFOs, said: “Until 2015 you could obtain summaries of MORs (Mandatory Occurrence Reports) from the CAA – some of which relate to UFOs – but it seems they decided to restrict access to these, citing a piece of European legislation to justify the change in policy.
“I feel this is scandalous and a blow against open access to information – especially as journalists and academics are excluded.
“I wondered at the time if the change was linked to the growing menace from drones. “Drones are effectively UFOs as the events at Gatwick last Christmas demonstrate.”
He believes most near miss reports are likely balloons or drones, but he said: “If you’re in an aircraft, you see them for such a tiny space of time, it’s virtually impossible to know what you have seen.”
Not convinced the sightings are of intergalactic spacecraft, he added: “Things that are unexplained are likely to be natural phenomenon – not aliens from other planets.”
“I’ve not seen any evidence,” he said. But he was quick to add: “That’s not to say those reports are of no interest. Some of the incidents sound very familiar to the stories I collected from the MoD/CAA files during my work for The National Archives 2008-13. Someone should be sitting down and collating it and looking for information for flight safety and for scientific purposes. There’s a lot that could be learned if we got away from the ridicule.”
The Ministry of Defence said it welcomes all recommendations made in air proximity reports and does whatever it can to prevent similar incidents from happening again. A spokesman added: “No flying is without risk, nevertheless, millions of military and civilian flights are made in UK airspace each year with only a very small number of air proximity reports being made which rarely identify the aircraft were in danger. The low number of these incidents highlight the professionalism of commercial, military and private aviators.”
Paranormal and UFO researcher David Taylor, who is a member of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), said: “The majority of all anomalous reports – I would say around 95 per cent – are explainable in rational terms, either with known phenomena such as misidentification, drones, birds, military tests etc and currently little understood phenomena such as ball lightning, earthquake lights etc.
“However, this isn’t to say all reported anomalies are easily explainable, and we must resist the temptation to dismiss them all out of hand.”
STORY: CHILD SNATCHING FAIRIES=====
In today’s world, parents often worry about whether their kids are eating healthy and getting a good education, and in the case of long car trips, whether the children have their phones fully charged. It’s tough being a modern parent, but at the least, you don’t have to worry like Europeans did about your spawn being snatched by fairies. While the concept of the changeling has now been relegated to folklore, it was once a serious threat for many superstitious moms and dads. Well after the Enlightenment, between 1850 and 1900, courts across Europe were still handling cases of people who abused or killed children accused of being changelings.
According to folktales and historical accounts, a fairy-swapped child could be identified by physical deformities, a sickly or underdeveloped body, and an excessive (or small) appetite. By the 19th century, scholars recognized that stories of changelings likely stemmed from children who were disabled or mentally challenged. The idea of the changeling is thought to have originated with peasants’ recognition that something was “wrong” with their children, and it could have been used to justify abusing and killing the poor kids.
An interesting historical example of a changeling comes from the English poet and topographer George Waldron. While working as an official on the Isle of Man, the London-born Waldron wrote a book about the island’s history and culture, 1726’s “A Description of the Isle of Man.” Criticizing the Manx for being superstitious, Waldron noted that the belief in fairies was still alive and well. “The old story of infants being changed in their cradles,” he observed, “is here in such credit, that mothers are in continual terror at the thoughts of it.”
When Waldron was presented with an alleged changeling, he described the child as having a beautiful face and delicate complexion. The boy was five or six years old, with long and thin limbs. He didn’t talk or cry, hardly ate anything, and was unable to walk and stand. When the kid was left alone, people watching from his window would see him laugh by himself. It was believed that he was in the company of fairies then, and that they would wash the boy and comb his hair.
In another example, Waldron heard a story from a mother who claimed to have been continually harassed by fairies. The trouble began four or five days after she gave birth to her first child. All of a sudden, her family heard somebody shout that there was a fire. They ran out of their house to see where it was, leaving the mother and her baby alone in their room. As she trembled in bed, the woman watched incredulously as her baby was picked up by an invisible hand and stolen away. When the rest of the family came back inside, finding no fire anywhere in their neighborhood, they discovered the baby lying at the entrance of the house. Naturally, fairies were blamed for moving the child.
A year after this incident, following the birth of the mother’s second child, the family heard a loud commotion from their cattle barn. As they rushed to see what the problem was, the mother and her new baby were once again left alone. Inside the barn, nothing was out of the ordinary, and no cows had gotten loose. Reassured, the neglectful family made their way back to the house, where they were greeted by the second baby lying in the entryway. As with the first child, this mysterious displacement was believed to be the work of the little people.
