The Ten Spookiest Churches in the World

Are you brave enough to read this? Are you easily ‘spooked’ out? Would you dare to visit one of these spine-chilling churches late at night? Because… when the congregation’s away, the ghosts come out to play…

  1. Newby Church, North Yorkshire, UK

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A hologram of the Emperor from Star Wars? No, it’s the ghost of a medieval monk! Conclusive evidence that some spirits are not camera shy. Taken in 1963 by the Reverend Lord, this spectral snap-shot continues to perplex experts the world over. Psychics have speculated that it may be the ghost of a 16th century friar who treated plague victims.

  1. Westminster Abbey, London, UK

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Westminster Abbey may be an iconic British landmark, but with over 3000 burials registered on the site, it boasts an impressive array of terrifying tenants! Notable inhabitants include: a Benedictine monk who mysteriously materialises in the early evening, and a sombre soldierly spirit (said to be the ghost of the ‘Unknown Warrior’ who is entombed inside the abbey itself).

  1. Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

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The perfect setting for Stephen King’s next blood-curdling blockbuster, Christ Church, Virginia, is sensationally spooky! Sinister sightings of spectral civil-war soldiers in the graveyard are commonplace and ensure that this national monument is a popular haunt for avid ghost hunters. Thirty four Confederate troops were interred in a mass grave, and some tourists even claim to have captured their armed apparitions on celluloid.

7. Borley Church, Essex, UK

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Borley became world famous thanks to ghost hunter extraordinaire Harry Price. Mysterious tapping sounds and unexplained footsteps around the building have been reported by witnesses. But perhaps the most disturbing phenomenon of all has taken place in the crypt. Investigators have been unable to explain how coffins have been bizarrely moved from their original positions despite the door being locked!

6. Most Holy Trinity Church, New York, USA

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Anyone who has seen ‘Poltergiest’ will know the occupational hazard that comes with disrespecting the deceased. The spirits of those interred in an old burial ground beneath the school of Most Holy Trinity Church are said to linger after dark. Spine-tingling tones of eerily ethereal voices coupled with disturbingly disembodied footsteps resonate. Lights in the gym hall mysteriously switch on and off, as if the dead protest a denial of dignity.

  1. Frauenkirche, Munich, Germany

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The black sinister footprint at the doorway of the Frauenkirche in Munich is said to have been made by the Devil himself! Legend has it that he offered to pay for the building of the church provided it had no windows. The builder accepted his satanic salary and slyly positioned the columns so that the church windows cannot be seen from the Devil’s position! When the wind howls eerily around the Gothic towers it is believed to be Lucifer expressing his anger.

  1. Church of St Wystan, Repton, UK

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From the ghoulish goblin who lives atop the spire, to the peculiar misty spirits who dwell in the graveyard, St Wystan’s Church is a hive of weirdness. Locals speak of strange supernatural figures appearing during the witching hour around the church. The spirit of a seventeenth century grave-digger is also said to linger among the tombstones.

  1. Basilique du Bois-Chenu, Domremy La-Pucelle, France

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Dedicated to Joan of Arc who was burnt alive at the stake after being accused of witchcraft by the English, the Basilique du Bois-Chenu is a well known spooky hotspot. Joan was said to have experienced divine visions as a young girl living in the village. Her ghost has been sighted on numerous occasions around the church, returning to visit her childhood home.

2. Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France

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Divine intervention played a role in the building of the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel when the Arch Angel Gabriel appeared before the Bishop Aubert of Avranches and instructed him to build a holy structure. Mysterious monks and the ghost of Captain Louis d’Estouteville (who defeated the English in 1434) now haunt this unique location. The ghost of the soldier is often sighted guarding the ramparts, loyally performing his duty to the King of France.

1. Lucedio Abbey, Trino, Italy

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Terrifying tales of torture, murder and dark rituals prompted the Pope to close Lucedio Abbey in the eighteenth century. Its horrifying history is equally as disturbing as the weird inexplicable fog which appears around the building, and the sinister evil ‘presence’ which can be experienced in the crypt. Several monks were found buried in a perfect circle and were all seated! Even more bizarrely, their bodies were naturally preserved. Italy’s most haunted place… were the abbots practising some sort of sinister sorcery?

The author of this article is David Fox who is a freelance writer and entertainer based in the UK. Visit David’s website for more details: David Fox Magician.

Tutbury Castle: Britain’s Most Haunted

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Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire has developed a reputation as one of the finest wedding and events venues in the Midlands. Every year this majestic medieval monument attracts visitors from around the world who marvel at its exquisite charm and rich heritage.

