“LITTLE KNOWN SECRETS OF THE CRYSTAL BALL” and more! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Scrying is the act of gazing into a reflective or translucent object to open your intuition. This supposedly allows the scryer to gain information they may not have access to normally inside their conscious mind. Often the object used for this is the often seen, but often misunderstood crystal ball. (Little Known Secrets Of The Crystal Ball) *** Five hundred years ago, Europe saw its first rhinoceros in more than a thousand years. Well, sort of. In reality, it was an accidental fake. (Dürer’s Rhinoceros) *** A physics paper proposes neither you nor the world around you are real. If that’s true, then does that mean you’re not actually listening to this podcast? (What If I Only Think I’m Real?) *** When it comes to mythical monsters, the dragon seems to have never lost its celebrity. Dragons have always been popular – not just on multi-million-dollar cable channels and blockbuster movies, but in games, posters, artwork, and tales young and old, generation over generation, in just about every culture. (Dragons and Dragon Kings) *** An extra-marital affair in 1812 resulted in a pregnancy, and a murder. And evidence of the term “sins of the father” also comes into play. (A Most Horrible Murder in Hankelow) *** From “The Beast” to “The Red Ripper” to “The Candy Man,” child murderers might be the most terrifying people to ever walk the Earth. We’ll look at a few serial killers who thought nothing of murdering the most innocent of humanity. (Killers of Children) *** (Originally aired June 30, 2020)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
ARTICLE: “Self-Simulation Hypothesis…” in the journal Entropy: https://tinyurl.com/ybhulhwx
“Killers of Children” by Gabe Poeletti for All That’s Interesting: https://tinyurl.com/yd4dqgdb
“Dürer’s Rhinoceros” by Kaushik Patowary for Amusing Planet: https://tinyurl.com/y9lytn3a
“What If I Only Think I’m Real?” by Paul Ratner for Big Think: https://tinyurl.com/yab3hgx7
“Dragons and Dragon Kings” by A. Sutherland for Ancient Pages: https://tinyurl.com/y9mjx2tf
“A Most Horrible Murder in Hankelow” by Sarah Murden for Georgian Era: https://tinyurl.com/yahesdpl
“Little Known Secrets Of The Crystal Ball” by Brent Sprecher for Ranker: https://tinyurl.com/ybnrrd4n
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It was the Spring of 1931 when Asia Eicher began corresponding with Cornelius O. Pierson, a widower from Clarksburg, West Virginia, through a lonely hearts ad.
He would write things like, “Women are the sweetest, purest, and most precious part of the human race. They sing the melody of human life.” However, it would be romantic lines like this that would doom Eicher, a lonely Illinois widow, and her three young children.
Through his letters, Pierson came across as romantic and kind. He explained that he had used a lonely hearts ad because his job as a civil engineer kept him on the road and made it difficult to meet women.
After months of back and forth, Pierson and Eicher met at the latter’s Park Ridge home on June 23, 1931. From the moment he arrived, it was clear that the photos he had sent to her were outdated and didn’t match the haggard, pale man that arrived on her doorstep.
Nevertheless, after Pierson stayed at the house for five days, Eicher agreed to leave her children, Greta, nine, Harry, 12, and Annabel, 14, with a nurse and travel with him to the east.
Five days later, the nurse received a letter from Eicher saying that she would be staying in the east indefinitely and to release the children to Pierson. He arrived shortly after and put the kids into his car, without packing any of their clothing or belongings, and drove off with them.
The sudden disappearance of the Eichers did not go unnoticed in the small town of Park Ridge. Local police began an investigation and discovered that there was no Cornelius Pierson around Clarksburg. They did, however, learn that a man known as Harry F. Powers had rented a PO box under that name.
Powers was a vacuum cleaner salesman who survived off of the money of his wealthy wife. When investigators searched Powers’ property, they discovered a windowless, concrete garage in the back.
Inside the structure, they found numerous dank, concrete cells and a pile of bloody clothing. Police Chief C.A. Duckworth described the scene as, “Something the likes of which this country hasn’t seen in a long, long time.”
Digging up nearby land, the police found the bodies of the Eicher family, as well as another woman, Dorothy Lemke, another widow who Powers had tricked and murdered.
A lynch mob was formed to deal with Powers, but the police were able to get ahold of him before he was killed.
When Powers admitted his crimes, he described the murders with stomach-churning banality, saying, “I walked thru Annabel’s chamber and killed the younger kids. Killed the brother and sister. I hit the little boy on the head with a hammer before putting the rope around his throat. They never made any noise or put up any fight. I killed the older girl. I didn’t have any trouble. They took it quietly.”