As the saying goes, the fairies figured that the third kidnapping’s the charm. Not long after this same mother delivered her third child, another commotion was heard in the barn. Like clockwork, everybody ran outside, leaving the mother and baby with a nurse who was fast asleep. As the nurse snoozed, the mother watched with horror as an invisible set of hands promptly snatched her baby and carried it away. The woman screamed for her nurse to get up, but it was too late: The fat and beautiful baby was spirited away.
When her family returned, the mother was found crying hysterically. Although the husband pointed out that the baby was still inside the bed, the mother couldn’t be fooled. This was a skinny and deformed impostor, a changeling. The creature, Waldron reported, lived with the family “near the space of nine years.” During its brief existence, the changeling ate “nothing except a few herbs, nor was ever seen to void any other excrement than water: it neither spoke, nor could stand or go,” resembling the child Waldron met on the island. While our English reporter doesn’t detail what ultimately happened to this particular changeling, I think we could sadly conclude that the child suffered from malnutrition and neglect, if not deliberate abuse.
Up next… Two men go out for a weekend of hunting – and come back with the story of a creature so strange they don’t know what to call it.
At a downtown Chicago church, people are turning up in droves – not for the preaching or the powerful worship band – but to see a painting of the Virgin Mary, crying real tears.
STORY: CLOSE ENCOUNTER ON POT MOUNTAIN=====
Josh Brinkley and Daniel Lucero went hunting for elk over the Labor Day weekend in rugged terrain northwest of Taos. They encountered, instead, something so strange they don’t know what to call it.
Still dressed in camouflage gear after several days in the wilderness near Cerro de la Olla, also known as Pot Mountain, the Santa Fe County bow hunters described a close encounter with what they said appeared to be otherworldly beings and a giant tent-like white structure that vanished in seconds.
“We’re a couple of guys that don’t believe in much,” said Brinkley, who called himself a family guy who works in construction and on movie sets. “But we believe now.”
He’s been going to Pot Mountain area to hunt for 15 years, he said, and had never seen anything particularly odd before last week’s sightings.
Lucero, 26, said it was his first time hunting in the area.
Bow hunting season opened Sept. 1. The two men, longtime co-workers, had gone to Pot Mountain a couple of days early to scout for elk. On opening day, they set up along tree lines surrounding a field, each taking a different side, and waited. After three hours and no elk, Brinkley became restless. It was about 9:30 a.m.
“I take off walking, creeping around through the woods, looking for elk,” he said.
He reached the top of the mountain, where there’s a caldera — a wide bowl left behind by a collapsed volcano. As he walked to edge, he said, he saw two figures a short distance away. At first he thought they were fellow hunters.
But they were too tall, and their heads too big.
They were “standing side by side, staring right at me,” Brinkley said.
He walked toward them across the brushy field, a distance he estimated to be about 35 yards. As a bow hunter, he said, he’s adept at measuring distance because it’s critical to hitting a target.
“Figured I would talk to them,” Brinkley said. As he walked around a bush in his path, however, the figures disappeared.
“They were gone, just gone.”
He thought about what he had seen: Two tall figures concealed below the waist by brush.
“The shape that would be like their heads, it looked like they had huge hoods on,” he said. “It looked like two ribbons coming off either side to a point at the top and bottom. The right side was black, left side was white and a little shiny. Torsos were kind of black. I couldn’t see many details. It definitely looked like clothes. In the middle of the oval was just gray.”
Later, he would draw what he could remember of the figures in a leatherbound sketchbook he carries with him. And he would draw what he and Lucero both saw the next day.
In the meantime, Brinkley hurried down the mountain and back to the field, where Lucero was still waiting for an elk. He didn’t immediately tell his friend what he had seen. At first, he said he had spotted a couple of other hunters.
Back at camp, he finally told Lucero about the sighting. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” Brinkley said.
Lucero didn’t know what to believe.
On Labor Day, the pair headed out early in the morning to hunt again. They hiked all around the area. No elk. They gave up and returned to their Jeep around 2:30 p.m.
“We couldn’t figure out why there was no elk,” Brinkley said.
They decided to drive around the mountain to see if there were other hunters scaring off elk or people riding off-road vehicles. As they drove, the men said, they noticed there were no signs of wildlife at all.
After about 10 minutes of driving, they said, they saw a strange structure about a quarter-mile away that appeared to be a movie base camp — or a film set for an alien ship scene.
“It’s this big tent structure, like a circus tent — 50, 60 feet tall,” Brinkley said. “Coming off the left of it was this long building, almost like what you would build for an archery lane for target practice. It was a third the height, but really long, maybe a couple hundred feet.”
