“PATRICK CROSS AND HIS DEVIL GUITAR” and More Terrifying True Horror Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Air Force veteran Charles Moody drove out into the desert to watch a meteor shower – but he found a lot more than he bargained for when he was abducted by extraterrestrials. (The Alien Abduction of Sergeant Moody) *** We’ll fire up the flux capacitor and take a look at the past, present, and possible future of time machines. (A Brief History of Time Machines) *** Nearly every place has its legends; stories that have passed from person to person, generation to generation, down to the present day. Some are based on facts and are further embroidered in the telling, while others seem to have come from next to nothing at all. Such is the mysterious case of the Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green. (The Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green) *** Some say the story itself is true. Others say it is pure science fiction. Either way, just the circumstances behind the story of “The Shaver Mystery” are enough to scare the goosebumps out of you! (The Shaver Mystery) *** Just because a guitar is the only thing to survive a building fire doesn’t mean that guitar is lucky. In fact, it might be the exact opposite, as Patrick Cross found out when he bought the guitar in 1995. (Patrick Cross and His Devil Guitar) *** (Originally aired March 03, 2021)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Alien Abduction of Sergeant Moody” posted at Anomalien: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/232642p5
“The Shaver Mystery” by Penguin Pete for GeekyDomain.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/bm2jmk6c
“The Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green” by Willow Winsham for Folklore Thursday: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2za6bzzr
“A Brief History of Time Machines” posted Forbes (link no longer available)
“Patrick Cross and His Devil Guitar” posted at Anomalien: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/54884jms
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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…
Air Force veteran Charles Moody drove out into the desert to watch a meteor shower – but he found a lot more than he bargained for when he was abducted by extraterrestrials. (The Alien Abduction of Sergeant Moody)
We’ll fire up the flux capacitor and take a look at the past, present, and possible future of time machines. (A Brief History of Time Machines)
Nearly every place has its legends; stories that have passed from person to person, generation to generation, down to the present day. Some are based on facts and are further embroidered in the telling, while others seem to have come from next to nothing at all. Such is the mysterious case of the Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green. (The Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green)
Some say the story itself is true. Others say it is pure science fiction. Either way, just the circumstances behind the story of “The Shaver Mystery” are enough to scare the goosebumps out of you! (The Shaver Mystery)
Just because a guitar is the only thing to survive a building fire doesn’t mean that guitar is lucky. In fact, it might be the exact opposite, as Patrick Cross found out when he bought the guitar in 1995. (Patrick Cross and His Devil Guitar)
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: PATRICK CROSS AND HIS DEVIL GUITAR=====
In 1995 Patrick Cross, who is also an accomplished musician, bought a white electric guitar in the shape of a “V,” a copy of the more famous guitar made by Gibson, called a Gibson “Flying V.” The guitar purchased by Cross was made of heavy maple wood and looked like it had been passed down by various musicians.
He said, it was made in 1989, and it was in very good shape considering it was used. Other than a slight crack on the top of the neck of the guitar, as if it had been dropped, it played well. The mysterious part is, the guitar had survived from a fire in a Michigan bar, where a band was playing and all of sudden a fire broke out.
Everything in the bar was burned to a crisp—all except the guitar, which survived without any burn marks and fully intact. Apparently, someone in the band had died in the fire, and the guitar was sold, ending up in Oakville, Ontario.
Cross recalled that he was strangely drawn to the guitar. It was as if it called him saying, ‘play me.’ As soon as he picked it up to play, he felt a tingling electric sensation, like it knew he wanted it and it was right for him. He didn’t even check out the other guitars, since he couldn’t put this one down. It was an odd feeling, but most musicians will understand, he said.
The guitar played fine in the store, jamming to some bluesy rock riffs and some classic chords, but when he got it home, it seemed to go out of tune when he picked it up to play it. He thought this was odd, since it played fine before—and now it started de-tuning itself.
When he started playing something like ‘Smoke On the Water,’ by Deep Purple, and ‘Purple Haze,’ by Jimi Hendrix, the guitar played back in tune. It felt like it really liked a dark, heavy sound, and it played better than ever.
After two days, Cross began to hear weird sounds in the apartment. The noises seemed to be coming from the closet in the second bedroom where the guitar was stored. He opened the closet door, heard nothing, looked at the guitar, looked around, didn’t see anything—but he heard what sounded like men’s voices arguing with each other.
It was as if an argument was going on in the closet between two men. One sounded Spanish, the other Mexican, and they were talking about money. He heard this from the front room, then went into the bedroom to the closet to look. Again, suddenly everything stopped.
As the days passed, weird things started happening around the inside of Cross’s apartment: His car keys would disappear, then re-appear sometime later. He saw shadows move on the wall, heard footsteps and bangs or knocks. Cupboard doors opened and closed on their own.