When questioned by the police as to who the other clothing found in his house belonged to, he said, “You’ve got me on five, what good would fifty more do?”
Powers was hung soon after.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
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…
Five hundred years ago, Europe saw its first rhinoceros in more than a thousand years. Well, sort of. In reality, it was an accidental fake. (Dürer’s Rhinoceros)
A physics paper proposes neither you nor the world around you are real. If that’s true, then does that mean you’re not actually listening to this podcast? (What If I Only Think I’m Real?)
When it comes to mythical monsters, the dragon seems to have never lost its celebrity. Dragons have always been popular – not just on multi-million-dollar cable channels and blockbuster movies, but in games, posters, artwork, and tales young and old, generation over generation, in just about every culture. (Dragons and Dragon Kings)
An extra-marital affair in 1812 resulted in a pregnancy, and a murder. And evidence of the term “sins of the father” also comes into play. (A Most Horrible Murder in Hankelow)
Scrying is the act of gazing into a reflective or translucent object to open your intuition. This supposedly allows the scryer to gain information they may not have access to normally inside their conscious mind. Often the object used for this is the often seen, but often misunderstood crystal ball. (Little Known Secrets Of The Crystal Ball)
From “The Beast” to “The Red Ripper” to “The Candy Man,” child murderers might be the most terrifying people to ever walk the Earth. We’ll look at a few serial killers who thought nothing of murdering the most innocent of humanity. (Killers of Children)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, 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!
STORY: KILLERS OF CHILDREN=====
(Continuing from the intro)
While the people, like Harry F. Powers, who take human lives for their own pleasures are always terrifying, child murderers almost always elicit an even greater level of disgust and revulsion. They defy all of the biological and societal impulses that tell us that children are to be protected. These child murderers thus seem to be unnatural and almost inhuman… … …
Harry Powers was arrested for the murders of two women and three children in Illinois in 1931. Evidence from the scene of the crime suggests that he killed many more in his concrete bunker. He was hung soon after his crimes were discovered.
Between 1978 and 1990, Andrei Chikatilo, known as the “Red Ripper,” raped, killed, and mutilated at least 52 women and children in Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. He was executed for his crimes by gunshot in Russia in 1994.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, serial killer and cannibal Albert Fish terrorized the east coast of the U.S. by raping, murdering, and eating at least three children. He is suspected of killing significantly more people, with at least five other victims being linked to him. He was executed by electric chair in 1936.
Pedro Lopez, the “Monster of the Andes,” raped and murdered at least 110 girls in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, though he has claimed that his total number of victims is closer to 300. He was arrested in Ecuador in 1983 but released from a psychiatric hospital in 1998 for good behavior. His current whereabouts are unknown.
From 1963 to 1965, Manchester couple Ian Brady and Myra Hindley killed five children between the ages of 10 and 17. Hindley lured in the victims and Brady killed them with a variety of blunt objects and strangulation. The two were arrested in 1965, and both eventually died in prison.
Martha Ann Johnson of Georgia killed three of her children between 1977 and 1982. After confrontations with her husband, the mother would roll her 250-pound body on top of her young children to kill them. After strangling her 11-year-old daughter to death, Johnson was finally caught. She is currently serving life in prison.
Louis Garavito, known as “La Bestia” (“The Beast”), raped, tortured, and killed at least 147 young boys in his native country of Colombia. Most of them were street urchins who he had lured in with gifts. He was arrested in 1999 and is currently in prison.
While working at his family-owned candy factory in the early 1970s, Dean Corll, also known as “The Candy Man,” would rape and kill at least 28 boys with the assistance of two teenage partners. Corll’s murders came to light when he was killed by one of his accomplices, who confessed to police.
Miyuki Ishikawa was a midwife in Tokyo in the late 1940s when she allowed at least 103 of the babies in her care to die because she believed that their parents were too poor to raise them. She received just four years in prison for her crimes.
Norman Afzal Simons, aka “The Station Strangler,” was a fifth-grade teacher in South Africa, where he raped and killed 22 young boys from 1986 to 1994. After luring the children away from the local train station, he would sodomize and strangle them to death. He was eventually arrested in 1995 and is currently serving time in a South African prison.
From 1989 to 1992, Anisio Ferreira de Sousa was a doctor in the remote town of Altamira, Brazil, where he ran a Satanic cult that raped and murdered 19 local children. He was convicted for three of those murders in 2003 and was sentenced to 77 years in prison.
Between 1972 and 1985, Marybeth Tinning killed her own nine infants through various methods disguised as natural causes. Though people began to suspect foul play, it wasn’t until the ninth child when people took action and found that the death was clearly caused by smothering. She was soon after arrested and is currently serving life in prison.
