; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Daily 2 Cents: Holy Grail in North America? -- Modern Russia's Psychic Obsession -- Tallest Meets Shortest

Do Spirit Pond Inscriptions Show That the Holy Grail Was Taken to North America?

Forensic geologist, Scott Wolter, has put forward a radical new theory concerning a set of three inscribed stones found near Spirit Pond in Phippsburg more than 40 years ago. According to Wolter, the controversial stones are evidence that the Knights Templar fled Europe for North America after their persecution in 1307, bringing with them the Holy Grail.

The Spirit Pond rune stones, as they are often called, were found in 1971 by a Walter J. Elliott, Jr., a carpenter born in Bath, Maine. The stones, currently housed at the Maine State Museum, have been dismissed by some scientists as a hoax or a fraud, but others maintain that they are authentic and provide evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact and Norse colonisation of the Americas.

The mysterious stones measure about six by eleven inches. One stone features a rough map on one side and inscriptions on the other. The second stone bore a dozen letters on one side, and the third contained a long message of sixteen lines neatly inscribed on both sides of the stone.

Upon finding the stones, Walter Elliott took them to the Bath Maritime Museum, where director Harold Brown suggested that the marks might be in the Norse runic alphabet. Subsequently, the stones found their way to Einar Haugen, Harvard professor of Scandinavian languages and history. In his published evaluation, he was adamant the stones were a fraud and dismissed them as “gibberish”. Continue reading at The Epoch Times


Widow digs up husband’s body before dumping coffin on roadside

A grieving widow faces jail after exhuming the corpse of her dead husband before dumping his coffin on the roadside and attempting to smuggle his body across a border.

Verica Zunjic, 60, had driven 230 miles from her home in the town of Doboj, Bosnia, to Danilovgrad, Montenegro, where her husband Milograd was buried in a family plot.

It is thought that she had fallen out with her late husband’s family and wanted his resting place to be closer to home.

After sneaking into the graveyard where he was buried, she continued to exhume his body by digging up his coffin, before putting it in the back of her car and attempting to head home.

She had faced difficulty in closing the boot once her husband’s body was inside the vehicle and had consequently laid him on the back seat, hoping to tell border officials that he was sleeping.

However, fellow motorists became suspicious when Mrs Zunjic was spotted pulling over and opening the coffin, before putting her husband’s body in the car.

Her plan came undone when she was stopped by a police patrol a few miles down the road, after police were able to survey CCTV footage to identify the pensioner.

A police spokesman said: ‘When officers stopped her she denied any wrong-doing and said she was “just taking what was rightfully hers”.

‘Unfortunately, exhuming a corpse without official permission is illegal, no matter what the reasons.’ - Metro


Tallest & Shortest Men Meet

The remarkable meeting of opposite extremes was organized to celebrate Guinness World Records Day.

Sultan Kosen of Turkey, the tallest man in the world at 2.51m in height, attended the event in London where he shook hands with Nepal's Chandra Bahadur Dangi, the world's smallest man who measures just 55 centimeters tall.

"I was very interested how tall he was going to be, about how far up my legs he would go, and of course once I saw him I realized how tiny he was," said Kosen who also holds the world record for the world's largest hands.

"Even though he is short and I am tall, we have had similar struggles throughout our lives and when I look into Chandra's eyes I can see he is a good man."

His counterpart Mr Dangi, who is now 74, barely reached his knees when standing up.

"I was very pleased to see the tallest man in the world, I was curious to meet my extreme opposite," he said. "I'm so pleased to be a Guinness record holder. Thanks to this I have visited many countries and met many people. I really love it."


Modern Russia's obsession with psychics and the occult

Modern Russia is, apparently, a hotbed of psychic activity. Recent reports have estimated that Russia's psychic industry is worth between $15 million and $2 billion. These aren't super-reliable figures, but that they exist at all indicates the scale of psychic devotion in Russia. A new book, by freelance journalist Marc Bennetts, explores the scale of this phenomenon — and the reasons behind it.

In a tweet advertising his book, Bennetts advertises stories of "Kremlin-backed psychics, 'resurrections' for $1,500 a corpse, [and] urban witches with too much make-up." His previous reporting on Russia's psychic underground, like this piece in Sabotage Magazine last year, certainly delivers some equally crazy stories:

"Town halls that had once hosted Communist Party meetings [and] now saw sorcerers armed with ouija boards attempting to conjure up Lenin's spirit."
A Moscow witch who promised that her "mixture of psychic and magical abilities as yet unknown to science" could help a client land a promotion (maximum six year guarantee).

Since 2008, the Russian government has required an official license to advertise any services as "magic." In other words, the Russian state is formally licensing magicians, as well as any sorcerers, wizards, witches, or other characters who would like to sell themselves as performing magic. But it does not require a license to advertise "paranormal" services.

So why is this so prevalent?

