“……Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now they must get everything back and the real terror begins……”
Prologue: Friday the 13th — The Series
This was the opening dialog to one of my favorite television shows of the late 1980s; Friday the 13th – The Series. As big hair and leg-warmers were going out of style, television was embracing the occult at face value, and in gut-wrenching mannerisms compared to earlier concepts seen on the boob-tube. Though this show has nothing to do with the teen slasher films of the day, or the killer maniac named Jason Vorhees, also known as Friday the 13th, it instead dealt with the concept of cursed antiques that were sold to innocent buyers, and the pursuit of these daemonic artifacts before ending with disastrous consequences. Though for the most part the cursed objects were recovered, there were always a slew of victims that followed the hunt. It was entertaining Saturday night fodder, though subject to critical review by religious groups of the day, and praised by fans of the horror genre. But is there any truth to the idea of haunted antiques…Can such a thing take place?
Over the years I have had the chance to see such alleged objects of doom, and even collect a few items during my travels. Though I can happily say that I have not fallen victim to said ‘curses’ as a result of either tampering or possessing such objects, I admit there is something to them; understanding that without true belief in the subject matter, thus believing that the curse in question will indeed harm me in some way, they (the object in question) cannot and will not harm or influence me. This is a standard concept understood to those who embrace magick traditions, and who foster themselves to various charms and talismans for protection, through a concept devised by Sir James Frazer; known as Sympathetic or Contagious Magic(k). This British anthropologist, folklorist, and classical scholar contended that thus admitting to the belief in ‘magical’ powers of such objects, for instance, there will appear to be a secret reality to such things, whereby the believer will manifest the essence, in this case, of the curse in question, both physically and emotionally. Yet again we must ask the question: are inanimate things, simple or complex objects able to hold some sort of energy that we conceive as haunted or cursed?
Of the few, and most haunted of objects said to hold a curse to them vary in number, and are found across the globe. Indeed, many religious-based cultures, even in our mega-modern societies still embrace the concept as haunted artifacts and cursed antiques, proving that ancient beliefs still have longevity. The reasoning for such things also vary, as many theories propose everything from magick to less visceral concepts such as memory storage by means known as the Stone Tape Theory (See http://psiresearcher.wordpress.com/ 2012/03/19/the-stone-tape-theory-echoes-in-time/ for more information). Regardless the facts, the belief that certain objects are cursed and deadly are as popular today as they were centuries ago. The following brief listing shows the most popular and well known examples of haunted objects across the world, though you’re likely to find such an object in your own community if you look hard enough.
The Woman of Lemb
Though there are many different objects have been considered haunted or cursed throughout history, few are said to bring on death to its owners as the Women from Lemb statue. This strange little artifact has done so much damage that it is commonly referred to as the ‘Goddess of Death,’ and remains under glass in a private section of a Scottish museum. Discovered in 1878 in Eastern Europe, in the village of Lemb, Cyprus, it has been dated to about 3500 B.C. and is believed to represent a goddess of that time by noted historians, but its exact placement in the pantheon of gods and goddesses remains a mystery. The statue is carved from pure limestone, and appears to have been done in a manner similar to fertility idols of the ancients.
The first owner is believed to have been a Lord Elphont, though history does not explain the manner in which all seven members of the Elphont family met their demise; only that they all died within a six-year period after becoming the owners. The next suspected victim was a man named Ivor Manucci., whose entire family died within a four- year period when having this statue in their home. A Lord Thompson-Noel became the following owner, who also lost his family in a four-year period. After this time the statue seemed to lapse into obscurity, as it could not be found for several years, but mysteriously returned to a cellar cabinet from where it ‘disappeared’ beforehand.
Sir Alan Biverbrook was next to purchase the statue. Shortly after this his wife and two daughters succumbed to a strange illness, then followed by Sir Alan Biverbrook dying a short time later. Sir Biverbrook had two remaining sons, who were formally warned of the circumstances that occurred with the ownership of the ‘Goddess of Death,’ and chose to follow the advice, and donated the seemingly damned statue to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. Though curators of a museum claimed not to put stock into the idea of curses or haunted objects, the chief curator of the museum where the statue was placed took ill and died within the year. There have been no other noted deaths since the statue was placed under glass, where no one can physically touch it.