Between 1986 to 1989, Robert Black of Scotland raped and murdered four girls between the ages of 5 and 11. He used his delivery van to abduct girls across the U.K. He was eventually caught after a nationwide manhunt and died in prison.
In 1999, Javed Iqbal sent a letter to the local police in Lahore, Pakistan explaining that he had killed 100 boys, mostly street urchins he had picked up. After locking the boys in a room, he used a chain to strangle them and then disposed of their bodies with acid. He was sentenced to hang but instead killed himself in his cell before his scheduled execution.
After being released from a 16-year sentence for killing his girlfriend, Anthony Kirkland went on to rape and murder four people, two women and two girls, from 2006 to 2009. He would burn the bodies of his victims to conceal that he had raped them. He is currently serving a life sentence in Ohio.
Up next… five hundred years ago, Europe saw its first rhinoceros in more than a thousand years. Well, sort of. Turns out Durer’s Rhinoceros wasn’t really a rhinoceros.
A new physics paper proposes a theory that neither you nor the world around you is real. What does that mean if it’s true?
And dragons have been around for generations, in just about every culture. We’ll look at dragons – and their dragon kings. These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: DURER’S RHINOCEROS=====
Five hundred years ago, Europe saw its first rhinoceros in more than a thousand years. The animal was fairly common during Roman times seen in circuses and gladiatorial events. But after the fall of the Roman Empire, rhinoceros faded away from people’s memory, becoming something of a mythical beast alongside dragons and unicorns—until one living example arrived from the Far East.
The rhinoceros was a gift from Afonso de Albuquerque, the governor of Portuguese India, to King Manuel I of Portugal. Albuquerque himself received the rhino as a diplomatic gift from Sultan Muzaffar Shah II of Cambay, the modern Indian state of Gujarat. At that time, representatives of the Portuguese monarchy and Indian sultans commonly exchanged gifts to keep the strenuous relationship between a foreign colonial power and the indigenous rulers well-oiled. In this case, Albuquerque wanted to build a fort on the island of Diu, and asked the Sultan for permission. The Sultan refused but to ease tension, gifted him the rhinoceros from his own menagerie.
Albuquerque decided that a rhinoceros would be a great gift for the Portuguese king, and thus in January 1515, the rhinoceros named genda (which literally means “rhino” in Hindi), embarked on a 4-month journey across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope and up north through the Atlantic, to arrive in Lisbon on 20 May 1515.
The rhino caused a sensation and attracted crowds of curious onlookers. Many scholars came to examine and admire the beast. Letters describing the fantastic creature were dispatched to correspondents throughout Europe. A description of the rhinoceros soon reached Nuremberg, along with a rough sketch of the animal.
Albrecht Dürer, a German painter and printmaker living in Nuremberg, was captivated by the strangeness of the animal. So he began to a prepare a pen sketch relying on the written description and the sketch made by an unknown artist. Dürer never saw the animal himself, but the woodcut he prepared became so famous that for two centuries it was the only rhinoceros Europeans ever saw.
But Dürer’s representation of the rhinoceros was not anatomically correct. He put armor like plates on the animal’s body, complete with rivets along the seams. He placed a small twisted horn on its back and gave the animal scaly legs. Despite its anatomical inaccuracies, Dürer’s fanciful creation became so popular that three hundred years later, European illustrators continued to publish Dürer’s woodcut, even after they had seen the real animal.
Some scholars believe that Dürer was not being artistic when he prepared the sketch, but was true to the descriptions he read. The armor-like plates that Dürer rendered so sharply may represent the heavy folds of thick skin of an Indian rhinoceros. The ribbed mid-section, knobby skin and soft, hairy ears are remarkably accurate. The scaly texture over the body of the animal may be Dürer’s attempt to reflect the rough and almost hairless hide of the rhinoceros, which has wart-like bumps covering its upper legs and shoulders. The degree of detail was surprising given that Dürer had not actually seen the animal.
Dürer’s woodcut was eventually reprinted some 4,000 to 5,000 times—an impressive number considering the era when this happened. It was probably one of the first mass-produced image and the very first one that went viral.
Images have always been a powerful medium, especially in the early 15th century, when few people could read. A picture, as the saying goes, could speak a thousand words and they facilitated the rapid and widespread dissemination of information. As William Ivins, the curator of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art noted, images such as Dürer’s ”rivaled or even superseded written texts.”
The influence of Dürer’s rhinoceros declined only in the 18th century, when more live rhinoceros were brought to Europe enabling Europeans to finally see what the animal actually looked like.
