London Bridge is Falling Down

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The history and the hidden meanings behind a classic childhood game that can serve not only as a cheap form of entertainment for the little ones but also as: a quick history lesson of the Thames River, a “How to Build a Bridge For Dummies” guide, a very subliminal way to scare the kiddos into behaving, or a way to express our sexual desires through innuendos and maneuvers.  Yes; that’s right!  “London Bridges”, is not just for kids.

Song Reference

How to play the game

Two children face each other and form an arch by raising their arms forward and interlocking each other’s hands together.  The rest of the children take turns walking under the arch while singing the song and on the last word of the verse “lady” is said, the arch comes down and captures one of the children.  The game continues until all of the kids are captured or the little tikes get bored and restless.

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Short History Lesson

Bridging the Thames River was a long and tedious task that began during the late Roman empire era.  In 43 AD, the Romans established Londinium (London) as the capital of England.  During this time period the Romans made several attempts of building bridges over the river and finally succeeded around 50 AD.  Then, the shortly lived wooden bridge, was burned down during the Viking and Saxon invasions.  Bridges were rebuilt many times also due to natural disasters such as the 1091 tornado and the 1136 fire.

In 1176, the construction of the first stone arch bridge in Britain, “Old London Bridge”, started in efforts to replace the wooden bridges that survived from the Roman occupancy.  Peter, a priest and chaplain of St. Mary’s of Colechurch, was the architect and project leader until his death in 1205.  The construction of the bridge was completed in 1209.  The new stone bridge had 19 arches including a gatehouse with a drawbridge.  To create a source of income from the bridge, shops and homes were constructed and lined on both sides of the roadway of the bridge.  For thrills locals would shoot the bridge from their small boats.

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Three years after being completed a fire destroyed all the buildings on the bridge and killed thousands of people.  The houses and shops were quickly rebuilt narrowing the pathway to four meters (approx. 13 feet).  Do to the pressure of winter ice, five arches collapsed in the winter of 1282.  The arches were rebuilt as well.  The constant additions to the buildings eventually created a tunnel like passageway across the Thames River.  Queen Elizabeth I, ordered to have water mills added onto the structure of the bridge in the 1580s.  Despite the bridge having a bad reputation of constantly being under repairs and more and more additions being added to the shops and houses, the Old London bridge was the only crossing of the Thames River in London until 1750 when the Westminster Bridge was completed and opened.

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Shortly after the city decided to repair the London bridge the project was taken upon Charles Labelye.  All of the houses were removed and the roadway over the bridge was expanded to 14 meters ( approx. 45 feet) and the two center arches were replaced with one great arch at the middle of the bridge.  After completion in 1762, the remodeling of the arches led to erosion of the riverbed.  Eventually the city decided to give up spending resources to fix the bridge and gave the New London Bridge project to John Rennie.  The new bridge was built several yards upstream from the old bridge.  Rennie died in 1821 before construction of the new bridge could start and was picked up by his two sons.  The project was completed in 1831.  After serving the Londoners for 622 years the Old London bridge was demolished.  Rennie’s  bridge lasted almost 140 years until it was dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic ocean to the United States, where it now resides at Lake Havasu, Arizona.  The modern London bridge was built between 1968 and 1972.

The origins and meaning

Similar rhymes have been found all over Europe that pre-dates the earliest London Bridge version.  “Knippelsbro Går Op og Ned” from Denmark, “Die Magdeburger Brück” from Germany, “Pont Chus” from France, and “Le Porte” from Italy, are all suspected to be the influence of the “London Bridge” version.  The earliest reference to the English version was in the comedy “The London Chanticleers” printed in 1657.  No words of the rhyme or mention of the melody were stated, however the popularity of the rhyme and melody was greatly influenced by Henry Carey and his satire play, “Namby Pamby” in 1725.

Namby Pamby is no clown,

London Bridge is broken down,

Now he courts the gay Ladee,

Dancing o’er the Lady-Lee.

In 1823, a more popular version was printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine.

London Bridge is broken down,

Dance over the Lady Lea,

London Bridge is broken down,

With a gay lady.

Then we must build it up again

What shall we build it up withal?

Build it up with wood and stone,

Wood and stone will fall away.

etc…etc…ete…

The meaning behind the rhyme is not really clear and numerous theories have developed.  The modern version was first recorded in the late 19th century.  The game that is associated with the song resembles arch games that date back to the middle ages.  The theory of the meaning about the constant struggle of repair and rebuilding the many bridges that allowed Londoners for centuries to cross the Thames River may have some small truths, but the original rhymes regarding the London Bridge were very different compared to the earliest forms of the modern version.