So, what is it about this odd statue? Did it, as some believe, contain a poison or other form of disease-based fungus or virus on or within the limestone? This is certainly good reasoning, especially when we revisit the strange deaths of the excavation crews in Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century. When several workers and even Lord Carnarvon himself apparently succumbed to the ‘curse,’ news of an ancient evil spread across the land like wildfire, even though in truth, these men are believed to have died from a simple fungus that lived on the mummy wrappings of the boy king, Tutankhamen. When these men shaved each morning, thus opening the pores in their skin, they unknowingly infected themselves when they rubbed or scratched their faces. Maybe that’s why Indiana Jones always sported a scruffy beard when he worked…Who knows? One thing is for sure; even the most arcane and intrepid of curses might very well have logical and quite mundane causes behind them.
The Basano Vase
This fancy little vessel; made of carved silver during the latter half of the 15th century, is the object of Italian folklore that continues to frighten and inspire. Its history is foggy at best, but is believed to have been made as a wedding gift for a young woman in a northern village near Napoli. She is said to have either died or was murdered on her wedding night, clutching on the vase as she passed away. It was then passed around to family member to family member, causing death in one form or another until it was boxed and hidden away from sight. Some have claimed that it was hidden away by a priest; others say it simply disappeared, while others claim it was buried at an unknown time, only to be re-discovered in 1988. Legend tells us that when the vase was found, a piece of parchment paper with the message: “Beware…This vase brings death” was discovered inside of it. The creepy warning was discarded, and the vase was quickly auctioned off for 4 million Lira (about 2,250 U.S. dollars) to a local pharmacist. Three months later, he was dead. His family quickly sold it to a prominent surgeon who didn’t believe in such things as curses, and died two months later at the ripe old age of 37.
After a short period of time it sold again, this time to an archeologist who saw the vase as a true artifact of the high Renaissance, and promptly added to his private collection. Three months later he died of an unknown infection. His family decided to sell the fancy vase, but by this time the damned thing seemed to have a reputation to it, as it was considered bad luck. They were not able to get the five million Lira the unfortunate archeologist doled out, but they sold it. Once again, the new owner died in the space of only one month after purchasing it. By this time, the Basano Vase was believed to be cursed by the townsfolk, especially the remaining families, and was tossed out of a window in haste. And, with one last unearthly insult, the vase is said to have nearly hit a policeman in the head as it was flung out the window, who quickly offered the litter bug a fine for disorderly behavior. The owners of the haunted vase accepted the ticket, but not the vase, and turned it down flat, wishing to be arrested rather than take the thing back again. Though the police decided to offer it to several museums, none wanted it, as they were aware of the curse. To date, several Italian newspapers have claimed that the local police had once again buried the vase in an undisclosed location, though some sources say that it was placed in a small lead coffin and buried on the grounds of an ancient cemetery where no one will dig it up — We’ll see.
The Florentine Diamond and other Cursed Gems
“That damn stone [The Florentine] will take us into disaster…”
Mary Antoinette, shortly before her execution
Once again, we must revisit the concept of crystalline formations as a carry-all property; both in the form of systematic, non-vibration energy, which inhabit the realms of pure science and by means yet unknown to us, thus inhabiting the vistas of the metaphysic. Though it’s no revelation that crystals retain, and can transmit various aspects of such energy, as well as other forms of information, as currently used by computer manufacturing companies, and government agencies such as NASA, we can at least understand that the multi-faceted properties of crystals can retain and transmit information with perfection. Beyond this, we might consider the paranormal concept of various crystalline formations holding and transmitting other form of unseen energies, such as will, intention, moods and the psychic. Though sounding purely from the superstitious, consider the near perfectly formed, precious stones the Hope Diamond, the Delphi Purple Sapphire and the Florentine Diamond as examples.
The Hope Diamond
The infamous Hope Diamond is likely the most noted example of crystal-like curses. The large, blue diamond when it was stolen from a sacred idol in India, for which holding a curse of misfortune and death to anyone other than the prescribed guardians, who touched it, let alone anyone who would steal it. Its perfect quality, size and its rare color make it unique and sought-after, though it is also known for its sad and deadly history. Once owned by King Louis XIV, and later stolen during the French Revolution, it is remembered for causing tragedy for its owners throughout its freedom among the rich and powerful. Finally donated to the Smithsonian Institution, its days of causing misfortune are almost gone, besides retaining powerful feelings of avarice and fear to those who behold it, its days of killing appear to be over. And, though the Hope diamond is truly unique, the Florentine Diamond is just as mysterious, and also holds a heavy history of doom and gloom.