A fortification has existed on this hilltop since the eleventh century, and the castle boasts a long and illustrious history. Its most notable past resident is Mary Queen of Scots who was incarcerated in Tutbury during the late 16th century after abdicating the throne of Scotland and being forced into exile. Indeed, there is much to amaze historians in and around the ruins, and lively re-enactments of historical events are commonplace in the spacious castle grounds on summer days. However, perhaps it is matters of a more mysterious nature which have generated most intrigue in recent years…

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Mary Queen of Scots was held at Tutbury Castle

No fewer than five ghosts are said to haunt Tutbury Castle. The apparition of a soldier wearing armour has been sighted on numerous occasions, along with a spectral white lady and the phantoms of a young boy and girl respectively. In 2004 a large group of visitors saw the spectre of Mary Queen of Scots herself peering down from the South Tower. Furthermore, her celebrity spirit has been witnessed frequently at other locations and is always said to be immaculately attired. Thus, Tutbury can rightfully claim to be one of the British Isles’ most haunted venues, and it is now a site of very special interest for ghost hunters.

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Orbs and a ghostly figure captured at Tutbury Castle

Recently the events team at Tutbury announced they will be resuming ghost hunts at the castle. This will provide an excellent opportunity for paranormal investigators to explore this extraordinary location and seek out evidence of the afterlife.

Professional psychical investigators deploy a rigorous regime when investigating such a venue. State-of-the-art technology is utilised to record potential supernatural phenomena, and a strict scientific methodology is observed. Indeed, such ghost hunters believe that evidence can be captured on film, but this theory is certainly controversial and challenged by sceptics. Nonetheless, there are ample video clips and photographs of weird occurrences at the venue.

Whilst shooting a wedding reception at Tutbury Castle, professional photographer David Green was amazed to find this mysterious image appear in a nocturnal photograph of the newlyweds. David was unaware of the queer ‘fog’ whilst photographing the couple and, to date, there is no logical explanation for this peculiar phenomenon…

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Professional photographer David Green captured some peculiar white mist during a wedding reception.

 

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A closer inspection of the fog… What do you think?

For more details about Tutbury Castle and the tremendous facilities it has to offer, visit the website at: Tutbury Castle

David Green is one of the UK’s top photographers and boasts an exceptional portfolio. Contact David now for your next photo-shoot: David Green Corporate Photography

The author of the article is David Fox. A professional magician and freelance writer who is based in the East Midlands: David Fox Magic

An article posted on 12th January 2017 in the Burton Mail regarding the resumption of ghost hunting at Tutbury Castle: Ghost Hunts Make Spooky Return

The Society of Psychical Research offers guidance for those interested in exploring hauntings and haunted venues: Society of Psychical Research

 

Poltergeist Hauntings – Mischievous Spirits or Misplaced Energy?

”…in the nineteenth century, investigators of poltergeist phenomena observed that children are usually present, and one of them often seems to be the ‘focus’ of the disturbance…”

Colin Wilson

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Poltergeists are infamous in all cultures

In early August 2016 police were summoned to a property on Stonelaw Road, Rutherglen, Scotland. A series of bizarre disturbances had been reported, and the highly experienced officers were soon to be confronted with a profoundly perplexing situation. Doors opened and closed by their own accord, clothing was hurled through the air by unseen hands, and the pet dog mysteriously levitated on top of a seven foot hedge. Naturally the events caused extreme distress for both tenants and police officers alike. A more detailed account of this case can be found on The Metro website, 13th August 2016: Police Witness Paranormal Events.

Such phenomena are commonly grouped under the term of ‘Poltergeist’ activity (which comes from the German for ‘noisy ghost’). These mischievous spirits are said to be responsible for a myriad of weird occurrences such as: moving furniture, creating disturbing sounds, switching on and off electrical appliances, and even physically attacking people and animals. Acclaimed Occult author Colin Wilson identified these actions to be the ‘basic characteristics of the poltergeist’ and noted that they always form the same ‘pattern’. Indeed, perhaps what makes them so disturbing is that, unlike traditional ghosts, they do not assume any particular shape or form. Poltergeists can merely be described as ‘forces’ or mysterious ‘energies’ which happen to linger around particular people – normally young children or adolescents.

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Tobe Hooper’s cult classic raised awareness of poltergeist phenomenon

Tobe Hooper’s cult movie ‘Poltergeist’ (1982) propelled this troublesome type of spirit into the popular contemporary mainstream. The young daughter in the movie was very much the focus of the paranormal activity which occurred in and around the family home. However, just six years prior to the movie’s release, the story of the Enfield Poltergeist in the UK had caused an international sensation. Peggy Hodgson and her children were plagued by such activity at their home in the north eastern borough of London. Strange forces shifted heavy furniture, slammed doors and a police officer even observed an arm chair move unaided across the floor. Perhaps one of the most disturbing images of poltergeist phenomena is that of Janet Hodgson (Peggy’s daughter) being thrown violently through the air in her bedroom. The case was examined thoroughly be a variety of agencies and, although Peggy’s daughters admitted playing tricks at times, much of the phenomena cannot be conclusively explained.

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One of the most disturbing images of poltergeist activity – The Enfield Poltergeist

Since antiquity, the poltergeist has made an appearance in the folklore of virtually every culture throughout the world. Stone throwing was usually the first indication that such a spirit was present, and it could even occur during daylight hours. The curious tale of The Drummer of Tedworth in 1661 is one of the oldest documented accounts of this phenomenon in the British Isles. The musician had his instrument confiscated and held at a local house which caused a variety of chaotic incidents to take place. It was only when the drum was returned to its owner and he was promptly instructed to leave town that the disturbances ceased.