What happened to the original, King Manuel’s rhinoceros? It died, of course, but not of old age. After spending seven months in the king’s menagerie at the Ribeira Palace in Lisbon, King Manuel decided to gift the animal to the Medici Pope Leo X, so that he would continue to receive favors from the Pope. In December 1515, the rhinoceros was loaded on to a ship, but on the way to Rome, the ship met a storm and sank in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Liguria. Bound in shackles, the rhinoceros drowned while others swam to safety.
The carcass of the rhinoceros was recovered and its hide was returned to Lisbon. Some say it was sent to Rome. The fate of the hide is not known, although some hope that a giant stuffed rhinoceros is still stowed somewhere waiting to be discovered.
STORY: WHAT IF I ONLY THINK I’M REAL?=====
How real are you? What if everything you are, everything you know, all the people in your life as well as all the events were not physically there but just a very elaborate simulation? You might want to take your Excedrin migraine now, because this is about to get kinda brainy.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom famously considered this in his seminal paper “Are you living in a computer simulation?,” where he proposed that all of our existence may be just a product of very sophisticated computer simulations ran by advanced beings whose real nature we may never be able to know. Now a new theory has come along that takes it a step further – what if there are no advanced beings either and everything in “reality” is a self-simulation that generates itself from pure thought?
The physical universe is a “strange loop” says the new paper titled “The Self-Simulation Hypothesis Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics” from the team at the Quantum Gravity Research, a Los Angeles-based theoretical physics institute founded by the scientist and entrepreneur Klee Irwin. They take Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis, which maintains that all of reality is an extremely detailed computer program, and ask, rather than relying on advanced lifeforms to create the amazing technology necessary to compose everything within our world, isn’t it more efficient to propose that the universe itself is a “mental self-simulation”? They tie this idea to quantum mechanics, seeing the universe as one of many possible quantum gravity models.
One important aspect that differentiates this view relates to the fact that Bostrom’s original hypothesis is materialistic, seeing the universe as inherently physical. To Bostrom, we could simply be part of an ancestor simulation, engineered by posthumans. Even the process of evolution itself could just be a mechanism by which the future beings are testing countless processes, purposefully moving humans through levels of biological and technological growth. In this way they also generate the supposed information or history of our world. Ultimately, we wouldn’t know the difference.
But where does the physical reality that would generate the simulations comes from, wonder the researchers? Their hypothesis takes a non-materialistic approach, saying that everything is information expressed as thought. As such, the universe “self-actualizes” itself into existence, relying on underlying algorithms and a rule they call “the principle of efficient language.”
Under this proposal, the entire simulation of everything in existence is just one “grand thought.” How would the simulation itself be originated? It was always there, say the researchers, explaining the concept of “timeless emergentism.” According to this idea, time isn’t there at all. Instead, the all-encompassing thought that is our reality offers a nested semblance of a hierarchical order, full of “sub-thoughts” that reach all the way down the rabbit hole towards the base mathematics and fundamental particles. This is also where the rule of efficient language comes in, suggesting that humans themselves are such “emergent sub-thoughts” and they experience and find meaning in the world through other sub-thoughts (called “code-steps or actions”) in the most economical fashion.
In correspondence with Big Think, physicist David Chester elaborated: “While many scientists presume materialism to be true, we believe that quantum mechanics may provide hints that our reality is a mental construct. Recent advances in quantum gravity, such as seeing spacetime emergent via a hologram, also is a hint that spacetime is not fundamental. This is also compatible with ancient Hermetic and Indian philosophy. In a sense, the mental construct of reality creates spacetime to efficiently understand itself by creating a network of subconscious entities that can interact and explore the totality of possibilities.”
The scientists link their hypothesis to panpsychism, which sees everything as thought or consciousness. The authors think that their “panpsychic self-simulation model” can even explain the origin of an overarching panconsciousness at the foundational level of the simulations, which “self-actualizes itself in a strange loop via self-simulation.” This panconsciousness also has free will and its various nested levels essentially have the ability to select what code to actualize, while making syntax choices. The goal of this consciousness? To generate meaning or information.
If all of this is hard to grasp, the authors offer another interesting idea that may link your everyday experience to these philosophical considerations. Think of your dreams as your own personal self-simulations, postulates the team. While they are rather primitive (by super-intelligent future AI standards), dreams tend to provide better resolution than current computer modeling and are a great example of the evolution of the human mind. As the scientists write, “What is most remarkable is the ultra-high-fidelity resolution of these mind-based simulations and the accuracy of the physics therein.” They point especially to lucid dreams, where the dreamer is aware of being in a dream, as instances of very accurate simulations created by your mind that may be impossible to distinguish from any other reality. To that end, now that you’re sitting there listening to this podcast, how do you really know you’re not in a dream? The experience seems very high in resolution but so do some dreams. It’s not too much of a reach to imagine that an extremely powerful computer that we may be able to make in not-too-distant future could duplicate this level of detail.