Lights turned back on after he shut them off. The television set was on when he would come home, even though he remembered turning it off before went out. His cat would look in the air, as if she saw something move in the air, and then look in the other bedroom as if she could see someone walking around. If the guitar was left out, he could feel a chill around it—like cold air or cold wind.
As Cross began to use the guitar in his rock band, “SCI-FI Prodigy,” strange things would also happen at music rehearsals and band performances. They experienced power failures on their equipment and heard weird voices coming through the music amplifiers.
Lights would go off and on and blow out and on several occasions, actual fires started from the floodlights in the room for no reason. The drummer experienced his cymbals falling off and his drums go out of tune every time he started to play. The band members also heard other people talking in the room around the guitar when they were out of the room.
The guitar could not be played and would de-tune itself when anyone would try to play it except for songs of bad or loud negative music such as “heavy metal” or aggressive rock songs with death and destruction meanings.
The guitar particularly liked one song he wrote and played, entitled “Something Is Out There,” which is about ghosts and evil entities and fear of the unknown with a heavy ‘X-Files’ type edge. This was one of the very few songs the guitar would stay in tune with.
“The guitar had a presence of evil—a bad aura around it. It seemed to be three feet of cold presence. Other people, including Rob McConnell from the X-Zone Radio Show and Janet Russell from Beyond the Unexplained, also felt this,” said Cross.
More things of a paranormal nature occurred to Cross as time went on. He said he had a series of bad luck, which he believe was related to the guitar being in his apartment. He lost his job; his health started to suffer; rashes and sores appeared on his legs for no apparent reason.
His car would shoot out flames from the top of the engine every time he started it, even though there was no mechanical reason to account for this. One day, there was a horrible stench that seemed to come from the guitar—like a burnt dead smell. Then the terrible odor would go away as quickly as it appeared.
Cross began to take pictures of the guitar and investigate why all these bizarre happenings and bad luck occurrences should be taking place. He captured some “ghost orbs” around the guitar many times, and on occasion he could see a misty presence.
It always felt cold when he would pick up the guitar, and he would get small electrical shocks even when it wasn’t plugged in. He said, everywhere he went with the guitar, it seemed to cause things to happen. On one occasion in Ontario, where his band was performing, a fire broke out in the bar area. Glasses filled with water would shatter as they passed near the table where the guitar lay.
On May 16, 1999, Cross was a guest speaker at a UFO-ghost conference, the X Zone Symposium, in St. Catharines, Ontario. He brought his ‘devil guitar’ (also known as haunted guitar) along to see if he could find some individuals who could psychically channel anything that might explain the phenomena surrounding it.
“Psychics said that they felt weird around the guitar and expressed their opinion that it contained an evil presence,” Cross recalled. “Two people who said they could help were psychic-sensitives Janet Russell and Eugenia Macer-Story.
Eugenia proceeded to channel the guitar and found out it had a living entity attached to it. The entity was inside the wood of the guitar. She found it had a controlling effect on Cross and anyone who touched or felt it.
It seemed to have intelligence and was clearly talking to Eugenia, saying it did not wish to be put on display, but wanted to cause evil and destruction. It wanted to fly like a condor with large wings, and it called itself, ‘Eye of the Condor.’ They later found out this was a popular song in Mexico and South America, where condors do live. The guitar wanted to start fires. It wanted Cross to kill with it. Actually use it to kill, swinging it like an axe.
Cross felt sickened when he heard these words being channeled by Eugenia, for many times, he had had frightening images enter his mind of wanting to kill when he was around the guitar. He had also experienced very vivid dreams of going out to commit murder, using the instrument as if it were an axe.
The entity that possessed the guitar went on, saying that it had started many fires and survived while all else burned. It said it had been spawned by the Devil, and it was here to rise up to do its father’s bidding in the world. It wanted to fly free, like a condor, spreading evil throughout the world.
Eugenia found the guitar had the most powerful of Voodoo hexes, EXU (pronounced ‘Echu’), placed on it by previous musicians who had owned it. The hex was supposed to bring wealth to anyone who owned it and did its bidding. The EXU hex back-fired on the owners who were involved with drug money and they were killed.
The spirit inside the guitar wanted to be released into human form in order to kill and destroy. It liked Cross to play only dark, evil music and said it de-tuned itself if the music was good, happy, or up-tempo. The entity said that it never wished to become good. It only wanted to commit evil acts.
“It used profanity, swearing, and vulgar language as it spoke to Eugenia, trying to latch onto her,” Cross said. “The spirit said that it wanted to come into her body and kick out her soul. Eugenia felt the presence coming into her, and she let go and moved away from the guitar as it tried to possess her.”
