Urban Legends: The Bell Witch (Adams, Tennessee)

The legend of the Bell Witch of Tennessee is arguably the most famous haunting in the country, or at least the best documented. It has been the subject of books and movies across 200 years. The Bell Witch remains popular with tourists today – people can visit the Bell Witch Cave, located on the land where John Bell and his daughter, Betsy, reportedly experienced horrific manifestations between 1817 and 1821 in Adams, Tenn.

It began when John Bell spotted a mysterious creature in the cornfield with “the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit.” Soon after the sighting, the Bell children began hearing scratching noises and experiencing various disturbances, thought to be the result of a curse by a local woman with whom John had a property dispute, Kate Batts.

Pat Fitzhugh wrote: “The encounters escalated, and the Bells’ youngest daughter, Betsy, began experiencing brutal encounters with the invisible entity. It would pull her hair and slap her relentlessly, often leaving welts and hand prints on her face and body.” In 1820, John Bell died, becoming, Fitzhugh said, “the only person in history whose death was attributed to the doings of a Spirit.”

He continued: “In 1817, Bell contracted a mysterious affliction that worsened over the next three years, ultimately leading to his death. Kate took pleasure in tormenting him during his affliction, finally poisoning him one December morning as he lay unconscious after suffering a number of violent seizures.”

Sirens vs. Mermaids

Sirens

  • In Greek mythology, the Sirens were actually winged, half-human, half-bird creatures.
  • According to literature, the Sirens lived on an island near Scylla and Charybdis (traditionally located in the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily).
  • In most folklore, sirens have been shown singing songs.
  • In most Greek poet and tradition, the Sirens were depicted as beautiful maidens that would sit half-naked on rocky shores. They would then lure sailors to them using their beautiful singing voices; with the sailors following them not knowing that they are sailing into problems.
  • According to classical Greek poets and traditions, there are around seven named sirens, they include: Anglaope, Molpe, Peisinoe, Thelxiope, Leucosia, Pathenope and Ligeia.
  • The sirens are often cited as being fathered by the river God Achelous, with the mother usually being cited as being one of the nine muses, they include: Calliope, Terpischore, Melpomene or Sterope.
  • A famous Greek folktale claimed that the Sirens were fated to die if any mortal should hear them sing and live to tell the story.

Mermaids

  • In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish.
  • Mermaids are present in almost every culture’s mythology, from Europe and the Americas, to the Near East, Africa and Asia.
  • In all folklores, mermaids are depicted as magical creatures that live and dwell under the sea with their own culture and customs.
  • In many poets and traditions, mermaids are usually depicted as peaceful, non-violent creatures that try to live their lives away from human interference.
  • In some folklore, mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms, and shipwrecks and drowning.
  • A famous Greek folktale claimed that Alexander the Great’s sister, Thessalonike was transformed into a mermaid upon her death in 295 BC and lived in the Aegean Sea.

Salamanders

Salamanders are a type of elemental spirit commonly associated with fire. Salamanders were first described by German-Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493 -1541) and have remained popular in esoteric occultism, literature, and art since then.

Paracelsus believed that since Nature is made up of elements we can see, they must also have spiritual counterparts of peculiar creatures we can’t see. He called these the Elementals, which are now referred to as Nature spirits, and divided them into four groups gnomes (earth), undines (water), sylphs (air), and salamanders (fire).

In the folklore of Salamanders, there are two forms. The first is their association with fire: Salamanders purify the soul through fire and illuminate the mind with wisdom. Second, they represent an aspect of spirit that must be re-awakened and a force that assists in spiritual transformation.

Depictions of Salamanders vary greatly! Some people insist they are little balls of light, but during the Middle Ages, many claimed they are lizard-like in appearance. Alternatively, Salamanders are sometimes described as slender, red, and dry-skinned creatures with a malevolent demeanor.

Pùca

Pùca, sometimes spelled Pooka, is a Celtic spirit andshape-shifter that can take various forms, including horses, rabbits, goats, and humans.

It’s also known as Puck in English Folklore, is sometimes believed to use the light of Will o’ the Wisp to lure people into swamps or ditches and then fleeing with delight.

Depending on circumstances, Pooka may be helpful to humanity, but more often than not, its pranks are damaging and hurtful. It has been said that seeing a Pooka in some form is an omen of imminent death.

It was believed during medieval times Pooka would whisk away little children if they were to go near them.

Púca are said to inhabit wild places like remote thickets and glens. A household would leave a plate of food at night for the púca outside their house or yard; in return, it would do chores during the night and protect the property from fire and trespassers.

During the Celtic Feast of Samhain, it was believed the Pooka, shaped like a horse, would stomp the last seasonal blackberries and offer prophecy and divination to anyone who wished to receive it.

In Old and Middle English the word meant simply “demon.” In Elizabethan lore he was a mischievous, brownie like fairy also called Robin Goodfellow, or Hobgoblin.

As one of the leading characters in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck boasts of his pranks of changing shapes, misleading travelers at night, spoiling milk, frightening young girls, and tripping venerable old dames.

Britannica – Puck fairy

Gean-Cánach

Gean-Cánach is a type of Fae in Irish mythology known for smoking a dudeen (clay pipe). Gean-Cánach (pronounced Ghan-Caw-nah) literally translates to ‘Love Talker’ and refers to faeries known for their ability to be alluring or enchanting with their voices.

