Hope Diamond

Are diamonds a girl’s best friend? Maybe, maybe not if the diamond we are talking about is the Hope Diamond – a forty-five carat blue diamond that for more than a century supposedly bore a curse that brought death and misfortune to the people who owned it.

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Coming from the Golkonda mines in India, it was bought by the French merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. According to some Jean-Baptiste removed the diamond from the eye of a Hindu statue sparking the wrath of the gods, who cursed the stone and all those who owned it. Immediately after Tavernier went bankrupt and tried to rebuild his fortune starting from India, but never reached his destination because he died during the trip.

King Louis XIV bought the stone from Tavernier and had it recut in 1673. It was then known as “The Blue Diamond of the Crown” or the “French Blue”. King Louis died of gangrene and all of his legitimate children died in childhood, except for one. Nicholas Fouquet who worked for King Louis XIV, is said to have worn the diamond for some special occasion. Shortly thereafter, he fell out of favor with the king and was banished from France. The Louis changed this sentence to life imprisonment, so Fouquet spent 15 years in the fortress of Pignerol.

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The diamond was then donated to Marie Antoinette and… well, we all know what happened to her and her husband Louis XVIbeheaded during the French Revolution. Eventually the diamond was stolen along with other jewels and precious objects. It then passed into the hands of a jeweler who died of a heart attack as soon as the stone was stolen (according to other sources he died when he discovered that the thief was none other than his son). The son of the jeweler, the alleged perpetrator of the theft,  when he knew he was the cause of his father’s death committed suicide. His friend, who had found the diamond among the property left unattended, died after a short time. 

The gemstone quickly passed from hand to hand and reached London, the English nobleman Lord Francis Hope, VIII Duke of Newcastle, paid an exorbitant amount of money for the gem andbaptize” it with his name, but – if you want to give credit to the supposed curse did he regret it, almost immediately after having received the stone the relationship with his wife gone bad and the pair split up. The woman, Mary Yohe, an American actress and singer of musicals, fell into poverty, while the Lord Francis Hope hastened to get rid of the diamond.

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Evalyn Walsh McLean was a spoiled heiress who lived a charmed life… until she bought the diamond. She happily wore the diamond and there are stories that she would even affix the jewel to her dog’s collar and let him wander around the apartment with it. But wearing the Hope Diamond came at a steep price: first her mother-in-law died, her son died at the age of nine, her husband left her for another woman and later died in a mental hospital, her daughter died of a drug overdose at 25 and she eventually had to sell her newspaper ““ the Washington Post – and died owing huge debts. Evalyn’s surviving kids sold the diamond to Harry Winston. Nine years later, Winston mailed the gem to the Smithsonian for $2.44 in postage and $155 in insurance. The mailman who delivered the diamond to the Smithsonian, apparently had his leg crushed in a truck accident shortly thereafter. He also suffered a head injury in a separate accident.

The Hope Diamond is preserved at the Smithsonian Museum, kept on public display in a glass case. Today the sky-blue gem is worth a quarter of a billion dollars.

I wonder if even writing about the diamond can make you fall under the umbrella of the curse?

I HOPE you’ll be hearing from me again…

Elle. xx

The Midnight Society #4: Casa Matusita

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The entire web is full of urban legends that tell of gruesome events taking place in abandoned homes. Homes surrounded by an halo of mystery by the testimonies of people who claim to have seen shadows behind the windows, hearing terrifying screams or worse, to have seen several ghosts wandering aimlessly along the corridors.

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Very superstitious

Hello my lovely weirdos! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time (or whatever event you have celebrated..or not celebrated). During these days I’ve read tons of ancient superstions that I found very interesting, so I’ve decided to gather them in this post. Well, probably I should’ve warned you before Christmas, let’s just hope you didn’t pissed off any evil force.

