The Dark Art of Ventriloquism

The Dark Art of Ventriloquism

While the dummies may be inherently creepy, they were not the source of  ventriloquism’s dark reputation in earlier times. This originates with the understanding that the voice heard, when no mouth seems to speak, belongs to a demon. We begin with a bit of audio mixing bits from various frightful ventriloquist films, including Devil Doll …

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The Mesmerist

The Mesmerist

Our understanding of hypnotism, once known as “mesmerism,”  has radically evolved over the centuries. This episode looks at where it all began, examining the  fascinating (and rather weird) story of the 18th-century German doctor, Franz Anton Mesmer, after whom “mesmerism” is named. We begin, with a look at the mesmerist’s sinister reputation in the 19th century, …

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Banshees (Rebroadcast)

Banshees (Rebroadcast)

Banshees are spirits of Irish folklore, who warn of impending deaths.  Originally considered fairies, their Irish name, bean sídhe, means “woman of the mounds,” those mounds (sídhe) being the ancient burial mounds believed in Ireland to be the home of fairies. The banshee’s wailing, which betokens imminent death of a blood relative, is probably based upon the wailing of …

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Glass-Coffin Girls

Glass-Coffin Girls

The story of Snow White, as told by the Brothers Grimm, is only one of many narratives involving girls who have fallen into a deathlike state and are displayed in a glass coffins. In this episode, we examine the sordid details of the Grimm’s original 1812 version of the tale and compare it with analogous …

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Audio Fix on Episode 125

Audio Fix on Episode 125

A few listeners commented that Mrs. Karswell’s dialogue was muffled at points in “Sorcery Schools of Spain.”  That  episode is now updated with a corrected version. Thanks for letting us know.

Sorcery Schools of Spain

Sorcery Schools of Spain

For centuries, Spain was said to be the home of secret, underground sorcery schools, Toledo being the first city with this reputation and later Salamanca.  The notoriety of the latter was more enduring, and when the legend passed to Spanish colonies of the New World, the word, “Salamanca” was embraced as a generic term for …

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A Christmas Ghost Story VI

A Christmas Ghost Story VI

Tonight we bring you our sixth annual Christmas ghost story, a tradition particularly beloved in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. First published in 1908, and set in the days before Christmas, the tale is by British writer Algernon Blackwood (from whom we earlier heard “Ancient Lights“) and whom many listeners will know through his other works, particularly, …

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Christmas Superstitions

Christmas Superstitions

The Christmas season is rich in superstitions. The whole period from the beginning of Advent, through the day itself, and especially throughout the twelve days (and nights!) between Christmas and January 6 or Epiphany are, in a sense haunted, a time when spirits are afoot and behavior is hemmed in by restrictions upon normal activities. Recently …

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The Monster of Glamis

The Monster of Glamis

The Monster of Glamis was a Victorian legend involving a Scottish castle, a secret chamber, and a monstrous aristocrat hidden from the world–a perfect story for Bone and Sickle’s return to its old format, a 45-minute deep-dive into the castle’s lore, including its association with Macbeth, a legend of a cursed Earl’s card game with …

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An Old-Fashioned Halloween Party

An Old-Fashioned Halloween Party

Tonight we recreate for you elements of an old-fashioned Halloween party as experienced in the 1920s or ’30s. Foods, games, spooky stories and poems in an extra-long Halloween episode. For more retro delights of the era, listen to Episode 35 “Vintage Halloween.”