Who doesn't love a good ghost story? Over the past few years I've visited some spooky and unusual places around the world and I've heard my fair share of ghost stories. Every culture has their own stories and it's interesting – and terrifying – to hear them. I don't claim to be an expert in the paranormal, but some people consider me their "go-to guy" for anything spooky.
Some of their stories I've heard before, like the Headless Horseman or the Terracotta Army, but some I have not. I tried to pick some lesser known ones for this article, but you may know some of them anyway. Let me know in the comments how many you knew.
The Hands Resist Him Painting
In 1972 Bill Stoneham created one of his most famous paintings, The Hands Resist Him. This painting shows a young boy and a doll standing in front of a glass panelled door. The boy, Stoneham says, is supposed to represent his childhood, while the doll – who has hollowed out eyes and a downward smile – is to represent his guardian between the worlds of fantasy and reality. Behind the figures, on the other side of the door, are several floating, disembodied hands, attempting to reach the two figures.
The painting may appear spooky, but Stoneham claims it is supposed to symbolise the barrier between reality and fantasy and life and death. The story goes that after Stoneham sold the painting, the owner, an art critic and a gallery owner who had it later all passed away within a year of purchasing the painting.
In 2000 the painting appeared on eBay with claims that not only did the previous owners die, but also that the characters in the painting moved on their own. These claims said that upon occasion the doll would threaten the boy or take him behind the glass door where the ghostly hands were able to wrap around him.
The panting's opening bid was $199 ($277 today) but eventually sold for $1,025 ($1,426). The buyer then contacted Stoneham and told him about the stories and strange interpretations. Stoneham was surprised by the claims that the figures moved but did verify that the first owner and art critic had died following their purchase of the painting.
Since creating the painting, Stoneham has created two sequels, Resistance at the Threshold and Threshold of Revelation. In 2012 he made a prequel called The Hands Invent Him, which showed the disembodied hands in the original painting belonged to himself, Bill Stoneham.
Have you ever heard of a siesta? For those who don't know, a "siesta" is a mid-afternoon nap, originating from the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. As somebody who gets tired everyday right around three in the afternoon, a siesta always sounds like a wonderful idea and is something I think more people should try doing.
But, what happens to those who don't want to have a snooze in the middle of the day? You might get a little more work done, or you might be visited by Jasy Jatere, the god of the siesta.
According to Guarani tradition in Paraguay, Jasy Jatere is one of the seven "cursed children" of their religion. Jasy Jatere appears as a young man, or even a child, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He is often invisible to adults, but frequently appears before children – especially those who have trouble falling asleep.
Some legends claim that Jasy Jatere takes these children to the forest to play and feeds them honey and fruit. Once they grow full and tired, he transports them back to bed with no memory of what happened.
Other legends say, however, that Jasy Jatere will kidnap the children and take them to the forest to imprison them. After he grows bored of them, he scoops their eyes out and releases them to find their way back home. For the very unfortunate children, Jasy Jatere scoops out their eyes and then feeds the blind children to his monstrous brother Ao Ao, a sheep-like creature with a taste for human flesh.
Of the above options, I think it safest just to have that afternoon nap.
Deer Woman (Taxti Wau)
Reported by the Sioux, Ojibwe, Ponca, Cherokee, Muskogee, Choctaw and many other First Nations people, the Deer Woman is a reported half-woman, half-deer spirit. Some reports claim she can be chased way with chanting and tobacco, while others say her spells of uncontrollable lust can be broken by looking at her cloven hooves.
Like sirens and succubus in other cultures, the Deer Woman is known to seduce men and lead them into the wild to die. Those who are strong willed and resist her urge have been said to fall in love with her, and slowly waste away as they long for her return.
In 2009 a short documentary was made sharing some of the stories of the Deer Woman by various First Nations people. Is the story true, or just a legend? I'll let you decide.
The Weeping Woman (La Llorona)
The origin story of La Llorona is lost to time, but some report it goes back before the Spanish conquest. The legend begins with a beautiful young woman named Maria that lived in a small village somewhere in Central America. One day a wealthy nobleman came travelled through the village and saw Maria. He was immediately taken back by her beauty and fell in love with her. Thrilled that a nobleman had intereste in her, Maria immediately agreed to marry him, and about a year later they gave birth to twins.