After 2 hour psychic talk with the spirit, Eugenia suggested the guitar be destroyed or re-blessed to change the evil inside it. When she asked the guitar if it wanted to be blessed, the entity responded by saying no, and speaking in Spanish, began blaspheming Christ and God.
On the advice of Eugenia, Cross did destroy the guitar by taking it to a remote park, putting it in a steel garbage can and dousing it with gasoline and lighter fluid. Before lighting the guitar aflame, Cross put a circle of salt around the container to stop the evil entity from escaping or attaching itself somewhere else. He recited the Lord’s Prayer three times and told the evil entity to go back to its source.
After that, he saw a misty cloud of air rise up inside the garbage can. There was wind all around him. Minutes before, it had been calm. He attempted to light the guitar, but the fire kept going out. He poured more gasoline all over it. He also found some wood to put around it. It took a while to light the fire and a while to get the guitar to burn. Obviously, the entity did not want to be destroyed.
As the flames went higher, Cross heard a high-pitched shriek coming from the burning guitar. It sounded like a sick, wounded animal. He was standing there, watching it burn, adding more gasoline to the fire, when some of the flames jumped on his arm.
Now he was on fire, and as he tried to put it out, he dropped the full can of gasoline. He was horrified—because now the whole can of gas could explode and engulf him in flames.
Cross said, at that time he was panicked, but somehow he managed to put out the flames that had begun to burn his clothes. He breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the guitar burn away, into a charred chunk of wood. After an hour, he made sure the flames had burned out.
He poured more salt over the burned up guitar, just to make sure it would contain whatever spirit energy was still left. He left the guitar in the garbage can and took the case, closed it up with salt inside it, and wrapped the blue cloth back around the case. He was shaking, but he felt good that he had destroyed the evil entity. Hoping that it wouldn’t haunt or possess anything else again, he left the park around 10:30 P.M.
Immediately after returning home, Cross felt a sense of relief. He didn’t hear any voices or see or feel any more ghostly activity around him. The next day, Monday, everything immediately changed for the better.
He had a phone call for a new job, his health was coming back, his sores and rashes had all disappeared, and his plants came back to life, he said. Also he won $150 on a Bingo scratch ticket, there were no more power failures on his TV, and his car started normally. Miraculously, everything that had been going bad changed over night since getting rid of the haunted guitar.
Since 1999 Cross has investigated all sorts of hauntings and ghost activity, but he has never had anything happen as bad or bizarre as when he owned the haunted guitar.
Coming up… Air Force veteran Charles Moody drove out into the desert to watch a meteor shower – but he found a lot more than he bargained for when he was abducted by extraterrestrials. (The Alien Abduction of Sergeant Moody)
We’ll fire up the flux capacitor and take a look at the past, present, and possible future of time machines. (A Brief History of Time Machines)
Plus, despite it’s very odd and cringeworthy title, you’ll want to hear the story of the Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green.
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns! (The Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green)
STORY: THE ALIEN ABDUCTION OF SERGEANT MOODY=====
On the evening of August 13, 1975, approximately at about 1:20 a.m., a veteran Air Force Sergeant Charles L. Moody (32) drove out into the desert of Alamogordo, New Mexico, to watch a meteor shower that was due to occur.
However, he got much more than he bargained for. As he was watching for shooting stars, a glowing fifty-foot-long with eighteen to twenty feet wide, metallic, saucer-shaped craft landed about seventy feet away from him. Moody could hear a high-pitched humming sound.
He also noticed a rectangular window in the craft through which he could see shadows resembling human forms. Frightened, Sergeant Moody jumped into his car and attempted to drive away. But for unknown reason, his car would not start. Then, his entire body became numb. Just when his fear increased, the object suddenly took off.
Moody raced home to tell his wife. He was shocked to find it was already 3:00 a.m., and that two hours had passed. Had he been taken onboard? Within a few days, a rash broke out over his lower body.
Upon the recommendation of a physician, he began to practice self-hypnosis in an effort to recall what had occurred during the lost time period. At first he didn’t remember, but over the next few days and weeks, he eventually recalled everything that had happened.
He remembered that he was, in fact, taken onboard. He was sitting in his car when the numbness came over his body. Next, he had observed several “beings” exited the craft and approaching his car.
Says Moody, “The beings were about five feet tall and very much like us except their heads were larger and hairless, their ears were very small, eyes a little larger than ours, nose small and the mouth had very thin lips.
“I would say their weight was maybe between 110–130 pounds. They have speech, but their lips did not move. Their type of clothing was skintight. I could not see any zippers or buttons at all. The color of their clothes was black except for one of them who had a silver-white looking suit on.”
The alien leader asked Moody telepathically if he was prepared to behave peacefully. When Moody agreed to do so, the leader applied a rodlike device to his back which relieved the paralysis.