Indeed, there are countless eye-witness accounts and tales of poltergeist activity in the media every year. This raises the question of what actually causes such phenomena to occur – surely there must be a logical explanation behind all of this? We live in an age of unbridled technological advancement, and queer notions of malevolent spirits seem somewhat medieval and outdated to say the least. Perhaps poltergeist activity can be explained as an aspect of what Colin Wilson termed ‘Faculty X’? This is the term he gave to the largely latent range of exceptional faculties human beings may possess – but of which we are presently unaware. Could it be that poltergeist activity is actually ‘created’ in some way by excessive energy which has built up in and around the sphere of certain individuals?

Like many free-thinkers, Wilson believed that the overwhelming majority of human beings are unaware of the massive potential which exists within their psyches. The state of the contemporary adult could be easily compared to a toddler sitting at the controls of a jumbo jet. We have yet to fully appreciate just how powerful the human species can become and how limited our current state of consciousness actually is. If poltergeist activity really is created by individual persons, it could be grouped in with other phenomena such as telekinesis (the capability to move physical objects using the mind), premonitions (predicting future events in dreams and visions) and thaumaturgy (the ability to heal others at will).

David Fox is a professional free-lance writer and entertainer who lives in the UK. Visit his website to find out more about him: David Fox Magic.

Harry Houdini – Spiritualism or Swindle?

Magician David Fox explores…

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‘What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes’

Harry Houdini, 1874 – 1926

It was a dark and dreary mid-winter evening several years ago in Derbyshire. I had been invited to entertain guests at a corporate function in the distinguished setting of Breadsall Priory. The evening was going very well, and my repertoire of card magic, illusion, and sleight-of-hand was clearly having a positive impact on the proceedings. An opportunity soon presented itself for me to conduct some mind-reading and psychological routines (known as ‘Mentalism’ in magical parlance).

In one such effect I invite an audience member to think of someone they know well. It could be a family member, friend or work colleague. In this instance the lady in question happened to think of someone who had recently passed on. Needless to say, when I later revealed the person’s identity, the participant thought something supernatural had taken place.

As magicians we are well aware of the possibility of creating powerful effects which will leave a profound and lasting impression upon an audience. Indeed, magic and the supernatural have long been inextricably intertwined. The priests of ancient Egypt often used the art to mesmerise and frighten their subjects. In more recent times the case of the great French magician Robert Houdin (from whom Harry Houdini took his name) is well documented. Houdin managed to scare a group of tribal insurgents in Africa by using a simple magical effect in order to quell colonial insurrection. It is for this reason that the contemporary prestidigitator must be responsible and respectful when entertaining any audience.

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On hearing the word ‘magic’ we automatically think of Harry Houdini. This sensational individual needs little introduction and, almost a century since his death, he continues to amaze and inspire both magicians and lay persons the world over. Houdini helped to raise the profile of magic considerably throughout the early twentieth century with his wonderful stage performances and death defying stunts. His boundless charisma, formidable work ethic, and strength of personality, all combined to create one of the world’s first international superstars. However, most people are unaware of Houdini’s close association with spiritualism during the latter stages of his life.

On losing his beloved mother, Houdini began to ponder the possibility of an after life throughout the 1920s. Like many vulnerable souls who find themselves in such a time of emotional turmoil, he sought solace in mediums who had become more prevalent around the industrialised American towns since the ‘Occult Renaissance’ of the late nineteenth century.

Sadly, Houdini was bitterly disappointed by the séances he attended, and quickly developed the point-of-view that spiritualists, and those that claimed to be in league with the dearly departed, were merely charlatans. Thus, he set out on a moral crusade to disclose, or ‘debunk’, the fraudulent activities of such persons. Houdini’s revelations are masterfully presented in his 1924 work entitled ‘A Magician Among The Spirits’. The great magician demonstrates much of the chicanery utilised by purported spiritualists in order to extract hard-earned cash from the unwary.

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Spiritualism grew in popularity from the mid nineteenth century onwards.

But what of Spiritualism? Can we fully accept Houdini’s warnings, or is there really some kernel of truth in the possibility of communicating with the deceased? Adherents of the multitude of contemporary Spiritualist churches which exist throughout the world would refute his accusations. Indeed, one commentator has calculated that there are currently over thirteen million followers of this faith throughout Europe and North America alone. Perhaps like many belief systems Spiritualism has attracted its share of charlatans over the years, but are there mediums amongst its ranks who possess a genuine ability to contact the dead?

The eminent philosopher Carl Jung appreciated that human beings possess a subconscious desire to believe in some form of higher force, or divine purpose, to life. The prospect of living a meaningless existence with no prospect of an afterlife is, to say the least, frightful. Many magicians often scoff at those who readily accept the existence of spirits, but in my humble opinion this is a rather arrogant stand-point to assume. Granted, given a sympathetic enough context, we can create effects which may appear to defy reality.

