Transylvanian Vampires

Transylvanian Vampires

Transylvania’s vampire lore inspired the setting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, if not the character of the Count, and encompasses not only undead monsters, but living beings akin to witches.  (The show is introduced with an audio snippet from Maria Tănase, premiere interpreter of Romanian folk song.) Mrs. Karswell begins the show, reading a passage Stoker wrote …

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Horror Hosts, Part Two

Horror Hosts, Part Two

A break from the usual themes for the Halloween season: the second part of our survey of 40 years of  Horror hosts, this time the hosts of the 1960s and a couple years of the ’70s. Included in this installment: Morgus the Magnificent, Sammy Terry, Chilly Billy Cardille, Ghoulardi, The Vegas Vampire, The Cool Ghoul, …

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Horror Hosts, Part One

Horror Hosts, Part One

Something a little different for the Halloween season: horror hosts and their evolution in the early years.  We’ll be doing a second episode (out before Halloween) rounding out our survey to include the horror hosts of the 1960s. Included in this installment: Vampira, John Zacherle, Gorgon, Marvin the Nearsighted Madman, Tarantula Ghoul, The Old Witch, …

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Ghost Trains & Railway Terrors

Ghost Trains & Railway Terrors

Ghost trains and real-life railway terrors intermingle in this episode’s exploration of old train-wreck ballads, nervous and funereally obsessed Victorians, urban legends involving train deaths, and more. Mrs. Karswell begins our show reading an imaginitive description of a phantom train written by George A. Sala for an 1855 edition of the magazine, Household Words, published by Charles Dickens …

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Marvelous and Rare III

Marvelous and Rare III

Duties in the library unfortunately prevent us from presenting a regular episode at this time, but to fill the gap, we’re offering listeners a taste of the short bonus “Marvelous & Rare” episodes all our $4-and-up Patreon subscribers hear every month (sort of antiquarian version of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not). If you’d like to …

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Bird-Women of Greece and Russia

Bird-Women of Greece and Russia

Bird-women hybrids of Greek legend and Russian folklore are uniquely ambivalent, sometimes bringing death and destruction and at others, prophetic wisdom and the joy of Paradise. The two Greek species we treat are sirens and harpies, both at times described as having the bodies of birds and faces or upper bodies of human females. Beginning with …

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The Dybbuk

The Dybbuk

A dybbuk is a “clinging spirit” of Jewish folklore, a ghost that can possess a human host. Stories of dybbuks (pl. dibbukim in Hebrew for sticklers) date to the 16th century but have never traditionally included the idea of trapping a dybbuk in a box, a trope that only dates to a 20o3 eBay ad placed …

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Ashtar, Orthon, and the Rosicrucians

Ashtar, Orthon, and the Rosicrucians

Messages delivered by the extraterrestrials Ashtar and Orthon to Contactees of the 1950s represented a sort of repackaging of 19th-century Theosophy, a philosophical descendent of the Rosicrucianism of the 1700s. After our previous epiosde examining George King of the Aetherius Society, this episode looks at two other Georges of the Contactee movement, George van Tassel (channeler of Ashtar) …

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Friends from Venus, Theosophists in Space

Friends from Venus, Theosophists in Space

The esoteric teachings of Theosophy, particularly those regarding Venus, were surprisingly influential on the tales told by flying saucer Contactees of the 1950s and ’60s. We begin with a quick review of Theosophy and its principles as defined by the Russian international adventurer Helena Blavatsky in the later decades of the 19th century. Blavatsky had worked as …

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Hex Murders and Madness in Old Pennsylvania

Hex Murders and Madness in Old Pennsylvania

Cases of madness and even murder were associated with Hexerei, a form of witchcraft brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants.  Following up on our previous examination of the tradition of Braucherei or Pow-Wow as practiced in 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania, our current episode eplores some more disturbing cases of witchcraft beliefs surviving into the …

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