Later, Moody was taken into a very clean room with white, rounded walls and indirect lighting. One of the beings examined him and told him, “I will not hurt you. We are not meant to hurt you.” Moody asked if he could see the engine room. They agreed and took him to a lower level.
He saw a complex machine involving long metallic rods and large, crystal-like spheres. The E.T.s explained that the ship operated using the principle of positive and negative magnetic poles.
They told him that they had a much larger mother ship, and that there were many other races of E.T.s who were also observing and studying the planet. They warned him against the use of nuclear weapons. He was promised a future meeting with the E.T.s but warned that closer contact with Earth men would not be attempted for another twenty years.
They also said that one day reveal their existence publicly to the world. Finally, he was told that it was time for him to go and that he wouldn’t remember what happened until a few days afterwards. Moody was then placed back in his car, where he watched the UFO take off.
After remembering the onboard part of his experience, Moody realized how important his story was, and he contacted local UFO investigators. However, a thorough investigation by investigator named Jim Lorenzen, revealed a couple of contradictions in Moody’s accounts about the incident. Today, Moody’s case remains undisputed.
STORY: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME MACHINES=====
The dream of time traveling, to the past or future, is probably as old as the human imagination. When H.G. Wells published The Time Machine in 1895, he called it a “scientific romance” because no one knew whether time travel was possible.
A mere 10 years later, Albert Einstein would put forth his theory of special relativity, and part of the question would be answered–to the astonishment of many–in the affirmative.
One of Einstein’s predictions, now verified by countless experiments, is best illustrated by the parable of the twins. One twin stays home while the other makes a round-trip voyage into outer space, traveling at nearly the speed of light for 10 years, as measured by the stay at home twin. When the traveled twin returns, she finds her sister has aged 10 years, while she has hardly aged at all. The traveled twin has jumped 10 years into the future.
This is the “time-dilation” effect of special relativity, and although it is most noticeable when extreme velocities are involved, it is happening around us all the time. As we move relative to each other we are–all of us–traveling into the future at different rates. The differences in these rates are very small, sure, but they are real. Time travel into the future is inescapable, a consequence of the structure of the universe.
Time traveling to the past, or returning back from a trip to the future, is a somewhat more challenging proposition. Until a few decades ago, the subject was consigned to science fiction. In fact, a query from a first-time science-fiction author provoked the beginnings of the first serious and sustained study.
In 1985, astronomer Carl Sagan was working on the manuscript for his novel Contact. The book’s heroine required some means of rapid interstellar transit, and since Sagan wanted to get the physics right, he solicited advice from his friend Kip Thorne, a Caltech theoretical physicist. Thorne recommended the use of a “wormhole,” a tunnel-like shortcut through space and time predicted by Einstein and well known among science fiction aficionados. Sagan dutifully incorporated the suggestion.
That same year, Thorne realized that if you treated the two mouths of a wormhole as you treated the twins–keeping one mouth fixed, moving the other at a velocity near the speed of light and then returning it to the vicinity of the fixed mouth–you could create a time machine. If the traveling mouth had been moving for 10 years as measured by the fixed mouth, then Thorne could jump into the traveling mouth and emerge from the fixed mouth 10 years into the past.
Physicists had been skittish on the subject of time travel, considering it science fiction. But Thorne’s work was license to take it seriously, and suddenly there appeared a torrent of papers, many of which were published in the most prestigious journals. By the mid-1990s there were at least half a dozen ideas for other ways to twist and fold space-time like origami.
All this thinking was decidedly theoretical–no one was building a time machine in his basement. One reason was that in most cases, the plans required a kind of anti-gravity called negative energy to sustain the warping of space and time. Negative energy is difficult, if not impossible, to produce in the quantities necessary. Still, the idea of time travel was getting serious attention.
Naturally, not all that attention was enthusiastic. Stephen Hawking, for one, suspected that by some as-yet-undiscovered mechanism, nature prohibited traveling back in time. One sticking point was the “grandfather paradox”: If I traveled back in time and killed my grandfather, I could not have been born. But if I have not been born, I cannot live to travel back and kill my grandfather.
The Russian-born physicist Igor Novikov, an enthusiastic investigator into the subject of time travel, has suggested that the paradox doesn’t apply because space-time is probably self-consistent. That is, I may be able to travel back in time and somehow become interwoven into a past of which I was already a part, but I will not be able to kill my grandfather, quite simply because I have not killed him already.
Novikov has also thought a good deal about the other time travel conundrum–the “bootstrap paradox.” Suppose I travel to 2009, find a design for a zero-emission automobile engine and return with it to 2008 and patent it. Suppose further that the patent is developed into the design that I find in 2009.