A variety of elements combined that wintry evening all those years ago in Derbyshire such as the gloomy weather, dim lighting, and the fact that we were on the site of a medieval abbey which is rumoured to be haunted, to create an effect of almost supernatural proportions. However,  there are indeed many things which contemporary science in all its wisdom still cannot fully explain such as: premonitions, photographs and recordings of unusual phenomenon, and telepathy.

As for Houdini, he promised to send a coded message to friends and family after he shed this mortal coil. To date, we are still waiting to hear from the master…

David Fox is a professional award winning magician who performs his unique brand of magic throughout the world.

Visit David’s new Corporate website at: www.davidfoxcorporatemagic.com

Telephone number: 07946 686 258

Tarot Reading – The 78 Keys to Wisdom

Magician David Fox explores the origins and significance of the Tarot Deck…

‘it is a complete symbolic map of all the transformative processes in the universe’

Dr. David Shoemaker, Chancellor of the International College of Thelema

The Mystery of the 78

The origins of the Tarot deck are as mysterious as the cards themselves.

The origins of the Tarot deck are as mysterious as the cards themselves.

As a professional magician, I owe an incalculable debt to the 52 pieces of laminated cardboard popularly known as the humble deck of playing cards. However, I am fully aware that the origins of the four suits are far more mysterious and profound than even the most mystifying card trick in the conjurer’s repertoire. It is widely accepted that the contemporary deck originates from the Tarot cards: that peculiar collection of colourfully illustrated rectangular pictograms which are most commonly utilised for divinatory purposes.

The origins of the Tarot

The Tarot of the Witches. Popularised in the James Bond movie 'Live and Let Die'

The Tarot of the Witches. Popularised in the James Bond movie ‘Live and Let Die’

Some Occult historians claim that the Tarot originates from the times of the ancient Babylonians and the Egyptians. There may be a grain of truth in this somewhat Romantic theory, but the earliest recorded proof we have of such cards being used (primarily for parlour games) dates from late Medieval times. The wealthier inhabitants of Milan and present day northern Italy could afford to have such cards produced and ‘the game of trumps’ became a popular pass-time for the upper classes. Nonetheless, those with a deeper awareness of the arcane would always maintain that the cards were more than mere accoutrements for frivolous flights of aristocratic fancy. The rich symbolism evident within the Tarot clearly illustrated something much more profound, enduring and mystical. The ancient mystery schools had long since communicated Truth in such a manner: through the use of signs, symbols and codes which could only be discerned by those of the appropriate spiritual disposition and awareness.

Designs of Tarot

A Shakespearian Tarot Deck. There are many designs of Tarot.

A Shakespearian Tarot Deck. There are many designs of Tarot.

There is a multitudinous array of Tarot decks currently available for those who wish to explore the intriguing art of Cartomancy (the practice of using cards for divinatory or fortune-telling purposes). The enduring aesthetic appeal of the Tarot is a fitting testimony to the skill and talents of the artists who have sought to recreate, and offer their own unique interpretations of the Major and Minor Arcana, throughout the aeons. One of the most widely celebrated and used of decks is the Tarot de Marseille. This vibrant collection of pictograms dates from the late 16th century and is favoured by contemporary cartomancers the world over. However, it must be noted that the choice of deck is entirely a matter of personal preference. In Occult circles it is commonly accepted that for those who are so inclined to explore the world of the Tarot, the deck will choose them…

The Book of Thoth

The Thoth Tarot deck is one of the most beautiful ever created.

The Thoth Tarot deck is one of the most beautiful ever created.

Aleister Crowley has bequeathed to posterity an incredible text entitled ‘The Book of Thoth’. This is a profound and engaging treatise on both the origins and significance of the Tarot. The Thoth Tarot Deck (which accompanies the book) is truly an exceptional work of art, and was finalised, after several years of toil, by both Crowley and Lady Emma Harris, who carefully painted each card to Crowley’s precise specifications. Indeed, her instructor often insisted that a deisgn be painted several times in order to capture the True essence of the particular pictogram.

The Book of Thoth is an outstanding demonstration of Crowley’s awareness and profound understanding of the Occult arts. Well versed in the philosophies of Qabalah, Astrology, Alchemy, Geomancy, I-Ching and Numerology, Crowley appreciated that the symbolism contained within the Tarot is essentially a synthesis of the ancient spiritual traditions of the human race. He sought to demonstrate this through the unique design of each and every card. Fundamentally, he understood the following principles:

The four suits of the Tarot correspond to the four ancient elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water:

Coins are associated with Earth and mundane matters (money, material transactions)

Swords are associated with Air and thus the realm of the intellect (education, decisions)

Wands are associated with Fire: spiritual energy and vitality (masculine)

Cups represent Water and the realm of the emotions (feminine)

The Twenty Two Tarot trumps correspond with the paths on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, and the ten spot cards of each suit can be linked to the Sephiroth of the Qabalah in their corresponding element. Indeed, students with even a rudimentary awareness of the Western Mystery Tradition will glean much from working with this unique deck.