Delhi Purple Sapphire
Likewise, the Delhi Purple Sapphire has had an equally wicked history. According to Edward Heron-Allen, a scientist and personal friend of Oscar Wilde: “This jewel is accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it,” or so said the last owner of the beautiful gem. Though many people consider this rare gem a purple sapphire, it’s actually a large amethyst. Edward Heron-Allen offered the gem to the London Natural History Museum in 1943 claiming that it was indeed cursed, causing grief and loss to his family and himself. History dictates that the Delhi Purple Sapphire was brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris, a cavalryman stationed in India. He discovered the amethyst in India after it had been taken from a temple in 1857 during the Indian Mutiny. Both colonial Ferris and his son suffered losses of wealth and wellbeing after owning the jewel, as well as there being a few suicides for those who possessed it. When Edward Heron-Allen took charge of the gem in 1890, his problems began soon thereafter. Indeed, he lost the majority of his fortune, and family, and in a fit of rage, attempted to discard the gem into the Regent’s Canal, only to have it brought back to him by a jeweler who bought it from a canal worker. Edward knew something evil inhabited the accursed stone, so in 1904, he decided to use his own magic, and incased the gem in a box filled with protective talismans and other magical sigils, and then entombed that box within seven other boxes, and then buried away in his cellar, hidden from prying eyes. When Edward died, the box was uncovered, and then donated to the museum — The curse was over, right?
The Florentine Diamond
The Florentine Diamond is a massive 139 karat, amber-colored diamond that is also associated with a long line of infamous deaths. Of the most famous deaths, or at least a listing of the most famous misfortunes are seen in the dramas of Queen Elizabeth I of England, King Faruk of Egypt and Maximillian of Austria, notably that of King Louis XIV and Mary Antoinette, the jewel’s ill intent can also be seen as the cause of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophia’s assassination on 28 Jun 1918 in Sarajevo, thus igniting World War I. Though only coincidence for many, the fact that Sophia was wearing the stone at the time only fuels inquiry of a paranormal kind. So what are we to think regarding apparently cursed effects of these stones? There are of course many other examples, but when we look at the particular histories of these stones, can we honestly discard at least the possibilities? With all we understand about memory storage and the detainment of various energies, which can be found in certain stones and crystalline elements, can we not at least consider the idea that intent; moods, such as elation, sadness, rage and associated human emotions may also find their way to these foundations as mediums to replay themselves over and over again, in a place event situation? And what if this same concept is applied to other mediums, such as in certain paints or varnishes that may also hold minerals and crystalline materials, such as found in antique paintings and portraits — Can they also hold such human emanations?
The Crying Boy
The famous ‘Crying Boy’ paintings, notably those by the Spanish artist Giovanni Bragolin, also hold on to legends as curses and hauntings. As far back as the 1950s these mournful images of crying children have had many legends attached to them, even so far as to actually weep, apparently causing tears to drip from the canvas. In addition to these rumors, these paintings have been blamed for various misfortunes to the owners, including house fires and unexpected deaths. In the 1980s, the British tabloid The Sun published a story about a Yorkshire Fire Brigade officer who unearthed one such painting from a burnt-out dwelling, completely undamaged while the rest of the home was in ruins. Since and before that, other copies had been reported found in the ruins of burned houses throughout the world. Indeed, there are many other examples of so-called cursed paintings; from Elvis paintings, to old hags, the idea of there being a curse attached to them appears to be based on witness accounts of strange events, and through a lexicon of misfortunate happenings. Whether or not such issues are attributed to a ‘magick’ curse, or by the aforementioned memory retaining affects of crystalline materials have yet to be discovered and empirically proven.
Place memories, or residual hauntings seem to be akin to current ideas regarding curses of objects, as they can occur when something traumatic or stressful occurs, such as a murder or a rape is somehow attached to the object in question. It may be possible when certain energies are literally blasted into the atmosphere, causing that aspect of atmosphere to imprint or record those events to an object, such as a complex mineral. Like a video tape, it will play the events over and over again in succession, making the events appear as a curse. The residual haunting-like activity is not necessarily an intelligent haunting or a curse, as there is no interaction between you and any said entity, simply the action of those powerful emotions, such as rage and anger, happiness and sadness. In effect, the curse was placed on the object, for instance, as an adjunct to the creator or owner’s feelings about that object. The proprietors or guardians of those ancient Indian temples, for example, put great purpose and significance to the gems and the idols they were protecting. Such was and remains important to them, so naturally, they imprinted their most veracious emotions upon them each and every day, thus empowering the contents of these temples in a way that to date simply cannot readily be explained. Either through some force related to the intense faiths of humans, thus creating an elevated power that appears to be supernatural, may in fact be quite natural in every way, merely needing definition in order to lay these and similar mysteries to rest. Until that day, these objects will remain in the realms of cursed objects.