The basic explanation offered by Bennets and others has to do with Soviet communism's collapse. Since the Warsaw Pact began falling apart in the late 80s, large numbers of Russians turned to psychic and spiritual beliefs to make up for the ideological void that communism left.

Take faith healer Anatoly Kashpirovsky, who first became famous in October 1989. Kashpirovsky "would appeal to viewers to place pots and pans full of water by their television sets during his show, so that their contents would be charged with healing properties by being exposed to his waves of telepathic energy," Radio Free Europe correspondent Tom Balmforth writes in Russia Profile. According to Balmforth, a 1990 poll found that 52.3 percent of respondents believed that Kashpirovsky's techniques could cure illnesses. - VOX


Murder makes Hong Kong 'haunted apartments' a hard sell

There's a grim phenomenon in the real estate market in Hong Kong: discounts of as much as 50 per cent for home-seekers willing to live in an apartment where a murder has occurred.

Unnatural deaths typically result in rental discounts of 10 per cent to 20 per cent and can be more than double that for sinister killings, according to Sammy Po, head of the residential department of realtor Midland Holdings. Chinese believe such places, known as "hung jaak," the Cantonese term for "haunted apartments," are unlucky, he said.

"The Chinese really do care" about living in these places, Po said.

The rent for a Wan Chai district apartment where police found two women's bodies on November 1, HK$29,000 (NZ$4,750) a month at the time of the murders, will probably drop by half when it's released from being a crime scene, cleaned and rented again, according to a director of the company that owns the unit, who didn't want his name or firm identified because he isn't permitted to speak publicly. The sales value of the unit in the luxury J Residence would decline from HK$9 million to HK$6m if it were sold immediately, the person said.

Hong Kong had almost 190 sites where an unnatural death took place, including murders and suicides, this year, according to a database compiled by Squarefoot.com.hk.

Squarefoot lists the date of the incident, the address, the district and a brief description of the death. Among recent listings were an apartment where an 18-year-old male student slipped a plastic bag over his head last month and jumped to his death; one where a middle-aged couple, plagued by financial troubles, committed suicide by inhaling burning coal smoke; and another where a mother was hacked to death by a mentally unstable neighbor while protecting her two daughters.

Hong Kong is certainly not the only place where home- seekers can be wary of a residence marred by tragedy. Nevertheless, in a comparably high-demand market like New York City, the stigma is less marked, according to Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. in Manhattan. Where sales inventory in the city is scarce and rents are near records, a crime or other negative event wouldn't have much effect on price, he said.

In Britain, a particularly notorious crime can cause a home to become unsaleable, requiring it to be knocked down and rebuilt, said Richard Sexton, a director at e.surv, the country's largest provider of residential property valuations.

"Equally, if it's a folklore situation, the U.K. can be different," he said. "The house with the friendly ghosts can sometimes be marketed that way as a positive."

Hong Kong property agents aren't required by law to disclose if a death occurred in a unit, but they should provide information when asked under the industry's code of ethics, according to the Estate Agents Authority, a government agency. Potential tenants or buyers should ask whether a suicide or homicide took place because there's no legal definition of a "haunted property," the agency said in an e-mailed response.

Hong Kong is otherwise Asia's priciest real estate market. Private residential rents hit a record high in August, reaching almost HK$25 a square foot, or HK$12,500 for a 500-square-foot apartment, according to Midland. Residential sales prices, which have more than doubled since the start of 2009, hit a record last month despite government measures to curb demand.

The city is the world's most expensive after London for multinational companies to base staff because of its real estate, according to property brokerage Savills Plc.

C S Group, a Hong Kong property-services firm, is auctioning a 550-square-foot "hung jaak" on Nov. 18 with a starting price of HK$3.18m, according to its website. An apartment of the same size in the same complex sold last month for almost 27 per cent more, or HK$4.33m, according to data from Midland.

"The demand is there, whether from investors seeking rent or for self use," said Alger Cheng, general manager of the group's auction department.

First-time homebuyers are also drawn to these cheaper properties, Midland's Po said.

Superstition and geomancy beliefs run deep. Hong Kong people also shun sites close to cemeteries, hospitals and churches, which can be considered unlucky. Buildings typically omit the fourth floor because the number is a homonym for the Chinese word for death. Property developers rely on feng shui, which translates as "wind and water," the Chinese practice of arranging the physical environment in harmony according to beliefs about energy and design.

"For those growing up in Hong Kong, feng shui is hammered into your mind, even if you don't believe or understand it," said Ng Wai-pok, a former lecturer of feng shui at the University of Hong Kong. "A large part of it is psychological, but there is also the metaphysical."

Expatriates tend to be less concerned with living in "haunted apartments," said Asif Ghafoor, founder of property- listing website Spacious.hk.

For them, "location is by far the most important thing," he said. - Stuff



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It Was a Dark and Creepy Night: Real-Life Encounters with the Strange, Mysterious, and Downright Terrifying

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