Methods of divination

Consultation of the Tarot permits us to view the 'bigger picture'.

Consultation of the Tarot permits us to view the ‘bigger picture’.

There are a variety of intriguing methods one can use in order to ‘divine’, or ask questions, with the Tarot. Some ‘spreads’ use several cards, whilst others may utilise the entire deck. I have personally found the well-known Celtic Cross method to be as effective as it is practical.

The following website by James Reeducks provides excellent instruction in conducting this spread, as well as an illuminating commentary on each particular card in the Thoth deck:

The Thoth Tarot Deck by James Reeducks

 It must be borne in mind that the Tarot provides one with a valuable opportunity to assess a situation, or problem, from a new, and often refreshing, stand-point. Consultation of the cards should not be regarded as a crutch to disregard responsibility and passively accept a particular outcome. The curious harmony of will and fate may be perennial, but human beings can take more control over their destinies if they have the courage and conviction to do so. Indeed, the Tarot affords us with a startling insight into the curious forces which incessantly influence the lives of men and women upon this planet for better or for worse…

Dennis Wheatley – The Devil Rides Out

The mysterious world of Dennis Wheatley…

David Fox explores

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‘Should any of my readers incline to a serious study of the subject (Occult) and thus come into contact with a man or woman of Power, I feel that is is only right to urge them, most strongly, to refrain from being drawn into any practice of the Secret Art in any way.’

Dennis Wheatley (1897 – 1977) was one of the most prolific, widely-read, and successful authors of the twentieth century. Throughout his colourful career, Wheatley penned over 50 novels, a multitude of short stories, and produced a variety of non-fiction texts. His association with the British military is well documented, and he contributed to the war effort during the 1940s. Indeed, his involvement with the War Office, and the planning of the Allied invasion of northern France, would provided the basis for much of his future fictional work.

Wheatley’s character: Gregory Sallust (the protagonist of several of his best-selling thriller novels) is now regarded as a fore-runner to Ian Flemming’s James Bond. Both authors came from a similar background and naturally shared both the dominant values and world-view of their generation. These are evidently reflected within their works of fiction. However, despite only producing several novels of an Occult orientation, Dennis Wheatley has become synonymous with the supernatural and Black Magic. Why has a man who sold over 50 million books in his lifetime gained such a mysterious reputation?

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‘In every age there have been secret societies, and the greater part of them have been brotherhoods concerned, to a greater or lesser degree, with magic.’

It could be said that Wheatley’s association with matters of a preternatural nature began during his time at prep-school in the early 1900s when he was convinced that he had seen a ghost. As he states in one of his works of non-fiction ‘The Devil and All His Works’ (Hutchinson 1971): ‘It has long been maintained by many thinkers of many nations that Homo Sapiens is endowed with a sixth sense.’ Clearly Wheatley appreciated that such matters resonate strongly within the collective consciousness of mankind, and in the 1930s he had the opportunity to draw upon this fascination to cement his reputation as a highly engaging and readable author.

‘The Devil Rides Out’ was published in 1934 and became an instant success. Wheatley’s inter-war readership were evidently mesmerised by the exotic themes of black magic, ritual, sacrifice and secret malevolent societies. Indeed, he always researched the background of every novel meticulously prior to producing a first draft. Notable occultists of this era such as Aleister Crowley, Rollo Ahmed and Montague Summers were all consulted by Wheatley on matters of the ‘Old Wisdom’.

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‘None of us can hope to lead perfect lives. But, if we follow the Right-hand Path, we shall be armoured against the temptation to do evil.’

Wheatley’s detailed descriptions of occult ceremony, practice and philosophy within his novels have lead many to speculate whether or not he was a practitioner of the ancient arts himself. Although he denied ever having been involved with a secret society during his life-time, it is patently obvious that he possessed a profound understanding, appreciation and respect for the Occult. For example, ‘Strange Conflict’ (published in 1941) describes the curious ability of adepts to wage combat upon the astral plane against the backdrop of the Second World War.

Sceptics would of course scoff at Wheatley’s suggestions, but it must be borne in mind that many of the leading Nazis were deeply influenced by the dark arts. The so-called ‘Magical Battle of Britain’ has been discussed in Dion Fortune’s fascinating work of the same name. It should also be remembered that governments old and new (from King Saul’s dealings with the Witch of Endor in the Book of Samuel, to Queen Elizabeth’s reliance on the magick of John Dee, and Margaret Thatcher’s government’s consultation with astrologers prior to the Falklands Conflict) have called upon the powers of the unseen during times of national crisis.

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‘Today the world is threatened with a new age of Darkness.’ 