The obvious question: Who would have invented the zero-emission engine? The answer is, no one would have invented it. The design would have been generated quite literally from nothing, courtesy of a time machine and (perhaps) a skirting of some yet-to-be-written intellectual property laws.
British physicist David Deutsch, invoking the “many-universe” interpretation of quantum mechanics, believes that “pastward” time travel would require travel to another, parallel universe–one in which I could kill my grandfather and in which I (therefore) would never be born. Via a time machine, I would have removed myself from this universe to take up residence in that one.
The idea has some interesting implications. Deutsch has suggested that one reason we have detected no extraterrestrial civilizations may be that, using time machines, they have left this universe, preferring to live in another.
Metaphysical and philosophical questions aside, exactly how realistic is the physics of pastward time travel? Each of the several schemes for making a time machine creates a region in which pastward time travel is possible and separates it from a region in which time travel is impossible. The boundary between these regions, the “chronology horizon,” has remained a mystery, in part because its nature depends upon the characteristics of space-time on the smallest possible scales.
We have at best a dim understanding of these scales, and we will not have a real understanding until we have developed a full theory of quantum gravity. This is the holy grail of theoretical physics: the so-called “theory of everything” that would eliminate disparities between relativity (which explains nature on very large scales, where gravity becomes important) and quantum mechanics (which explains nature on very small scales, where quantum effects become important).
Some physicists think the theory of everything is 10 years away; others suspect it is a good deal further off. For the moment, then, the question of whether time travel is possible has been put on hold.
The recent (and, no doubt, temporary) decline of interest in traveling to the past is welcomed by physicists who argue that work in less fanciful areas might yield a greater intellectual profit. New Zealand physicist Matt Visser, himself the architect of a number of theoretical time machines, calls that attitude overly cautious and “boring.”
More than two decades after Thorne’s seminal work, we still don’t know whether time travel is possible. But one thing is certain: Even as an idea, it’s anything but boring.
STORY: THE WITCH OF SCRAPF*GG*T GREEN=====
A couple of hundred years ago in the Essex village of Great Leighs, a witch named Anne Hughes was burned at the stake for the crime of bewitching her husband to death. Denied a Christian burial, her charred remains were buried at a place known as Scrapf*gg*t Green, and a large stone was placed on top to mark the site.
Still greatly feared, Anne’s resting place remained undisturbed for the next two or three centuries. During World War II however, the road that passed by the Green needed to be widened in order to accommodate the new Boreham Airfield. The work was not as careful as it should have been, and bulldozers displaced the stone, something that would have serious repercussions.
Strange events began to be reported soon afterwards: The bells of the local church rang at midnight with no one there to make them. Sheep were found out of their fields with no sign of how they had got there. Strange noises were heard in the night. Painting supplies were moved from one room to another by unseen hands. Haystacks were blown around without wind. Scaffolding poles were scattered about a yard in an impossible fashion. Reputable folk who were known for their level-headedness and taking no nonsense were reporting these and other fantastical things, and the strangeness at Great Leighs showed no sign of abating.
In desperation, Harry Price, the distinguished paranormal expert was called in. The cause of the disturbances was glaringly apparent to this seasoned investigator, and he diagnosed a poltergeist, angered by the moving of the stone. The solution was, thankfully, simple: following Price’s advice the stone was replaced in its original position and the remains of the witch buried with due ceremony in the local churchyard. From that point on, the inhabitants of Great Leighs and nearby villages were disturbed no more, the witch once again at rest, as she remains to this day.
Although this is the basic legend of the witch’s stone of Great Leighs, there are many variations and ‘facts’ that both help and hinder when trying to unpick the fascinating tale. The most obvious place to start is to attempt to ascertain the identity of the witch in question. There was indeed an Anne Hughes or Hewes accused of witchcraft; on 12 March 1621 Anne was before the Chelmsford Lent Session of the Essex Assizes on the following indictments: “Anne Hewes of Great Leighs, widow, on 24 June 1615 at Great Leighs, bewitched John Archer, who languished until 24 June following, when he died.”
She was also guilty of bewitching Thomas Meade and Margaret Bright, both of whom were ‘wasted and consumed’ and who continued in that sorry state at the time Anne came to court. On top of that, Anne had also bewitched to death a cow belonging to Richard Edwards that was valued at 3 pounds.
It would seem a clear cut case and that our witch had been found, apart from two rather important details. Firstly, despite a hugely popular misconception, English witches were very, very seldom burned (in fact there are only 1-2 verifiable cases throughout the entire period of the witch trials where a witch went to the flames, and then it was for the crime of petty treason – killing her husband – rather than for witchcraft itself.) And perhaps the most pertinent to this case, Anne Hughes was acquitted. As with the case of Anne Wagg of Ilkeston in Derbyshire in 1650, modern sources delight in repeating how Hughes was hanged for her crimes; however, a perusal of the parish registers for Great Leighs reveal that in December 1669, Anne Hues, widow, was buried.