The Fair Lady

The identity of the “fair lady” reference within the rhyme is uncertain, nothing has been proven, but suspicions of the identity to the reference are:

  • The River Lea – another river that feeds into the Thames River.
  • The Leigh family of Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire– a family linked to a story about a human sacrifice that lies under the bridge.
  • Matilda of Scotland– The Queen of England, Henry I consort, who was responsible for building the series of bridges between 1110 -1118.
  • Eleanor of  Provence– Henry III consort, who had custody of the revenues of the Old London bridge from 1269 -1281.

The Human Sacrifice theory

Alice Bertha Gomme, a folklorist, who wrote The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland (1894-1898);  presented the idea that the Old London Bridge could be involved in a human sacrifice during the constructions and/or reconstructions of the bridges.  Gomme pointed out that in certain variations of the “London Bridges” rhymes there is a watchman or a prisoner mentioned in the later stanzas of the songs.  Human sacrifice was believed to be necessary to protect the structures, to serve the purposes as guardians or “watchman” and protect the building from supernatural forces.  In 1880 Calcutta India locals were afraid to be out at night due to people disappearing.  Sacrificial offering towards the construction of the Hooghly Bridge was a popular suspicion to the explanations of the missing people of the area.  The prisoner reference is suspected to be metaphor for a live or dead human sacrifice to be entombed in the structure for eternity.  However, there were never any reports found stating that human remains were ever found when the Old or New London Bridges were torn down or, shall I say… falling down.

Meanwhile…

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London Bridge Today

According to the Urban Dictionary, London Brides is also a modern slang word for panties. When a lady says “you make her london bridges fall down”, she is saying you make her hot… sexually.  It is also a sexual position involving four consenting adults, two males and two females, or four females with attachments.  For further explanation look that up for yourself.

References

Gomme, A. B. (1894, January 01). The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/literature/fable/traditional-games-of-england-scotland-and-ireland/index.html

Grenby, M. O. (2014, February 13). The origins of children’s literature. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/the-origins-of-childrens-literature

Billington, D. P. (2002, October 25). London Bridge. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Old-London-Bridge

Library, W. P. (n.d.). London Bridge Is Falling Down. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from http://www.worldlibrary.org/Articles/London%20Bridge%20Is%20Falling%20Down?&Words=the origins of london bridges falling down

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Gateway to Evil or Just a Game

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The belief and/or desire to communicate with ghosts of loved ones, historical, famous, or infamous, is a common human behavior and has always been a part of human culture.  Examples of communing with the dead can be found in the Bible, mythology, classic literature, and on the shelves of your nearby children’s toy store.  Does the Ouija Board really work or is it just a game for entertainment purposes only?  

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Spiritualism in America

During the year of 1848, the obsession of spiritualism, already popular in Europe, spread like a wildfire in the U.S. when Kate and Margaret Fox; two sisters who lived in Hydesville, NY, became instant celebrities by claiming they contacted the spirit of a dead peddler.  The word “medium” is used as a label that identifies the talented or “gifted” person who has the ability of communicating with the dead by using various methods such as table turning (tilting or taping).  The medium along with the attendees would sit around a table and place their fingers lightly on the edge of the table top.  The medium would ask questions and then call out letters or numbers and if the table taps the floor on the letter or number the answer is presumed to be the spirit communicating back.    Another method was developed by placing a pencil sticking through the center of a small basket and the spirit would write out the answer of the questions  asked by the medium.  Later this tool developed into what is now known as the planchette, French for small plank.

hisc  Interesting historical tidbit…

Mary Todd Lincoln conducted a séance in the White House after their 11 year old son died from illness in 1862.

Other methods and tools were also used and developed to commune with the spirits but failed in the market.  The planchette tool became the most popular method of communing with the other side, due to the cost of manufacturing, this device was cheaper than its competitors such as the various types of dial plate instruments which were sometimes referred to as psychographs.  

In 1886 certain variations of talking boards where becoming the latest craze in the spiritual culture.  Business partners Charles Kennard, Elijah Bond, and a few other investors created their first version of their talking board.  They managed to convince a patent worker that it worked and the first patent talking board gave credit to Kennard and Bond in 1890.  The Ouija board got its name supposedly from a séance that took place with Kennard, Bond, and Helen Peters, Bond’s sister-in-law, who had a reputation of being a strong medium.  When Miss Peters asked the board “what would you like to be named?”  The board responded by spelling out Ouija.  Miss Peters asked, “What is the meaning of the word Ouija?”  The board answered back, “Good Luck”.

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William fuld

Starting as a varnisher for the Kennard Novelty Company, Fuld managed to climb the company’s ladder and became a major stockholder and eventually ended up running the company.  Fuld never claimed and is not the creator of the Ouija board, but somehow the New York Times  reported  this mis-information by declaring him the inventor.  In 1927, Fuld died from falling off the roof of his new factory.  Ironically, supposedly the Ouija board told Fuld to build the factory in the first place.