My collection thus far consists of several items with various histories. Some appear more evil than the others, but each has a particular reputation that is less than pure. Although there are many belief systems regarding these cursed antiquities, I have not experienced any ill effect or negative response, nor collapse in the financial arena, health or otherwise. Perhaps this is because I have a clear constitution of my belief systems, and not rushing headfirst into the monstrous folklore that may be attached to these items. Perhaps it is because I look at these objects from a position of respect to that of fear, somehow negating the so-called mystical powers that have created a powerful legend over the many years. The answer is yet forthcoming, but until that day, I shall regard each objet d’ art as an artifact, and as a live bomb, of sorts. Each is taken in as a piece of historical significance, and that of a diseased segment of flesh, where like a proper medical technician, handle such with a kind of universal precaution, just in case. As some of these items have shaken a few of my colleagues over the years, and literally scared the pants off of those who believe in magick as a tangible and powerful reality, I hold them dear. I hope you will too….
These unique, if not grisly pieces of Chicago’s history were for sale by George Patey of Vancouver, British Columbia. He is selling the remaining 135 (or so) bricks from the building that was the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. I am new to Chicago, but every Chicagoan is familiar with the lore: On Feb. 14, 1929, seven of bootlegger George “Bugs” Moran’s men were gunned down inside a North Side garage, reportedly by mob-connected killers. The crime was never officially solved, but all signs pointed to Chicago crime boss Al Capone, whose alibi was that he was at his Florida estate at the time. I bought these shortly before the building was completely removed. This is sad, as there is so much history to the affair and the legend. I bought these because they have a ‘haunted’ history to them, as many believe they are cursed, and that bad luck will follow anyone who owns them. I picked these 3 up at only $50 a piece, with authentication. They are far more expensive today, but Mr. Patey might make a deal with you.
These items are not for sale.
George Patey Website: http://www.myalcaponemuseum.com/id157.htm
This bizarre little objet d’ art is known as a ‘Poppet’ (This is my Rod Serling Night Gallery Intro) and were made by witches and other soothsayers of long ago to act as a fetish of a person. It was mostly used for malaise, but on occasion, some were used for healing. I bought this at an estate sale in New Hampshire, as is dated approximately from c. 1850 – 1900. The inside is made of herbs, defiantly lace, ivy and rose petals, as well as unprocessed cotton. We think it was used primarily as a love fetish for a loved one. Green signifies health issues, and the white buttons may mean to clear something. The linen cloth is cheaply made, and has been estimated as coming from either a laundry bag or a linen protector, so this would signify that the maker was poor, possibly a servant. It’s a neat little curio.
Israeli Oil Lamp Heirlooms
Here are a few items from Israel. These small Terracotta clay oil lamps with raised dots and linear designs, with minute traces of carbon residue around wick hole, are dated around 100 AD. They are about 3 1/2″ respectfully. Note dried blood on upper regions, denoting possible magic use.
My source: http://www.worldwidestore.com/
Scarabs — Mummy Icons
This is an example of an ancient Egyptian green limestone scarab with hieroglyphics to the top and bottom. Dated at: 663 – 525 BC. (26th Dynasty), it has a hole for wearing around the neck. Size is: ¾” x ½” I have about 40 of these little gems; some are as large as an orange, others small to fit within mummy wrappings for the afterlife.
My contact source: http://www.worldwidestore.com/40504c.htm
Book of Shadows
This is one of my favorite collections. I found this in an antique shop in Maine, while enrolled at Norwich University (VT). It is a genuine ‘Book of Shadows’ used by practitioners of the occult and witchcraft. It is surrounded by deer skin and symbols that have been burned in via gun powder; according to Dr. Barbara DuBois and Dr. David Carrington of Norwich University c.1996. The flesh was sown with common catgut during the 19th century (c. 1800-15). Dates and various occult symbols have been etched inside with ‘bird’s blood.’ The woman who owned it was named “Bethany.” I bought this artifact along with a 19th century sword (saber) and blanket truck at a cost of $200. The book itself is worth over $10,000 due to content and savvy to collectors. It remains in Vermont in a private museum. (Not for sale)
Here’s a genuine Crusader ring dated about: 1270 A.D., which would have been the 8th Crusade, led by Louis IX. This is worth about £955.00, or less. There are several sources, but the one below is the best, just make sure you have a certificate of authenticity from the seller, with a raised seal. If buying in the UK as I did, you will have a better chance of getting the real thing, as they offer appraisal certificates with their merchandise.