Although Anne is therefore ruled out as the witch behind the disturbances, there is however another potential candidate.
Elizabeth Brooke of Great Leighs was accused of witchcraft several decades previous, brought before the Chelmsford Assizes on 2 March, 1584. Her crimes had taken place in 1587, and in that year she was said to have been guilty of murdering Margaret Cleveland, wife of John Cleveland, by witchcraft.
Elizabeth was also indicted for bewitching 6 cows and 6 horses belonging to James Holmested, a cow, 5 heifers and 4 hogs that were worth £10 belonging to James Spylman, 2 cows and 2 mares worth £5 of Thomas Cornshe, and some sows of George Fytche’s that were worth 40 shillings. All of the above animals died.
Not as fortunate as Anne Hughes, Elizabeth Brooke, who confessed to the second of the charges against her, was found guilty under the 1563 Witchcraft Act (which stated categorically that murder by witchcraft was a capital offence) and was condemned to die by the noose.
It is highly probable that these two ‘witches’ became conflated over time in local telling, and that the ever-popular witch trial tropes of fire and husband murder were added for good measure as the legend developed over the years that followed. Witches were known to be vengeful, spiteful creatures, and that one would return from the grave to wreak havoc on the descendants of her neighbours would have been easily believable both to their contemporaries and down to the present day.
What of the stone itself? Sources, such as they are, are decidedly vague on not only the location of the stone, but also what happened to it. Stones have been mentioned in relation to St. Anne’s Castle (a local pub that is also said to be haunted by the ghost of Anne Hughes), Boreham Airfield itself, and the aforementioned Scrapf*gg*t Green. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to determine which stone was the ‘original’ and where it had originally been located. Intriguingly, and perhaps most pertinent to the known facts, there is mention of a stone marking the place where an unlucky game keeper was murdered in Dukes Wood, resting to the south of Great Leighs and Boreham. The wood was cleared to make way for the building of the air-field in 1943 and it is possible that the airfield, the story of a moved stone and the local witch were further merged together over time.
Although the story has been much repeated, sources from the time these events were supposed to have occurred are scant indeed. None of the local papers seem to have reported the strange events, or the re-interment of the supposed remains, a curious state of affairs for something so newsworthy The only known contemporary report was an article run by the Sunday Pictorial in October 1944, relating the strange events at Great Leighs and attributing the phenomena to the Scrapf*gg*t Green Witch. There was also potentially a cartoon in an American magazine from around the same time that gave a humorous account of what was said to have taken place.
Another source close to the time was Harry Price, the ‘ghost expert’ who had aided with the diagnosis of the problem and replacement of the stone. Price was in fact the founder of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, the great nemesis of medium Helen Duncan, and most famed for his investigations into the hauntings at Borley Rectory. In his own account of what took place, Price was less forthcoming than he is often attributed to be; and in his 1945 publication Poltergeist Over England, states that:
“The villagers declare that their misfortunes dated from the day when American bulldozers widened the road at Scrapf*gg*t Green, the centre of the village, thus displacing a two-ton stone that marked the remains of a seventeenth-century witch who had been buried (with a stake through her chest) at the crossroads there. They asked me what they had better do about it. I told them that if they believed the witch to be responsible for their troubles, the logical thing to do was to restore her tombstone to its original site. This they did, ceremonially, at midnight on October 11-12, placing the stone east and west in the traditional manner. The phenomena ceased.”
That real events were cobbled together in the public imagination both at the time and in the years that followed seems the most likely background of this compelling story, with witches and stones woven inextricably into the fabric of the history and folklore of Essex and ripe for the picking. As for the strange events reported in Great Leighs themselves however, things are less clear cut. Did things really happen as reported, with haystacks demolished and bells ringing unbidden? Or is there a simpler explanation? For along with the believers there are those who maintain that the ‘strange happenings’ were nothing more than villagers having a joke at the expense of a too-trusting reporter from the Sunday Pictorial. In this telling, the supposedly ‘incredulous’ locals – and the Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green – have the last laugh after all.
Some say it’s a true story – others say it purely science fiction. Either way, the story of “The Shaver Mystery” is incredibly freaky, as you’ll find out when Weird Darkness returns! (The Shaver Mystery)
STORY: THE SHAVER MYSTERY=====
Have you ever looked out at the craziness of the masses and wondered: What possesses people?
How did wearing a face mask during a contagious pandemic become a political issue? Why are there anti-vaxxers? Why do some people insist on a flat Earth? Why do others insist on a hollow Earth? Why are these delusions so contagious?