  • We all tend to spend Christmas Eve with our family, furry friends included, and stay up until midnight, but a legend has it that our feline friends acquire the power of speech at this time so anyone hearing this temporary “cat speak” will soon die.

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  • If you plan on hosting a Christmas dinner at your home, make sure you invite an even number of guests because a table set for an odd number merely invites bad luck or even death in the new year.
  • Those who are born on Christmas Eve turn into ghosts on that day every year while they sleep. If you were born on Christmas Eve and don’t want to have this happen to you, the remedy is to count the holes in a sieve from 11 o’clock on Christmas Eve until morning.
  • If you carry in your pocket a scale from a fish eaten at Christmas, your purse will be full all year.
  • An English superstition says that if you don’t give a pair of shoes to a poor person at least once in your lifetime, you will enter the next world barefoot. This leads to an influx of shoes being donated to charity shops at Christmas time.

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  • It’s unlucky to light a Yule Candle before supper on Christmas. It’s also unlucky to buy your own Yule candle or to snuff it before Christmas Eve ends, it should be left to burn itself out. If the candle is disturbed or snuffed out, back luck will befall the household. A portion of the candle should be kept to light the following years candle for good luck. A candle or lamp must be burned all night on Christmas Eve or there will be a death in the home.
  • The last day to indulge your Christmas time superstition is Candlemas (Feb. 2). Christmas decorations must be entirely taken down before the twelfth night after Christmas or goblins and bad luck will come. But be careful what you burn: it’s unlucky to burn Christmas greenery (except for mistletoe). Every leaf left up after Candlemas will result in either a goblin seen or a death in the house during the year.

Now, as we’re getting closer to New Year’s eve, here’s a list of superstitions that surround this day:

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  • We kiss those dearest to us at midnight not only to share a moment of celebration with our favorite people, but also to ensure those affections and ties will continue throughout the next twelve months. To fail to smooch our significant others at the stroke of twelve would be to set the stage for a year of coldness.
  • Make sure to do — and be successful at — something related to your work on the first day of the year, even if you don’t go near your place of employment that day. Limit your activity to a token amount, though, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky
  • At midnight, all the doors of a house must be opened to let the old year escape unimpeded. It must leave before the New Year comes in, says popular wisdom, so doors are flung open to assist it in finding its way out.
  • Italian people welcome the New Year in an extremely interesting way, by tossing old things out of their windows! Old things are tossed out in an effort to make room for the new and lucky to enter their households and lives in the year to come.
  • Lucky foods which should be consumed on New Years Eve is lentil soup and pork. Chicken should not be eaten on the first day of the year or you will have financial difficulties for the rest of the year.
  • Whatever a person does on this day will influence his activity for the rest of the year. Therefore to wash clothes will bring a year of hard
    work. Washing may also cause a relative’s death. Certain tasks were not to be done between Christmas and New Year’s Day–among them were knitting, sewing and doing the family laundry.
  • Crying on the first day of the year must be avoided. One must always be happy and in good spirits on New Year’s day. If you cry on New Years’ for a sad reason you will have sadness all throughout the year.

I’m sure I’m missing a few, please let me know if you have some interesting New Year’s eve/New Year’s day traditions that I might have missed. I do hope that you’re going to have a wonderful new year, that you’re going to realize all of your projects and dreams… weird dreams as well! Thank you all for keeping me company during this 2015, not the most exciting year for me, but definitely quite interesting!

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Elle. xx

 

 

…so be good for Krampus’s sake!

Hey! I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted anything during this time but life is getting pretty hectic. I’m studying a lot and Christmas is getting closer so it’s all pure madness. I’ve never really liked this time of the year, I’ve always been the “Grinch” of the situation, who knows why?! But honestly, I can’t wait for this year to be over. Who’s with me?
Speaking of Christmas, with all its traditions around the globe, this year Krampus is having his/its big Hollywood time! I’ve seen Krampus themed things in every social network so out of curiosity I did some research about this all creepy topic.