They drove down a hill and lost sight of the structure for about five seconds, Brinkley said. “When we topped the hill, it was gone. Just gone.”
“There was no dust. There was nothing,” Lucero added.
They drove around the area until dark searching for the structure.
“I just know it was real,” Brinkley said. “It was huge and white and then gone.”
When the two men reached a place with cellphone service, they called a few friends and told them what they had seen. They thought about calling the Air Force.
One friend gave them a number for Peter Davenport, longtime executive director of the National UFO Reporting Center in Washington state.
Davenport confirmed the men had called him with their story. “It was a dramatic story,” he said. “If it is true, it is profoundly unsettling.”
Out of the thousands of calls he gets every year about possible alien sightings, Davenport said, the callers rarely describe seeing alien beings on the ground.
Brinkley and Lucero aren’t the first hunters to report a sighting they can’t explain. Four hunters in Challis, Idaho, in 2000 described a large triangular craft they said had hovered a couple of hundred feet above them before moving off over some mountains.
After listening to some 350,000 phone calls over 25 years, Davenport said, he thinks he can tell which ones are credible.
The Pot Mountain story was one of them, he said.
Brinkley and Lucero said they weren’t drinking and weren’t using drugs during their strange encounter. They aren’t the kind of guys who fabricate such stories. Still, they know their tale will be met with doubt, they said.
“People probably think we are insane,” Brinkley said.
He didn’t believe in UFOs before last week, adding, “I sure do now.”
Lucero said he still isn’t sure about UFOs and aliens. “I just know I’ve never seen anything that big just disappear.”
STORY: THE CRYING MADONNA=====
It was 2019. The fate of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was in the hands of bankruptcy court and faced foreclosure.
A judge approved the sale of the church for $2.5 million to Universal Life Church. Holy Trinity would now only have 75 days to relocate.
Many parishioners waited with bated breath to see what came from the hearing that started just after 11 a.m.
The Northwest side church’s future hung in the balance after severe financial issues put it on the verge of closing for good.
But then, some worshippers believe a sign from God was revealed after a caretaker at the church saw what looked like real tears pouring from the Virgin Mary’s eyes.
Holy Trinity is the second oldest Greek Orthodox Church in the country and the oldest in the Midwest.
It reached this point, after church officials said a bank rejected a loan request after the church was not able to secure the $1.6 million in pledges needed to save it.
As the fate of the church was being discussed, officials were investigating an apparent miraculous phenomenon.
On Sunday worshippers at the church noticed a shocking sight in what looked like tears pouring from the Virgin Mary’s eyes.
“There’s something she’s trying to tell us, so we’re just going to seal our lips and listen to what she has to say,” said Father Nick Jonas.
The day after services, the residue of the oil-like substance streaming from the Virgin Mary’s eyes remained, with many believing the oil had healing properties and that its origins were a blessing from God.
“I can’t explain why she is tearing, but I do know as human beings we are usually crying for two reasons: either joy or sorrow,” Fr. Jonas said.
A steady stream of visitors have been visiting the icon as well; about 300 people on a single Sunday, according to the secretary of the church, and even more the next day. A nun from California traveled across the country to see the weeping icon in person as well.
“It’s the type of thing you never forget and I always will be inspired by [it],” said Mother Angelina.
For the last two years, the church has been fighting to remain at the corner of West Diversey Avenue and North Meade Avenue in the city’s Belmont Central neighborhood. Holy Trinity avoided foreclosure once in 2018 after a generous anonymous donation, but an issue with the money arose and forced the church to go up for sale again.
“Some people have come up to me and said, ‘We’ll mortgage our homes,'” said Stanley Andreakis, President of the parish council.
“We are hoping that we will relocate perhaps not immediately, but we are hopeful that something good will come out of this,” Fr. Jonas said.
As of today, the church remains at the corner of West Diversey Avenue and North Meade Avenue. Perhaps thanks to the Holy Mother and her miracle tears.
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.
“Discourse At The Death Diner” by Marilyn A. Mendoza Ph.D. for Psychology Today
“Cursed Cars and Haunted Hoopties” by Erin Marquis for AutoBlog
“Airliners Almost Crash Into UFOs” from The Bolton News
“Child Snatching Fairies” by Tristan Shaw from Bizarre And Grotesque
“Close Encounter at Pot Mountain” by Staci Matlock for the Santa Fe New Mexican
“The Crying Madonna” by Cate Cauguiran for ABC-7 Chicago
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” –John 15:12
And a final thought… “You cannot break a person who gets their strength from God.” – Unknown
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.