Come here, kid. You want to hear a real freaky story? Your Uncle Darren has one for you. Some say the story itself is true. That is neither here nor there, but I do know that even the circumstances behind the story are enough to scare the cupcakes out of you!
The year is 1932, the peak of the Great Depression. The place, a Ford auto factory somewhere in the Rust Belt region of the United States. A factory worker named Richard Sharpe Shaver has an undefined accident and soon after begins to report strange phenomenon. By his account, a welding gun somehow allows him to hear the thoughts of his co-workers. He then claims to have received a telepathic record of a torture session conducted by evil beings who live deep within caverns under the Earth.
Richard Sharpe Shaver quit his job at that factory not long after this event and became a drifter for awhile. His subsequent misadventures are unknown until 1943, in the thick of WWII, when he wrote a letter to a then-obscure sci-fi pulp magazine called Amazing Stories.
Shaver’s letter claimed that he had discovered a hidden language, called “Mantong,” which was a system of sounds with hidden meanings embedded in them and supposedly the origin of all human language. Shaver claimed that Mantong could be mapped over any other language to reveal hidden meanings. That letter arrived at the desk of Ray Palmer, editor at the magazine, who applied a few examples of Mantong in Shaver’s letter and thought the theory sounded pretty airtight.
Palmer wrote back to Shaver asking for more detail about this language, and in response Shaver sent back a longer letter narrating his experience in uncovering the secret, underground society of inhuman monsters who lived in caves under the Earth’s surface. These monsters, called “Deros,” made periodic treks to the surface to abduct humans and take them back to their lair to conduct torturous experiments. Editor Palmer liked this story enough that he edited it into a fictional account and published it in the magazine.
Already, it seems unlikely that a person clearly suffering from some form of mental distress could pawn off this rant to any magazine at the time without being dismissed as a kook. But we’re just getting started. What happened next defies all explanation…
Thus was launched the Shaver Mystery franchise, beginning with the first story, I Remember Lemuria. This story sold out the magazine, and became so hugely popular that a series of stories produced by Shaver continued to run in Amazing Stories until it almost crowded out every other kind of content. Shaver continued building this universe of the subterranean Dero, a race of proto-humans whom had gone underground because they found direct exposure to sunlight too harsh. Later most of them would build spaceships and flee to other stars, leaving their most derelict members behind.
The universe of the Dero grew to include rare noble “Teros,” good-aligned reformed Deros who tried to help humans escape. There were also increasingly fanciful elements of underground hangars, spaceships, robots, bands of human mercenaries leading a resistance, and whatnot – all the elements of a good sci-fi adventure series. The series sold the magazine; Amazing Stories subscriptions rose from 135K to 185K over the course of the series, running from 1945 to 1948. Thanks to Shaver’s stories, be they fact or fiction, Amazing Stories was now outselling every other sci-fi publication.
And there could be no doubt that the extra subscribers came from fans of Shaver’s stories, because they wrote in to say so.
First dozens, and then hundreds of letters poured in from readers who, one after another, confided that they, too, had encountered telepathic violence from the underground Deros. A few even claimed to be some of the surviving humans the Deros had kidnapped. Several readers, in their letters, winked slyly at Amazing Stories for telling “the truth” and disguising it as “fiction.” What a clever ruse, they would write admiringly, to throw the Deros off!
Furthermore, Shaver and his fan base shared enthusiasm over the Montang language, extending to Shaver’s new discovery of Teros and Deros hieroglyphs which were written in the very rocks of the Earth. Clubs of Shaver fans began to form, dubbed Shaver Mystery Clubs. One woman claimed to have gone down a secret elevator in a subbasement of a building in Paris, France, and found a Deros enclave which kidnapped her, raping and torturing her for a month until a heroic Tero rescued her.
The magazine staff, then eventually most of the science fiction community, became first fascinated and then horrified by this phenomenon. As fans become more and more insistent that the Shaver stories were true, the science fiction community around Amazing Stories began to pressure editor Palmer to discontinue the series and denounce it as a hoax.
By 1948, Palmer caved to the outraged masses’ demands and stopped publishing the stories – while he also quit working for Amazing Stories and started his own shoebox publishing title The Hidden World, where he continued to run Shaver’s ramblings. Palmer, the definition of a “number-one fan,” stayed loyal to his muse Shaver until the bitter end. The Shaver cult followed them.
So… What Was Going On?
It’s difficult to say. Even today, Shaver Mystery Club chapters continue to thrive, as historians re-examine the phenomenon. Shaver had not only started a fiction universe based on funny noises he heard in his head, but had inadvertently founded a cult, dubbed “Shaverology.”
Contained within this story is an intangible common hook to a well-documented instance of contagious craziness, clinically dubbed “the influencing machine.”