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The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good, so as to deserve their Christmas gifts from Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, often come with a dark side: the punishment you’ll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you are not good! The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December.

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Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology, including satyrs and fauns. Krampus night is celebrated on December 5th, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior. The tradition is spreading beyond Europe, many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights including the Krampusfest in Los Angeles!

So, have you been a good kid for this year?

Elle. x

The ghost who walks in the picture.

Here we are with another spooky story. It is quite old but I still find it fascinating, mainly because I have a “thing” for old pictures. Little fact about me: I find old photographs so interesting that I actually collect them!

I’m not 100% sure if this story is real or it is the nth urban legend, but I thought it would have been interesting to share it anyway.

1997. Rory O’Donoghue works at a photo lab in Cork, northwest of Ireland, between green fields, farming villages and industrial landscapes. Rory has a passion for photography so he decides to go it alone and taking over a photo lab that had been closed for years. During the renovation of the store Rory found an envelope with an old roll of film inside. There’s a date wtitten on the envelope “July ’65”. The film was used, so out of curiosity Rory develops itthe film contains a single photo. It is the picture of an old cottage, like the many other you can find in the irish coutryside.

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Anyway, Rory decides to print the negative and do an enlargement of the photograph. The photo wasn’t anything exceptional but its apparent normality had something magnetic. He then placed the picture in an envelope and returned back home.

But around midnight he noticed that something in the photograph is “different”. The picture is no longer the same as a human figure appeared in it. In complete disbelief of what happened runs to take his camera to take some snapshots of the strange effect

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After a few hours he noticed that the figure in the picture moved again assuming the feature of a woman dressed in black. Increasingly amazed, he continued to take snapshots all night. The human figure in the picture kept moving very slowly, stabilizing every hour.

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It’s been a really scary night for Rory, to the point of making him tell everything to his wife and to a few close family members, afraid of not being believed.

Only in 2007, the grandson of Rory D. who was on a trip in the countryside of Cork, next to a Medieval church and an abandoned cemetery saw a building that was somehow familiar. So he asked some questions around and learned that it had been the residence of a very noble family, the Brandville. The last male heir, as an infant, had mysteriously disappeared in the night of his crib. The mother committed suicide in that house while his father, mad, remained in the cottage until his death. The cottage is still there, in the countryside of Cork in a state of neglect and the picture is still in plain view hung on a wall of Rory’s house.

Elle. xx

Creepy Fact #8: Human Pillar (Hitobashira)

Japan is a country with some really creepy, bizarre yet captivating past. Picking just one story was very difficult as Japan has a lot to offer in terms of spooky stories and urban legends (and movies! I highly recommend watching Hausu. It’s just a weird masterpiece, but I loved it a lot!). Domo arigato Japan!

Ancient Japanese believed that using human skeletons or parts of their bodies in construction would yield a strong support to the buildings. They also believed that the use of human skeletons would serve as a sacrifice to the gods and thus render more stability to the architecture, this practice is called Hitobashira.

Bones and other remains have been found on-site of several different locations, lending at least some possibility that human sacrifice may have been involved in the making of some buildings: this include the Maruoka Castle and the Jomon Tunnel. Train drivers have reported hearing ghostly noises under the tunnel, which is believed to be the screams of those who were buried in the walls to support the foundations.

Stories of hitobashira and other human sacrifices were common in Japan as late as the sixteenth century, needless to say that currently, hitobashira is no longer practiced in construction.

Elle. x

Creepy Fact #7: Hairy Hands

Hairy hands is the name given to a ghost believed by some to be responsible for the high number of motor accidents on a stretch of road in Dartmoor. Many drivers have reported feeling a hand take hold of their steering wheel and forcing their vehicle off the road.