Maria's husband travelled often and wasn't home most days. When he was home, he slowly began to spend less and less time with Maria and more time with the children. Maria feared he was falling out of love with her, and one day her fears came true when he went out to work and never returned.
Years passed and one day Maria was out walking with her children and saw a familiar man, arm-in-arm with a much younger woman and their child. Realising this man was her husband and that her fears had come true, Maria filled with rage. She picked up her small children and threw them into the river, drowning them both. After realising what she had done, Maria was filled with grief and jumped into the river too, hoping to die alongside her children and end her pain.
She would die, but she was not allowed to entre paradise. As she stood at the threshold to it, she was challenged as to the location of her children. Unable to explain why they had not yet arrived in paradise, she was forbidden to enter until they were found, and was sent back to the world of the living. Upon returning, she was saddened by her lost and began crying. This earned her the name The Weeping Woman, or La Llorona.
It is said La Llorona approaches young children that play near the river and asks them for their forgiveness. Before they have a chance to respond, she then drags them into the water and drowns them, hoping they will take the place of her own children. Some say that those what hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death.
Interesting enough, this story matches very closely to the story of Isla de las Muñecas, which is in a canal system near Mexico City. The story also includes drowned children and restless spirts, so if you haven't read it, be sure to check it out.
When I was younger I wasn't a big fan of oranges. I liked orange juice, but not the texture of oranges, or those weird white strands that cover them. Instead of eating them, I would pierce them with my teeth and suck the juice out of them. Once they were white and dried up, I would move onto the next one.
El Chupacabra is kind of like this, but instead of sucking juice out of oranges, he sucks blood out of goats, and instead of leaving a pile of dried fruit, he leaves behind a pile of dried husks.
The Chupacabra was first reported in 1995 in Puerto Rico after eight sheep were found dried of their blood. Several months after the original account, a woman named Madelyne Tolentino saw the creature during a string of events in her local town. During this event, over 150 farm animals and pets were killed by this mysterious beast.
Tolentino's description of the creature claimed it to be a reptile-like in appearance, with leathery green or grey skin, and sharp spines running down its back. It is said to be about 3 to 4 feet tall and hopped around like a kangaroo.
After Tolentino's shared her story, reports began popping up throughout the Americas, ranging from the Dominican Republic to Chile to the United States and even Russia. In 2011 Tolentino's story was debunked, as her description of the creature matched the creature Sil from the television serious Species, which had come out around the same time as the attack.
But other reports continued, this time claiming the creature looked like a dog, wolf or coyote. Yet, no research has been able to determine what it might be. Biologists from the University of Michigan believe it to be a coyote infected with a parasite, while others thing they could just be malnourished wild dogs with patchy hair and grey skin.
Regardless of the truth behind the created, the Chupacabra has now become a common legend throughout South and American.
They say hope was the last thing to die in Auschwitz.
It's been just over 70 years since the Allies liberated the death camp and the horrors of the "Final Solution" were revealed to the world. Prior to their arrival, Auschwitz was the most effective death camp ever created, having taken the lives of over 1.1 million Jews.
Block 4 of Auschwitz holds the museum, explaining the best it can about what happened seven decades past. The museum explains what Auschwitz was originally built for – a camp for Polish prisoners of war – and how it became key to the Nazi's "Final Solution". The museum goes over the construction of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the increased sizes and effectiveness of gas chambers and the factories of death that stood and smoked over the camp during its operation.
Those who attended my Chernobyl lecture at the Queen City Collective earlier in May would have heard me singing praises about HBO's new miniseries Chernobyl, and for good reason. HBO did a fantastic job on the miniseries by immersing the audience into mid-1980s Soviet Ukraine and by peeling back the layers of the disaster.
With that said, there were some liberties HBO took while making the show. As somebody who spent two days in the Exclusion Zone in 2016, I know a thing or two about how the events unfolded, and a few parts of the miniseries weren't accurate.
Chernobyl began by tackling a nearly impossible task. The miniseries had to break down one of the largest cover-ups in human history. They had to show the devastation of the world's deadliest nuclear disaster and also highlight the many countless heroes who stepped up to make a difference. It's natural to expect HBO to simplify this – and they only had five episodes to do it. I don't blame them for some of these mistakes, but I felt they should be pointed out.
When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.
My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.
I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.