The team also proposes that in the coming years we will be able to create designer consciousnesses for ourselves as advancements in gene editing could allow us to make our own mind-simulations much more powerful. We may also see minds emerging that do not require matter at all.
While some of these ideas are certainly controversial in the mainstream science circles, Klee and his team respond that “We must critically think about consciousness and certain aspects of philosophy that are uncomfortable subjects to some scientists.”
If you’d like to read the full paper on this, I’ve placed a link to the article in the online journal “Entropy” in the show notes.
My only question to all of this is simple – if what I’m experiencing is not real, and I’m not real, does that mean I don’t have to pay my credit card bill?
STORY: DRAGONS AND DRAGON KINGS=====
We encounter dragons in almost every ancient culture of the world. Dragons played an important role in the beliefs of our ancestors and these creatures were depicted in a variety of ways.
Dragons can be placed in two groups- East and West dragons, and they were regarded as either good or very fearsome and evil creatures.
In ancient China, the dragon was a highly significant creature that became a symbol of the Emperor and his throne was sometimes called the Dragon Throne. Ancient Chinese believed dragons were in control of the weather and water. These creatures were said to be able to manipulate oceans, floods, tornadoes, and storms.
There are nine distinctive Chinese dragons and some of them are serpent-like creatures with large bodies and long heads. The dragon in China is believed to be a benign creature that is said to bring wisdom, power and luck. They are famous for their goodness, ward off evil, protect the innocent and bring safety to all.
Tradition and celebration of New Year in China can be traced to a dragon named Nien (or “year”).
Nien was a legendary wild beast that attacked people at the end of the old year. Villagers would use loud noises and bright lights to scare the creature away, a practice that slowly morphed into the Chinese New Year festivities. Today the dragon has its own year on the Chinese calendar.
On the British Isles and in Scandinavia, dragons were often depicted as wingless creatures. In this part of the world, the dragon was depicted as a more malevolent creature that was very difficult to kill. The West dragon was wingless and lived in dark places or wells where he was guarding hoard treasures. Approaching the dragon was almost impossible because of its poisonous fire breath.
Dragons in British and Scandinavian mythology often appear in stories when a prince tries to save a young maiden from being abducted by the fearsome animal. If he can slay the dragon, he can become the new King and win the girl as his bride.
In ancient Chinese mythology, we encounter five enormous dragon kings who were rainmakers and rulers of the waters. Four of them were stationed at the cardinal points and ruled the seas. Their chief had his abode in the middle. The five dragon kings were named Lung Wang.
The dragon kings of China lived in crystal palaces under the sea. It was believed these underwater dwellings were part of the mysterious Underworld that could only be reached through underground mountain caves and special secret entrances. When the Water Dragons rose to the surface they caused typhoons and when they flew through the air caused heavy raining and hurricanes. The Dragon Kings are among the deified forces of nature of the Taoist religion.
A dragon’s head was one of the most famous symbols of the Vikings. The Viking dragon was in many ways a representation of the Midgard Serpent, a mythical sea creature who fought with the Norse god, Thor.
The reason why Vikings built ships with huge dragonheads was because they wanted to appear as frightening as possible from a long distance. Vikings called their longships “drakkar” or dragon ships and the dragon was a powerful and fearsome symbol of war.
Many have seen the Welsh flag features a red dragon and that the Prince of Wales uses rampant dragons on his banner.
The old British word “draig,” meant leader, and the word, “pen,” meant head. The two words combined to form Pendragon or Pen Draig, a noble surname in early Britain as early as the fifth century. The dragon symbol continued to be used by the last native Welsh princes of Wales, Llewelyn ap Gruffydd and Owain Glyndwr, during their struggles against English occupation in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The Pendragon name in Welsh literature includes Uther Pendragon, father of the legendary King Arthur.
In ancient times there also many superstitions about the dragon, and surprisingly some of them persists even today.
It was, for example, believed that the blood of the dragon held special properties that could give a person the power to see in into the future. On the other hand, it was also said that if a knight dipped the tip of his sword into the dragon’s blood and stabbed you with it, the wound would never heal.
Dragon teeth were thought to bring good luck to the person who possessed one.
The dragon has survived as a powerful symbol in many parts of the world… even into the 21st century.
When Weird Darkness returns… an extra-marital affair in 1812 resulted in an unexpected pregnancy, and an unexpected murder. But that’s just the beginning of the story of a most horrible murder in Hankelow, Cheshire.
Why is the crystal ball so mysterious, and why is the object used by fortune tellers and mediums so often? I’ll share some little known facts about the crystal ball. Up next.