According to the story surrounding them, the Hairy Hands are a pair of disembodied hands that appear suddenly, grab at the steering wheel of a moving car or the handlebars of a motorcycle, and then force the victim off the road. In some cases the hands are described as being invisible. That’s the story that’s been repeated many times since the first incident in 1921, when a Dartmoor Prison guard was killed as his motorcycle went out of control and crashed.

This happend again when another motorcyclist were driven off the road at the same spot, this time the passenger saw a large hairy hand grab the handlebar and forcibly crash the bike. In one incident, in 1924, a woman camping on the moor with her husband reported seeing a hairy hand attempting to gain access to her caravan during the night, she reported that the hand retreated after she made the sign of the Cross.

Most variations of the legend of the Hairy Hands do not specify the origins of the hands or attribute to them any specific purpose, other than driving motorists off the road. A few local versions of the story attribute the hands to an unnamed man who died in an accident on the road, the ghost of a deceased Dartmoor Prison inmate or an evil spirit wandering the moor. Well, whatever it is be careful if you find yourself driving in that place.

Elle. x

Gloomy Sunday – The Song That Kills.

Heartbreaks can cause despair, especially when you break up with someone you really love.

When Rezsö Seress, a hungarian composer (1899-1968), has been left by his girlfriend because of his lack of professional success and his stubbornness in wanting to continue in the musical career despite failures, he composed a very sad song called “Szomorú Vasárnap“, which means “Gloomy Sunday”. This song had a huge success, and is known as the suicide song.
The first documented case occured in Budapest: the shoemaker Joseph Keller was found dead in his home, it was immediately clear that it was a suicide. The police discovered near the body a farewell letter in which he quoted the words of Gloomy Sunday. This song had claimed its first victim.
There were at least 17 of these dark connections between suicides and Gloomy Sunday. In most cases, the victims had committed suicide by jumping into the Danube River carrying a copy of the song, so for this reason, throughout Hungary, the song was banned.
Seress driven by the fame reached, decided to recontact his former girlfriend to show her that his perseverance was rewarded but a few days later she was found dead and next to her body was found a note where it was written Gloomy Sunday.

Due to these unfortunate events the song reached a big success that it was released throughout the rest of the Europe, here too there were reports of strange events related to its listening. Berlin, Rome, London, this song was claiming victims everywhere. The bad reputation of Gloomy Sunday all over Europe, and the increase of suicides in England, led the BBC to prohibit the transmission in its listings and even nightclubs, pubs and many other followed the example. This ban remained in place until 2002. The same thing happened in France and in other countries.

The reputation of this song spreads even more so that the Chappell & Company took charge of its release in America and, even if translated in english, in May 1936, a young boy was found dead on the night of the prom. A friend interviewed shortly after the fact said that before the young man had said: “It’s a gloomy sunday, I’ll do it tonight.”
In any case, the infamous reputation did not discourage the success of the song and an increasing number of artists became interested in the case, so that from 1940 onwards Gloomy Sunday is included in the repertoire of the biggest names in music. What is certain is that from Billie Holiday on, the widespread version is no longer the cursed” lyrics composed by Seress but it has a sweetened” text. 
As for the suicides, some people think it was a “coincidence”, other people think it might be a copycat suicide phenomenon known as the “Werther Effect” following Goethe‘s novel The Sorrow of Young Werther ( Die Leiden des jungen Werthers). In the novel, Werther shoots himself with a pistol after he is rejected by the woman he loves, and shortly after its publication there were many reports of young men using the same method to kill themselves in an act of hopelessness, hence the name Werther effect.
However, the same Seress fell victim of his song, never gone to the US to collect the money of the copyright of his worldwide hit, he spent his life in poverty and depression, throwing himself from the window of his apartment in Budapest in 1968.
 Elle. x

OH LOOK… A TIME MACHINE!

Located in London’s Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Brompton Cemetery is arguably one of the most stunning Victorian cemeteries in the world. It opened in 1840 and was originally known as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery. Consecrated by the Bishop of London in June 1840, it is one of Britain’s oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries and houses 35,000 monuments, from simple headstones to substantial mausolea, mark the resting place of more than 205,000 burials.