A fitting testimony to the enduring appeal of Dennis Wheatley’s work is his perennially increasing cult following. His novels remain very popular, and the Hammer Horror productions of his Occult stories are much revered by Horror fanatics. Wheatley’s geo-political stance and seemingly unswerving loyalty to Queen and country may be antiquated and somewhat ridiculous to some, but there is much within his works of great value to contemporary readers and those who approach them with an open mind.

To find out more about the author David Fox, visit his website: David Fox Magician.

Spirits on Film?

Is it really possible to photograph those who have passed on?

Magician David Fox explores…

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Sir Victor Goddard’s RAF squadron circa 1919

This year we commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and the above photograph of an RAF squadron was taken in 1919 after the cessation of hostilities. The men and women in this image all served in the same unit during the conflict alongside Sir Victor Goddard (who took the shot). Uncannily a mysterious spectral face can be seen to the rear of the fourth gentleman from the left on the back row.

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The image of Freddy Jackson, who had died two days before, appears behind the back row.

Members of the squadron quickly identified the man to be Freddy Jackson; a mechanic, who had been tragically killed in an accident two days before the photograph was taken. Indeed, Jackson’s funeral took place on the day of this group shot and his subsequent appearance in the image raises some profound questions. Is it possible to capture evidence of an afterlife using photographic equipment? Or is this merely an example of an elaborate hoax conducted by individuals of superior technological wisdom?

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Newby Church altar 1963. The photograph was taken by Reverend Lord and experts cannot explain the mysterious shrouded figure.

Ghost hunters, psychic investigators and spiritualists have long argued that it is indeed possible to record evidence of the departed by using even the most basic of recording equipment. In recent years it is not only photographs of supposed spirit forms which have entered the public domain, but a whole variety of film clips boasting both visual and audio ‘evidence’ of a seemingly otherworldly nature. Exponents of this viewpoint argue that experts can visit notorious venues of preternatural phenomena and use their sensitivity and awareness to successfully ‘record’ the activities of the deceased. So-called ‘ghost-hunts’ at apparently haunted venues have become commonplace throughout the UK and have provided a much welcome source of revenue to hoteliers.

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The gardens to the rear of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire. Note the curious misty ‘figure’ to the centre left.

My vocation takes me to many spectacular locations throughout the British Isles and it is incredible how many venues I perform at which are said to be ‘haunted’. It always strikes me as nothing short of extraordinary how even the most level-headed and austere of hotel managers can suddenly divulge his or her own spine-chilling account of nocturnal queerness on the premises. Such people seem to be fully convinced in the existence of an afterlife and the occurrence of supernatural activity around their venues. Indeed, prior to most performances I always take a few photographs around the hotels, halls and stately homes I am fortunate enough to perform magic at. On a closer inspection, it is rather peculiar that I do often find unusual shapes, orbs and irregularities among the images. For example, the most recent being the misty ‘figure’ in the trees to the rear of Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire (see photograph above). I since discovered that this venue is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a servant girl who took her own life.

For more information about the author, why not visit David’s website: David Fox Illusionist Extraordinaire

Aleister Crowley – The Beast 666 – MI6 Agent?

Title: ‘Secret Agent 666’  Author: Richard B. Spence  Year of Publication: 2008

The name Aleister Crowley is always certain to exacerbate an intriguing myriad of reactions from both dedicated Occultists and those with merely a casual acquaintance with the arcane alike. The self-styled ‘Great Beast 666’ continues to cast his influence over the contemporary New Age movement, as well as the artistic world, many years after his death in 1947. Mysterious, eccentric and with talent in abundance, Crowley is both revered and detested in equal measure. Indeed, such a complex personality always makes for ‘good copy’ and it is small wonder that numerous texts have been produced over the past sixty years focusing primarily on Crowley’s colourful lifestyle and his profound interest in Occultism (or Magick as he preferred to call it: ‘the Art and Science of causing Change to occur in conformity with the Will’).

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I have been fortunate to have read several biographies of this mythical figure, as well as Crowley’s ‘Confessions’. All these offerings have been most illuminating, but in my opinion Lawrence Sutin’s ‘Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley’ offers the most objective, balanced and well researched piece of investigative work to date. The purpose of this article is certainly not for me to expound a character reference of Crowley (there is ample opportunity for those interested to formulate their own opinion in the local library or bookshop) but to draw attention to a refreshing and insightful piece of investigative work by Richard B Spence.

Several years ago Channel Four ran a series of documentaries entitled ‘Masters of Darkness’. These focused upon the familiar rogues gallery of historical ‘villains’ one is likely to encounter in any compendium of the weird and the wonderful: the Marquis de Sade, Dr John Dee and, of course, Aleister Crowley all featured. I was amazed that Crowley was branded a ‘traitor to the British people’ by the narrator having been made aware of his involvement within the secret services of Her Majesty’s realm during a conversation with a prominent occultist many years ago. Thus, I was most intrigued to learn of the publication of a text dedicated entirely to his activities within the world of espionage and counter-espionage.