STORY: A MOST HORRIBLE MURDER IN HANKELOW=====
On April 18, 1797, George Morrey, from the village of Hankelow, near Nantwich, Cheshire married Edith Coomer, from the neighbouring village of Wybunbury. The couple went on to have six known children, the first, Elizabeth, born in 1798, followed by William, James, Mary (who only lived for a year), Edith and finally, George Jr. in 1810.
Clearly, despite George Sr. being a successful farmer, their marriage was not as happy as it ought to have been and as the saying goes ‘while the cat’s away …’ it was whilst George was away selling his wares, that Edith began an affair with a younger man, their former farmhand, John Lomas late 1811. It was in the Spring of 1812 that things came to a head when Edith found herself pregnant with John’s child. Things had to change and with that, John and Edith hatched a plan to murder Edith’s husband, George.
Between two and three o’clock in the morning of Sunday 12 April, the family servant, Hannah Evans, who slept with the children in the room adjoining the parlour heard a noise which sounded like several blows being delivered in her master’s room.
She quickly got up and could hear groans coming from the bedroom. She opened her chamber window to get through it, and, as she was putting her head out of the window she heard the door open, and turning her head saw her mistress come in with a lit candle, and caught hold of her, saying, she must not go out, as there was a murderer in the house, and if she went through the window she was likely to be killed. After a few minutes, all went quiet, Edith sent Hannah to fetch John Lomas, their servant. Hannah then told him to wake the neighbours which, after some persuading, he agree to do.
Having gathered some neighbours and George’s brother they went upstairs to George’s bedroom, where they found him lying dead on the floor, his throat having been cut through the windpipe, a left temple bone fractured. A large, blood-stained axe, covered in blood was found underneath his body. Claims of a break-in were made, but on checking there were no signs of any sort of break-in.
When daylight appeared, one of the neighbours noticed that Lomas had blood on his nose and on one of his wrists, creating suspicion of guilt. The room in which he slept was also found to have traces of blood on the floor and the stairs leading up to his bed. Also, his bed showed traces of blood and he was wearing a clean shirt. On finding the one he had worn the previous day, other items of clothing were found which had blood on them too. This was hardly a well-thought-out crime as he had left evidence of his crime, everywhere.
Once the search was complete Lomas was taken away by the constables to await his fate. Whilst on the journey not only did Lomas confess to the crime but also implicated his mistress, Edith as his co-conspirator, saying that it was she who had administered alcohol to her husband to get him drunk and that she had urged Lomas to kill her husband so that once he was out of the way she would inherit the farm and the money they had, and she would be free to be with Lomas.
When Edith was questioned the constable went to arrest her, she produced a razor and attempted to cut her own throat, but as a doctor was already present in the house examining George’s body, he was summoned and quickly sewed up the wound.
After the trial at which both pleaded not guilty, after just a few hours deliberation and, with a packed courtroom, the like of which had never been seen before, the death sentence was passed for the pair. Lomas immediately said ‘I, John Lomas, deserve my fate’. He was taken from the County to the city jail in Chester, and at midday ascended the drop and met his maker.
According to the Criminal Registers, John Lomas was executed on 31st August 1812 and that prior to his execution, it was agreed that both he and Edith should receive the sacrament together at which time the pair made a full confession of their guilt.
But what about his accomplice, Edith? She pleaded ‘the belly‘ (in other words, she was pregnant), a fact that was substantiated by a jury of matrons who confirmed that she was between four and five months pregnant and therefore permitted to live until the birth of her child. Once born she would then suffer the same fate as Lomas.
[quote] “On 23 April 1813 Edith was taken to the scaffold. She walked from the Castle to Glover’s Stone, having hold of Mr Hudson’s arm, with the utmost firmness, amidst an unusual pressure from the immense crowd assembled. She then got into the cart, and immediately laid herself down on one side, concealing her face with her handkerchief, which she has invariably done when in public, from her first appearance before the judges to her final dissolution, and we venture to affirm that no person obtained a view of her face out of the Castle since her commitment. She remained in prayer with the Rev. W Fish till one o’clock when she ascended the scaffold with a firm and undaunted step, with her face covered with a handkerchief and she immediately turned her back to the populace. When ready Edith dropped the handkerchief as a sign that she was ready to die.” [unquote]
By the time Edith died, her son Thomas was now aged four months, having been born on 21 December 1812. But what became of this ‘love child’? He was raised by Edith’s brother, Thomas Coomer, but this child had his own story to tell. He was baptised in 1814, his baptism showing clearly that his parents were dead.