Half-hidden amongst the shrubbery, one very mysterious mausoleum, which is believed to be a Time Machine.

An imposing construction, decorated with elaborate Egyptian-like figures, houses a mysterious trio of spinsters about whom almost nothing is known.  The wealthy Courtoy spinsters, an unmarried mother and her two daughters are reputed to be buried inside, but the key is missing and the huge bronze door has not been opened in more than 120 years.  Nor can any plans can be found for the mausoleum, setting it apart from other structures in Brompton cemetery, which required careful planning and schematics to be approved.

The imposing trapezoid of dark polished granite is twenty feet tall and decorated with narrow bands of carved hieroglyphics – not surprising, when one discovers that the builders of the mausoleum were Samuel Warner, an english inventor, and Joseph Bonomi, an architect and Egyptologist.

Bonomi was part of the team that first deciphered the hieroglyphic texts found on papyri in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.  Some speculate that the text he studied discussed the possibility of time travel, a topic which fascinated the Victorians.

At the time of his death, Samuel Warner was in negotiations over his plans for aerial bombs and sea mines with Duke of Wellington, and his unmarked grave lies nearby.  Sixty feet away, Bonomi’s gravestone bears similar hieroglyphic carvings to those found on the mausoleum, including a portrait of the Egyprian God Anubis, Protector of the Dead.  Anubis appears to be sitting on a depiction of the mausoleum and staring in its direction.

To add to the mystery of the site, some people believe that Samuel Warner was either murdered to prevent his designs for weapons falling into the wrong hands, or by someone who stole them from his dead body. Others believe that Warner was a fraud and a charlatan whose inventions never worked.

Together, Bonomi and Warner may have developed plans to build a time machine, and gathered financial support for their venture from the wealthy, eccentric Courtoy ladies.

Maybe the women wanted to cheat death and travel into the future.  Perhaps they felt no one would suspect that a building in an isolated corner of a graveyard could be an experimental doorway through time.  After death, they vanished as surely from the face of the world as if they had stepped out of this era and into another, for there is also almost no trace of the Courtoy spinsters; they left no records of their existence, even though the opulence of their tomb suggests they were immensely wealthy.

In 1853 as the Courtoy mausoleum was completed, the Irish Peer Francis Jack Needham, the 2nd Earl Kilmorey, sought permission to build an Egyptian-style mausoleum in Brompton Cemetery for his mistress, Priscilla Hoste.  After much quibbling and at great expense, the Kilmorey mausoleum was built, but frustrated by persistent bureaucratic red tape, Needham moved it to the grounds of his house at Chertsey Park in Weybridge in 1863.  Why did the cemetery officials give Needham such a difficult time?  Perhaps they felt that one mysterious, eccentric Egyptian-style time machine on their grounds was quite enough?!

Kilmorey Mausoleum

Elle. x

Ignis Fatuus

Why having explained certain kind of phenomena in a scientific way when you can have a more interesting and fanciful version? In this case folklore does help a lot!

Science explains the Will O’ The Wisp (or Ignis Fatuus – Latin for “foolish fire”) event as atmospherical lights hoovering over marshes, cemeteries and bogs caused by burning gases that develops from the breakdown of organic matter in wet areas.

But, as for me, I really do prefer folkloristic “explainations” when these lights are often attributed  to mischievous spirits attempting to lead travelers astray and where we can read about ghosts, fairies and even the Devil himself. Sometimes the lights are believed to be the spirits of unbaptized or stillborn children, flitting between heaven and hell.

So, lets’ start with Europe: in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Ireland it is believed that these lights mark the location of a treasure deep in ground or water; or as the Finnish mythology says there are spots where an eternal flame associated with will o’ the wisps burns, called Aarnivalkea where you could find fairies gold.

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