Haunted Bali and Indonesian Masks
These masks I had the fortune of purchasing in Indonesia and the Islands of Bali and Sumatra way back in 1999, 2002 and 2006. Because my wife is Indonesian, I have an inside source. Most of these masks are ‘dance’ masks, and were designed for that purpose, though many of them are also used for various ceremonies and similar practices. These can be obtained via the following website. My masks inhabit the timeline: 1880s – 1920s respectably, and have a ‘haunted’ history. Many of the islanders have claimed that many of these masks that are made by locals, and now large manufacturing companies so prevalent today, where oftentimes painted with inks mixed with human or animal blood. Interested, I decided to consult a friend of mine in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a retired homicide detective about running a simple blood test. This test, known as a Blood Reagent Test or a presumptive test, will detect any trace of hemoglobin, which will then show if it’s human or animal. Sure enough, the test proved positive, indicating the use of human blood in the artwork.
Is it haunted as many of the natives believe it to be?
The Hand of Glory
Female, circa 1610, Middle East. Priced/Valued @ ($8.000 USD). This artifact is sealed in a clear sealant for protection, and resides in my personal library of artifacts. The hand of glory has an illustrious and equally horrible reputation throughout history. Usually made from the right hand of a hanged criminal, for the purpose of protection, and for thieves to use as a magical device for becoming ‘invisible’ from being caught while robbing homes, such was also valuable to those in certain magick traditions, who would burn a candle in its fingers for various purposes. In either the method, the hand was considered a most powerful tool. Because this was made from the hand of a woman, it is likely that she was also a criminal of a sense, perhaps guilty of her husband’s reasons. This is believed because the hand was indeed used in the ‘glory’ significance due to the fact that wax was found, and that it was originally included with a mahogany box, and covered in black cloth. It is believed that the woman in question was considered an adulterous person or at least guilty of angering her husband, resulting in her death.
According to Dr. Hans Reinhardt, former medical examiner and employer, the woman was around 30 years of age, and suffered of bone aliments, possibly as result of a venereal disease. (Not for sale)
The head in the jar. Estimated to have been a sacrifice, the head was found with about 30 others in the jungles between Brazil and Peru, and are believed to have been done by unidentified natives living there. Traces of stone chips were found in the skin around the neck, suggesting that the victims were killed with antiquated tools. These examples are sealed in medical grade paraffin and capped at the spinal opening. The brain is intact, making it valuable to some collectors; as such heads are considered “Thinking Skulls” and can be used in magick ceremonies.
Another ‘simple’ skull from my collection. This is around 70 years old from a British Medical School. It is unique because it has dried and encapsulated flesh still on the mantel. This was a common practice for some in the medical field, as they needed a way of understanding the rate and appearance of a ‘decaying’ human body. This was done more for law enforcement than for medicine. This is a male skull of the age of 40-50. He had advanced arterial thrombosis as evident from the inner tissue/circ. system and likely died from a massive stroke. (These items have been sold)
In the end, one might view these items; both the grisly and the mundane as things that should be shunned or at least, buried. Perhaps this is true, but for the sake of scholarly inquiry, we should consider the possibilities of each item having more to them than mere creepiness, for the lack of a better word. In truth, each of these artifacts are museum quality, and may indeed hold in them the vary power that was originally placed upon them. The book of shadows is a rare item in my collection, though now residing in a safe place today, it signifies the hidden life of a woman that likely had no rights, and was no doubt considered a heretic by her contemporaries. Did she etch her feelings of regret or anger in those fleshy bindings, or within the animal’s skin itself? If we are to believe that certain emotions can somehow be chiseled into such materials as the grains of wood, or in the complex network of crystal, than we might consider that such is true here, and from the perspective of one’s mind, indeed haunted…Or cursed.
Other mundane artifacts such as the crusader ring, the terracotta oil lamps and the masks may be able to hold such energies too, though less in potency as the infamous Florentine Diamond, or the dreaded Basano Vase. And what of the human skulls and the hand of glory? Are these too able to house the feelings and emotions of those people who gave of themselves for the sake of hate or sacrifice? You might be surprised to the individual answers you’ll receive. In any case, these questions will no doubt remain in the ether realms of the supernatural and the haunted until we find a plausible answer that can be measured, cataloged and logically dissected by learned men and women. Until then, however, you might do well to consider that you too might have your own cursed antiques; hidden between the books on your shelves, or mingling with your grandmother’s antique glassware. Who knows…you may very well have a curse just waiting to escape in your own home, just waiting to be found.
Now might be a good time to take that long overdue inventory, or clean out that old, dusty attic space. Who knows what’s waiting to be set free.
Sir James Frazer http://www.nndb.com/people/600/000099303/
Egypt and King Tut http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/archaeology/howard_carter.html
Curses of the Gods http://www.angelfire.com/empire/serpentis666/curses.html