Life was not to be plain-sailing for this young man, who frequently found himself in trouble for thieving and according to the Chester Chronicle, 12 April 1833, yet again young Thomas found himself in trouble with the law:
[quote] “At the present session, a youth named Thomas Morrey, only 20 years of age, appeared before the court for the third time, charged on this occasion, with stealing a quantity of wearing apparel, and some fowls, from his uncle, Thomas Coomes, of Basford, who had humanely taking him into his house, in the hope of snatching him from a career of crime which must end in bringing him to the gallows. This ill-starred boy is the son of Edith Morrey, who was convicted at the August assizes of 1812, of the murder of her husband and whose execution took place in April 1813, was stayed on account of her pregnancy until after the birth of this boy.” [unquote]
The court despaired of ever being able to reform young Thomas, so opted for having him transported to Tasmania, for a period of 7 years.
Following his sentence, he was removed to the prison hulk, Cumberland, moored at Chatham, Kent, where he remained until being transported the following year on board The Moffatt. On arrival in Tasmania, he was appointed to ‘public works’ and received a ticket of freedom in 1846.
As to what became of him after that is lost to history.
STORY: LITTLE KNOWN SECRETS OF THE CRYSTAL BALL=====
Knowledge is power, particularly in the “information age” we are living in, and while people worldwide have access to more accumulated knowledge than at any time in human history, there is still a desire for secret knowledge. This is hidden information not available to the mainstream or even to our own senses. For this sort of knowledge, untold millions seek out alternative methods of acquiring information, from meditation and prayer, to divination, fortune telling and seances.
One of the oldest methods still being utilized to gain access to this hidden knowledge is crystal ball gazing, the practice of staring into a crystal ball, or orb, in a trance-like state to see visions of the past, the future, or even into the minds of others. In modern times, celebrities, politicians and even royalty have been known to consult mystic seers for insight. Can crystal balls tell the future? That’s up to you to decide.
The earliest recorded uses of crystals in esoteric practices date to the ancient Sumerians, who wrote magic formulas including crystals dating back 5,000 years. Around the same time, the ancient Chinese were using crystals in medicinal practices and crystal-tipped needles in acupuncture. The ancient Egyptians buried their dead with crystals of all kinds to provide spiritual support in the afterlife. Ancient Greeks thought rubbing crushed hematite crystals over their bodies made them invincible. In India, all manner of crystals were used in medicinal and spiritual practices and to increase libido. The Japanese believed smaller rock crystals were the “congealed breath of the White Dragon” and larger ones were the “saliva of the Violet Dragon” and contained magical properties.
The practice of scrying – a form of divination said to derive from analyzing reflections in water, metal or precious stones – has likely peen practiced since pre-historic times. But the use of crystal balls can be traced to the ancient Druids who lived in the British Isles and parts of France during the Iron Age, as noted by Roman author, naturalist, philosopher and military leader Pliny the Elder. The Druids used polished balls of beryl, which is colorless and as clear as glass in its purest form, but can be many different colors depending upon the impurities in it.
Even though the Druids were all but wiped out by 600 AD, the practice of scrying, or crystal gazing, exploded in Europe during the early Middle Ages, when countless wizards, sorcerers, oracles, seers, and “gypsies” began using crystal balls to see the future and tell fortunes for all classes of people, rich and poor, regardless of religious affiliation. Like the Druids, these crystal balls were often made of highly polished spheres of beryl, though rock crystal started to become more widely used because it was believed to be more effective at connecting with the psychic energies that supposedly allowed scrying to work. It was common at this time for the ball to be carried in a sling.
With Christianity spreading throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, many converts and even devout Christians continued to use crystal balls and scrying to gain hidden knowledge in the form of visions, which they considered to be divine messages from heaven. In his 5th century book The City of God Saint Augustine attacked scrying, labeling it and all magical practices, as “entangled in the deceptive rites of demons who masquerade under the names of angels.” Despite this proclamation, many prominent women and men of the era were often buried with crystal balls.
Perhaps the most powerful man to ever claim wisdom from a crystal ball is John Dee, an English mathematician, astrologer, and occultist born in 1527. Dee not only chose the coronation date of Queen Elizabeth I and consulted her in all manner of courtly affairs using a crystal ball for guidance, but he also published an influential book that promoted his vision of England as a maritime world power with rightful claims on New World territories and even coined the term “British Empire.”
In the 20th century, the image most commonly associated with crystal balls is of the scarf-wearing “gypsy” fortune teller. The people who were called “gypsies” are more accurately called Roma (or Romani). They moved out of Northern India in the second half of the first millennium AD and eventually spread throughout Europe. Because of the fear and superstition of the Europeans they encountered, they tended to move from region to region in caravans and engage in businesses that were easy to set up and break down, like fortune-telling booths. The term gypsy was actually derogatory, coined by those intolerant of their customs and traditions.