It seems that within the subjective symptoms of those suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a specific kind of hallucination recurs from one individual to another, whereby a machine is used to insert torturous and bizarre thoughts into the victim’s mind. The machine is always operated by a gang of unsavory villains who persecute the victim for their own twisted ends. The gang is inevitably an organized party of a group, such as the CIA, the Mafia, or the Freemasons. Recall Shaver’s version of the machine was a malfunctioning welding gun.
This is a very well-documented phenomenon by now. It is included, for example, in the psychological record of James Tilly Matthews, considered to be the first recorded case of paranoid schizophrenia. Matthews’ version of the influencing machine was called an “Air Loom,” and it was operated from a distance by a group of spies named “the Middleman,” “the Glove Woman,” “Sir Archy,” and “Bill” AKA “the King.” The machine’s torments included reading minds, inserting unwanted thoughts, and doing inconceivable things to the body such as blocking blood flow with magnetism.
Paranoid schizophrenics report an almost identical pattern of delusions, as if multiple minds had the exact same nightmare. There is always a shadowy group with psychic weapons, who are blamed for nearly all of society’s ills – both the tormentors of Mr. Matthews and the Deros of Shavers’ stories were supposed to be bent on taking over the world and destroying humanity, using their thought-bending powers to cause assassinations, wars, and huge tragic disasters.
Yet another version of an influencing machine set-up appears in the later works of legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Starting around the time of the novel VALIS, Dick asserted that an alien consciousness was communicating telepathically with him, through a “Vast Active Living Intelligence System.”
The fact that P.K. Dick wrote so many revered works of classic sci-fi including the novels that became the basis for the blockbuster films Blade Runner and Total Recall, indicates that maybe he had a tinge of schizophrenia enhancing his imagination the whole time, and certainly that his lucid awareness of sci-fi genre tropes allowed him to recognize the fabric of this delusion, and yet cruelly, was not enough to prevent his succumbing to it.
If you’re beginning to suspect that at least as far as the “hollow Earth” conspiracy goes, we finally know how one popular delusion got started: Ding you are correct!
In fact, we have ready evidence of more collective shared delusions taking form right now. The Internet-infamous Mandela Effect, which manifests itself in huge collective false memories of Nelson Mandela dying in jail (he didn’t), mistitling of the children’s book series The Berenstain Bears (it wasn’t) and the existence of a ’90s comedy movie called “Shazam” where the comedian Sinbad played a genie (nope). The thing is, even when confronted with hard evidence that a memory is false, people will double down and insist, nope, time travelers must have changed it!
After Palmer had quit his editor job in solidarity with Shaver, he went on to take up interest in Deros-encoded hieroglyphs on rocks, which, in Shaver terms, form a “rock book.” Collecting these rock books, he formed a lending library for true believers.
As for schizophrenics and their influencing machines? Well, they’re still out there. As are the Shaver true believers. Doubtless we’re all familiar with some of the more modern-day interpretations of the same base ideas, spread more easily through the Internet now than ever before. Some even go so far as to mobilize together in groups to insist that they’re the sane ones, and the rest of us live in delusion.
The Shaver story and the prevalence of influencing machines suggests only two possibilities: Either the human mind can be affected by a disease whose symptoms are so precise that identical delusions occur in multiple patients, or else there really are lizard-people and whatnot assaulting us with psychic weapons and we treat our few “woke” individuals like the crazy people.
Both of those possibilities are eerie. By one account, Shaver during his wandering years was arrested for vagrancy, but the hallucination of a beautiful woman that he had been experiencing also appeared to a jail guard who was persuaded to release Shaver. Are shared delusions that powerful? Somewhere between psychedelic drug effects, hypnosis, and very good storytelling could lie a kind of magic power to conjure hallucinations in another person’s mind. Yet make them so indelible that they stay there.
Us creative people worry about this sort of thing. It’s a power that’s fun to play with for about five minutes until, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, it gets out of control. Maybe it was never under our control to begin with.
It’s things like this that can make the rest of us begin to doubt our grip on reality.
Shaver wasn’t the only one with a cult…
Let’s not forget two other sci-fi authors who had an unusual effect on their fans in the mid-20th-century. One was Robert A. Heinlein, who came this close to founding a cult in his book Stranger in a Strange Land.
And the other science fiction author who influenced a wide audience to adopt his unique vision of reality? You might have heard of him. He was L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
“The Alien Abduction of Sergeant Moody” posted at Anomalien
“The Shaver Mystery” by Penguin Pete for GeekyDomain.com
“The Witch of Scrapf*gg*t Green” by Willow Winsham for Folklore Thursday
“A Brief History of Time Machines” posted in Forbes
“Patrick Cross and His Devil Guitar” posted at Anomalien
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” – Hebrews 13:5-6
And a final thought… “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” – Albert Einstein
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.