Gean-Cánach has a passion for seducing shepherdesses and milkmaids and making love to them.

You’ll recognize a Gean-Cánach faery by his lack of shadow, a mist that swirls around him, and the birds will stop singing.

Legend states that any woman who is unlucky enough to kiss a Gean-Cánach faery was doomed because he would vanish as fast as he had appeared, leaving them to die of desire.

Avoiding Being Taken By Faeries

In faerie lore there is the tradition where the fae whisk away humans to fairyland. Humans also run the risk of accidentally wandering into fairyland, which is why one might want to stay away from bluebell fields and other fairy-rich environments, and avoid consuming fairy food or drink, which could leave one vulnerable to being tricked into making a little visit there. The fairies don’t really need a reason to do so, but they might take a young man or woman who’s especially desirable to be the husband or bride of a fairy ruler; there are stories of fairies using humans as slaves in their palaces, and young mothers were desirable for their milk, which apparently is of better quality than the fairies’. And of course if you betray or upset the fairies, all bets are off.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid this tragic fate:

  • Do not step in mushroom rings.
  • If you hear music from an unidentifiable source, try not to listen.
  • Take off your coat or shirt and turn it inside out if you think fairies may be near. It sounds odd, but it works. It doesn’t so much repel them, but it does confuse them long enough for you to escape.
  • Fairies hate iron, which is like poison to them. Carry some with you—a nail or small object—just in case.
  • To avoid being taken by fairies, keep on their good side. Show them respect. Leave them a bowl of milk (or bread, cream, butter, or ale) outside your door.
  • As you walk by a natural body of water, throw in a piece of silver as a gift for them.
  • By all means, if you ever take anything from nature, leave a small biodegradable gift in token.
  • Never, ever say thank-you to fairies for anything they’ve done. A human thank-you offends them, because they feel it trivializes their contribution and effort.
  • Do not accept fairy gifts. If you do so, you owe them. And they can ask for anything in return.
  • Never tell a fairy your name. Names have great power. If a fairy ever gives you his or her true name, it’s a huge sign of trust and not to be misused.
  • Always be polite.
  • If you do find yourself trapped in fairyland, do not eat or drink anything, no matter how alluring and delectable. You may still be able to escape as long as you follow this rule.
  • Be prepared for time to have passed differently in fairyland if you ever have need to go there. You can never visit the fairies and leave unchanged.

Sources: The Faerie Handbook

The 18 Levels of Hell in Chinese Mythology

Buddhism and Taoism—the main religions of China—both have different interpretations of hell and how it is structured, but what they can both agree on is this: Sinners who accumulate bad karma during their lives have to atone for their sins after their death. Their souls are therefore taken into hell, a fiery place consisting of several layers, courts, or circles, each doling out a different punishment for specific sins.

A big difference between the Chinese hell and the concept of hell most known in Christianity is that in Chinese hell, souls are not necessarily condemned to eternal damnation. While broadly believed in Western culture that sinners have to suffer in hell until the second coming of Christ, the Chinese version of hell is more of a purgatory, where souls are able to eventually leave and be reincarnated back into the world once they have done their time.

  • Hell of Tongue-ripping, where those who gossip and spread trouble with their words will repeatedly have their tongues ripped out.
  • Hell of Scissors, where those who destroy someone else’s marriage will have their fingers repeatedly cut off.
  • Hell of Trees of Knives, where those who sow discord amongst family members will be repeatedly hung from trees made of sharp knives.
  • Hell of Mirrors of Retribution, where those who have managed to escape punishment for their crimes while alive will be repeatedly shown their true horrific selves.
  • Hell of Steamers, where hypocrites and troublemakers will repeatedly be steamed “alive.”
  • Hell of Copper Pillars, where arsonists will be repeatedly chained to red-hot pillars of copper.
  • Hell of the Mountain of Knives, where those who have killed for pleasure or without good reason will repeatedly be made to climb a mountain made of sharp blades sticking out of it.
  • Hell of the Mountain of Ice, where adulterers, deceivers of elders, and schemers will be repeatedly left out on a barren mountain of ice to freeze.
  • Hell of the Cauldrons of Oil, where rapists, thieves, abusers, and false accusers will be repeatedly fried in vats of boiling oil.
  • Hell of the Cattle Pit, where those who have abused animals will repeatedly be hurt by animals in turn.
  • Hell of the Crushing Boulder, where those who have abandoned or killed children will repeatedly be made to hold up heavy boulders, eventually being crushed by its weight.
  • Hell of Mortars and Pestles, where those who voluntarily waste food will repeatedly be force-fed hell fire by demons.
  • Hell of the Blood Pool, where those who disrespect others will be thrown in and submerged into a pool of blood.
  • Hell of the Wrongful Dead, where those who have commited suicide—considered deliberately going against the karmic course of the universe—will be force to repeatedly wander the realm without a way out, while being pelted constantly by the Winds of Sorrow and the Rains of Pain.
  • Hell of Dismemberment, where tomb raiders will have their bodies repeatedly be torn into pieces.
  • Hell of the Mountain of Fire, where thieves, robbers, and the corrupt will be repeatedly thrown into the fiery pits of an active volcano.
  • Hell of Mills, where those who have misused their power to oppress the weak will repeatedly be crushed in a stone mill.
  • Hell of Saws, where those who have engaged in unethical or unfair business practises, or exploited loopholes in the legal system, will be repeatedly sawn in half by demons with saws.