They were mercilessly persecuted not only in the Asian regions they were from, but also by Europeans and later Americans. Most famously, Romas were killed as part of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany because they were “racially undesirable.”
A “seeress” named Louise Lindloff was arrested in Chicago in 1913 for the death of five, including her husband, brother-in-law, and son. In her defense, Lindloff said she had foretold their deaths in her crystal ball, which she called her “Ball of Fate.” She further claimed she foresaw her acquittal in the Ball of Fate, but she must have read it wrong because she ended up being convicted of killing her son and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The popularity of “gypsy” fortune tellers in the early 20th century prompted many magicians to begin incorporating crystal gazing into their performances. The most famous magician of this ilk was Claude Alexander Conlin, who went by the stage name “Alexander the Man Who Knows.” At the height of his career, Conlin was the most famous mentalist in the world and one of the highest paid magicians at the time. Not only was he a masterful entertainer, but Conlin was an expert at promotion and his striking posters helped influence the idea of fortune tellers as wearing elaborate turbans.
Despite the fact Americans were flocking to stage performers like “Alexander the Man Who Knows” for crystal gazing experiences and to traveling “gypsy” fortune tellers for a glimpse into the unknown during the early 20th century, many puritanical lawmakers outlawed the fortune-telling industry in their communities. In fact, there is still a law on the books in New York that considers it a class B misdemeanor for anyone to accept “a fee or compensation” for “claimed or pretended use of occult powers,” including fortune telling.
In 2014, a crystal ball helped started a fire after sunlight refracting through it caused a pair of curtains to catch fire and engulf a bedroom. A fire investigator for the London Fire Brigade warned the populace against placing the scrying devices on window sills. In a slightly quippy statement, the investigator said, “You can’t predict the future,” with crystal balls, “but you can prevent this type of fire.”
One of the most famous modern day crystal-gazers was Jeane Dixon. Given a crystal ball by “an old gypsy” as a little girl, Dixon began making predictions and proved to be frighteningly accurate. After she predicted the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Marilyn Monroe, she became a sensation and was even profiled in LIFE Magazine in 1965. She began advising many high-profile clients and was even invited to the White House as an adviser to Nancy Reagan, who used Dixon’s insights to plan President Ronald Reagan’s schedule. Dixon said that, for her, a crystal ball is “like a television set.”
Though crystal-gazers believe the visions they receive while staring into crystal balls come from different sources – gods, angels, spirits, demons, and ancestors – scientists who have studied the topic believe the users’s trances are less a connection to another entity or reality than a form of self-hypnosis. The psychologist Millais Culpin wrote in 1920 that the visions are “memories or fancies from the unconscious,” while psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren H. Jones wrote in 1989 that visions are likely “forgotten memory images.”
Though crystal-gazers claim they can foretell death and other tragedies with their crystal balls, rarely are the objects themselves used to effect a death, but that’s exactly what happened in Oklahoma City in 2012. For no apparent reason, Clara Ann Blocker, a homeless woman, beat 4’5″ Eric Scott Saxton to death with a crystal ball in his home, where she had been staying temporarily. Blocker pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the “little man with a big heart.”
A crystal ball inscribed in Hebrew with the Ten Commandments was buried inside Mount Princeton in Colorado on August 23, 2011. It took 20 years for Richard Grossman, who conceived the project, to find the perfect location to bury the ball and to gather the permits that would allow him to do so. The ball will remain hidden in the ground for what his geologists estimate will be 20 million years, by which time natural forces will allow the erosion that will release “The Torah Ball.”
Grossman hasn’t said exactly why he wanted to bury the crystal ball.
In the 21st century crystal balls are more pervasive than they’ve ever been in their 7,000-plus years of use. They are a trope that can be found in movies like The Wizard of Oz and Labyrinth, in TV shows like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and Merlin, in novels like The Riftwar Cycle and The Dark Tower, in comic books, anime, music, video games, pinball games – the list goes on and on. Often the crystal ball isn’t a literal device of seeing the future, it’s more of a symbol of self reflection, guidance, and power.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! 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 email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can 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 on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“Killers of Children” by Gabe Poeletti for All That’s Interesting
“Dürer’s Rhinoceros” by Kaushik Patowary for Amusing Planet
“What If I Only Think I’m Real?” by Paul Ratner for Big Think
“Dragons and Dragon Kings” by A. Sutherland for Ancient Pages
“A Most Horrible Murder in Hankelow” by Sarah Murden for Georgian Era
“Little Known Secrets Of The Crystal Ball” by Brent Sprecher for Ranker
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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:11
And a final thought… “If you do not enjoy what you are doing, you will never be good at it.” – Luke Parker
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.