A weird and wild Halloween
Barn owls are probably first choice as natural banshees. A fleeting glimpse of a white form with dark eyes in a flat face, combined with the alarm call, described in Collins Bird Guide as ‘a shrill, hoarse, rather spooky squeal’ or the territorial call, ‘a drawn out rattling or gargling shriek … often repeated’, combined with a superstitious mindset, would be enough to scare the pants off the most stalwart.
The Famous Fight Over the Turn-of-the-Century Trend of Spirit Photography
In 1923 and 1924, Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini both toured the United States. They both sold out theaters, often in the same city within days of one another, and neither of them was offering crowds what they were most famous for. The author was not there to tell tales of Sherlock Holmes, and the magician did not execute his most daring illusions or escapes. Instead, spectators filled the seats to hear lectures—lectures about communing with the dead.
Disease, Demons, and Discord—How the Vampire Myth Was Born
The vampire is a common image in today’s pop culture, and one that takes many forms: from Alucard, the dashing spawn of Dracula in the PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, to Edward, the romantic, idealistic lover in the Twilight series.
In many respects, the vampire of today is far removed from its roots in Eastern European folklore. As a professor of Slavic studies who has taught a course on vampires called “Dracula” for more than a decade, I’m always fascinated by the vampire’s popularity, considering its origins—as a demonic creature strongly associated with disease.
The Fortunes of Mother Shipton
The story of Mother Shipton, as well as being a window on the past, is a mirror in which modern capitalism is reflected. It looks like one of the more solid of English legends: she has approximate dates; she is claimed by a definite place, Knaresborough; and she even has her own tourist attraction, in Mother Shipton’s Cave. But the closer we get, the more elusive she becomes. After picking over her bones, it turns out that the really interesting story is about the creation and promotion of folklore in the service of money-making and the marketplace. A tale that may be more common than we think…
Why Were These Mysterious Stone Orbs Stashed All Over Neolithic Britain?
“What we discovered was an exceptionally well-preserved monument,” says Hugo Anderson-Whymark, a curator of prehistory at National Museums Scotland who co-led the research. There were no remains, but inside the monument were a couple rare finds: two polished stone balls, each about the size of a tennis ball.
Misogyny in Fairy Tales?
I can’t argue that there is no misogyny in fairy tales, any more than I can argue that it doesn’t exist in real life, but I do know that there are plenty of active, admirable female characters in fairy tales, many of whom are unknown to the general public.
Medieval Manuscript Fragments Discovered in Bristol Tell of Merlin the Magician From Arthurian Legend
Medieval manuscript fragments discovered in Bristol that tell part of the story of Merlin the magician, one of the most famous characters from Arthurian legend, have been identified by academics from the Universities of Bristol and Durham as some of the earliest surviving examples of that section of the narrative.
Arthur Rackham’s Rare and Revolutionary 1917 Illustrations for the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales
Amid the thickest darkness of World War I, a luminous beacon of the magical inside the macabre.
How Arthur Rackham’s 1907 Drawings for Alice in Wonderland Revolutionized the Carroll Classic, the Technology of Book Art, and the Economics of Illustration
In the 150 years since Lewis Carroll first told the story of Wonderland to the real-life Alice, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has attracted a number of stunning visual interpretations ranging from Salvador Dalí to Yayoi Kusama, but none more influential than those Arthur Rackham (September 19, 1867–September 6, 1939) created in 1907.
Some Haunted Trees in the United States
According to folklore, people are advised to touch wood when threatened by evil. What should one do when the wood itself is the source of evil? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out (Knock on wood! Sorry.). For now, we can explore haunted trees from the safety of our own computers.