Meticulously researched and engaging, Spence sets out his intentions from the onset: ‘this book is not intended as a general biography of Crowley nor in any way a treatise on his writings and thought, and it takes no position on the reality of magic and the supernatural’. Furthermore, Spence very correctly deduces that ‘the same magical retreat may be both essential to the health of the spirit and useful as a cover for spying’. This was most certainly the case for Dr John Dee during Elizabethan times and Crowley who, as a student of Cambridge University and as a member of the Golden Dawn, had access to many of the most influential artistic and political figures of his generation. In essence, it would have been extremely foolish for the British secret services not to have utilised someone of Crowley’s pedigree and caliber during the turbulent times of World War One, the uncertain inter war years, and the calamity of the Second World War.

Spence’s research into Crowley’s activities in New York during the First World War is captivating, and he invites us to appreciate how instrumental Crowley was in influencing the emerging super power to support the British war effort against the Kaiser. American sympathies very much hung in the balance between British and anti-imperialist (primarily Irish and German interests against Britannia) during this critical period. Spence also sheds light upon Crowley’s involvement with the Lusitania disaster, which will be of great interest to conspiracy theorists; the sinking of which ultimately drew the Americans into the conflict on the side of the British Empire.

The reasons for Crowley’s seemingly bizarre decision to establish an occult commune on the island of Sicily are also addressed. Spence puts forward strong evidence to suggest that he was in fact spying for the British government on both the French military and the Italian fascists. Indeed, such a strategic position in the Mediterranean would have rendered Crowley an excellent accessory for the British security services. This section of Spence’s work also compliments the account provided to me by the gentleman I spoke to several years ago. Mussolini’s decision to expel Crowley may have not been solely for his much publicised occult practices and more so on account of his involvement with the shadowy embryonic machinations of MI6.

Crowley’s influence and involvement within various German occult groups during WWII would most certainly have been appreciated by MI5 and MI6 alike. Indeed, Spence notes that on the outbreak of hostilities, Crowley ‘completed form for NID’ (British Naval Intelligence Division) and raises questions on his involvement with the Rudolf Hess affair. This episode has been previously visited by Amado Crowley in his work ‘The Riddles of Aleister Crowley’ and once again parallels the account I was provided with by a prominent occultist. Whatever the truth, we can rest assured that Crowley would most certainly have been considered a useful appurtenance in the fight against Nazism by the British security services. Indeed, Crowley himself did take credit in suggesting the famous ‘V for victory’ sign which was famously used by Churchill during the early 1940s.

Spence deserves a considerable amount of credit for producing such a well-researched and captivating text. One might say that it is a thankless task to paint a figure of notoriety such as Crowley in a more positive light, but this is an essential piece of academic study which will doubtless draw much more critical acclaim. The author has clearly spent a substantial amount of time researching British and French governmental archives, as well as a diverse range of extraneous sources, to provide an incredible profile of Aleister Crowley which has, until now, remained hidden from the public gaze.

For anyone with an interest in Aleister Crowley, ‘Secret Agent 666’ is essential reading and will not only expand one’s awareness of this extraordinary colossus of occultism, but greatly extend the reader’s appreciation of history and the shadowy political underworld during the tumultuous period of the early twentieth century.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional magician and freelance writer based in Nottingham, England. Visit his website at: http://www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Telly Savalas’s Ghostly Encounter…

The Man Who Immortalised ‘Kojak’

Magician David Fox explores…

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The late, great Telly Savalas is most certainly not the type of personality one would associate with anything of a supernatural nature. Charismatic, straight-talking and with talent in abundance, Savalas became a household name from the 1970s onwards for his masterful portrayal of the indefatigable New York detective Kojak. Revered throughout Hollywood and beyond, the world-famous actor, singer and celebrity passed on in January 1994. However, it is a curious tale from the late 1950s which caught my attention several years ago…

A Stranded Motorist

 

The story involves Savalas’s bizarre experience when driving home from a social event in Long Island during the small hours. Accounts vary as to where he had been, but Savalas became stranded on a lonely stretch of highway after his car ran out of petrol. Pondering his rueful situation, he decided to leave his vehicle and seek out a service station.

A fortuitous encounter?

Eventually, after travelling on foot for some time, a passing motorist spotted the lonesome pedestrian, stopped his vehicle, and kindly offered Savalas a ride. The actor recounted how the driver of the car appeared to be rather unusual and spoke in a curiously high pitched and unnerving tone. Nonetheless he persevered with this rather eccentric nocturnal Samaritan, collected petrol at the station, and accepted a ride back to his abandoned vehicle. The mysterious driver even lent Savalas a few dollars to pay for the fuel and, feeling very embarrassed, the actor requested his name and telephone number so that he could return the funds to him in due course. Savalas also remembered the driver speaking suddenly about a relatively obscure baseball player. The sudden change in conversational topic had been rather unsettling to say the least. On arriving back at his car, Savalas duly thanked the man for all his help and bid him goodnight.

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Strange news…

Savalas returned to work the next day and quickly forgot about the events of the previous evening until he happened to notice a headline on the front page of a local newspaper. The story was about the sudden death of an up-and-coming baseball star. Bizarrely it was the very sportsman who the driver had spoken of during their journey together. Savalas decided to call the telephone number he had been given in order to return the borrowed money and put closure on the event. However, on telephoning, matters took an even more mysterious and disturbing twist….

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Who was the strange driver who gave Telly a ride?

The man from nowhere…

On phoning the hand-written number, Savalas was greeted by a woman’s voice. He promptly requested to speak to the gentleman who had assisted him the previous night. In no uncertain terms, the actor was informed that the man he asked for had been dead for some time. It eventually transpired that the woman at the end of the line was the ‘late’ driver’s widow and, after some deliberation, Savalas eventually managed to arrange a meeting with the lady.

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Tough guy. The only type of spirit we would usually associate with Telly would be found in a bar.

Fact or fiction?

Savalas showed the woman the scrap of paper which bore the telephone number and name of the spectral driver. The handwriting appeared to match with that of the deceased. He also discovered that the gentleman had shot himself through the throat which may have explained why his ‘ghost’ spoke with such a high-pitched accent.

Watch Telly Savalas’s accont on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axdkv0_kJZQ

Want to know more about the author? Visit David Fox Magic for more details.

David Fox Magician

David Fox is a professional magician who is based in the Midlands, UK, and travels throughout the world performing his unique brand of prestidigitation. He specialises in close-up magic, parlour magic and stage magic. Magician David Fox creates many of his own incredible effects and sensational illusions.

Intersted in the performing arts? For music, art and inspiration, check out my friend’s new blog: BarbaraCalvertBenner

Clifton Hall: A Site of Supernatural Phenomena?

An Idyllic Country Manor…

Nestled away in the picturesque environs of Clifton Conservation Village to the south west of Nottingham city centre, the imposing Georgian architecture of Clifton Hall boasts a certain majestic charm. A striking reminder of a bygone age when the Lords of the Manor of Clifton celebrated their wealth and influence throughout Nottinghamshire and beyond. The hall has a colourful history, and in 1631 King Charles I resided there at the behest of Sir Gervase Clifton. Indeed, since the estate was sold off by the Clifton family in 1958, it has been utilised by several owners for much different purposes. Firstly as a girls’ grammar school until the 1970s, then by Nottingham Trent University, and later as private luxury accommodation. However, it was under its most recent ownership that Clifton Hall sprang to the attention of both local and national media outlets.

Haunted Hall?

Reports of Clifton Hall being a site of unusual and inexplicable phenomena would appear to date from the time when it was used as a grammar school from 1958 to 1976. There are accounts of strange eerie noises and an unsettling atmosphere in specific locations around the main building. An eye-witness account of the ghost of a young woman in the vicinity is also most revealing, and there appears to have been speculation about supernatural activity within rooms which had been sealed off. Sceptics would argue that such locations are ripe for curious tales of intrigue which are often intended to scare younger boarders and are the mere products of vivid adolescent imaginations. Nonetheless, it is the sensational experiences of the Rashid family, who moved into the hall in 2007, which have attracted much attention and speculation.

A Tormented Family…

In 2007 businessman Anwar Rashid acquired Clifton Hall for the sum of £3.6 million and moved into the property with his wife and four children. Within eight months the family would have left their new home, driven away by seemingly disturbing and unsettling forces from another dimension. An intriguing cavalcade of psychic phenomena contributed to the family’s hasty decision to quit their stately accommodation. Eerie events included: sinister spectral voices, ghostly sightings, and, perhaps most upsetting of all, the manifestation of blood stains upon one of the children’s bed sheets. Mr Rashid even went so far as to invite psychic investigators to Clifton Hall to reckon with its demonic denizens. The coordinator of this metaphysical inquiry curiously concluded that the venue was one of the most unsettling places he had ever visited, even throughout the hours of daylight. The family ceased mortgage payments in 2008 and since then it has been on the market awaiting a new buyer to negotiate with its supposedly supernatural tenants…

Illusion or Reality?

Did ghosts and supernatural phenomena really drive a family away from their new home? Is Clifton Hall truly an unholy lair of queer and unnatural events? Or perhaps there is a more logical explanation for the strange occurrences which would appear to have been experienced by a variety of individuals since its days as a grammar school? Last week I happened to be in Clifton meeting a client in order to prepare for a performance of magic at a function he is currently organising. On the way home, I decided to visit the hall and took some photographs around the area. The photograph below was taken at the main gate. Strangely a friend of mine (who is a psychic) examined my handiwork and felt a curious ‘presence’ at the central upper window in the shot. On a closer analysis of the picture, it is possible to see some unusual whispy ‘faces’ on both the central panes of the window. What do you think? Could this be evidence of some sort of weird supernatural manifestation, or is it simply the reflections of the trees in the sunlight?

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Below is a close-up shot of the window. It does look rather strange and no other window in any of the other photographs looks like this. I prefer to keep an open mind and reserve judgement.  The red and blue circles mark the possible outlines of spectral ‘faces’.

Clifton Ghosts