Does the board work?

If you have ever used an Ouija board at a party there are always those who will try to get a scare or a quick laugh, but it is also common when people are using the board to claim that they  are not the ones moving the planchette and accuse the other person and of course the other person denies it and says the same thing.  The ideomotor effect is the culprit behind this phenomenon.  Ideomotor actions are unconscious movements that occur when we focus on not trying to move.  The movement of the planchette on the board can occur naturally for the same reason dowsing is believed to be a good way to find water.

Is the Ouija Board evil?

Spiritualism was a very popular trend during the Civil War era.  During and after wars it is very common for people to try to contact lost loved ones.  In 1967, a year after Parker Brothers bought the rights from Fuld’s company, the Ouija board sold 2 million boards which outsold Monopoly that year.  The year 1967 was also the same year where more American troops were sent into Vietnam and also the year of  “Summer of Love” in San Francisco.  The evil reputation of the Ouija board didn’t really start developing until the movie The Exorcist was released in American theaters in 1973.  Then more horror movies used the Ouija board and helped create the evil reputation of the Ouija board that is now known today.

References

Waxman, O. B. (n.d.). ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ and the True History of the Ouija Board. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://time.com/4529861/ouija-board-history-origin-of-evil/

Jackson, J. (n.d.). The ideomotor effect. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.critical-thinking.org.uk/psychology/the-ideomotor-effect.php

Museum of Talking Boards: History of the Talking Board. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/history.html

Museum of Talking Boards – Board Gallery Page One. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/gal1.html

McRobbie, L. R. (2013, October 27). The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-strange-and-mysterious-history-of-the-ouija-board-5860627/

 

 

Warning! Potential Water Hazards

Half human and half fish or half human and half bird folklore lives and breathes in religious texts, literature, film, and big fish tales shooting from the mouths of drunken sailors spreading their over embellished stories of their voyages of the seas.  Folklore involving merfolk is embedded in cultures throughout the world, landlocked to coastal regions.

Era or Oannes

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Babylonian deity Era aka Oannes is the Fish-god that is represented on seals and sculptures that date back to 5,000 BCE.  This fish god was usually depicted to have a bearded head with a crown and a half upper half man with a scaly fish tale instead of legs. This is the first known depiction of a merman.

Atargatis

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Atargatis is a Syrian origin goddess whose influence spread to Greece, Rome, and beyond. Atargatis is the first depiction of a  mermaid.  Over the hundreds of years of being worshiped she was referred to be the goddess of fertility, goddess of the earth and water, and the goddess of love.  She is believed to be the direct inspiration to the Greek love goddess Aphrodite.

Folklore

The lore of merfolk can be greatly diverse from culture to culture.  Some folklore portray the mermaids/mermen as benevolent beings who are responsible for prosperous harvests. The morning dew on plants was believed to be the results of mermaids or water sprites dancing on land under the moon lit nights.  Other cultures perceive these merfolk to be malevolent beings that lure unsuspecting travelers with false promises of romance or luck that lead the victims to their watery deaths.

Rusalka…

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a slavic myth of a ghost, water spirit, succubus or mermaid like demon that dwells at the bottom of the rivers, lakes, or wells.  Rusalki (plural) are spirits of young women who died a tragic death anywhere near a body of water.   In some versions, unbaptized babies who were drowned by their mothers were believed to be the creations of Rusalki.  Rusalki were cursed to live in the form of a mermaid and reside in the waters to where they originally met their fate.  They would sing enchanting melodies to entrap men, women, or children to their watery deaths.  Rusalki can live on water or land and are commonly described to be pale or to have translucent skin, and to have no visible pupils.  Some stories state that they have green fiery eyes with green or golden hair which is always wet.  This variation with the wet hair description states that if the hair of the Rusalka drys, she will die.  In some versions, the Rusalki had a positive effect on crops.

Sirens…

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a Greek mythological creature described to be a half bird and half woman who lure sailors to their deaths with their beautiful melodic voices.  Homer, the ancient Greek poet, mostly known for The Iliad and The Odyssey, claimed to have seen two sirens on an island in the western sea between Aeaea and the rocks of Scylla.  In The Odyssey, the Greek Hero Odysseus wanted to hear the beautiful sounds of these creatures.  Under advisement from a sorceress named Circe, the crew stuffed wax into their ears to silence out the temptresses.  Odysseus had himself tied to the mast of the ship to prevent the temptation of the beautiful sounds that would lead to impending death.

A little History tidbit..

In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed out from Spain to find a western trade route to Asia. Taken from his journal entries, On January 9, 1493, near the Dominican Republic, Columbus noted that he spotted three mermaids.  Later, the conclusion was drawn that Columbus could have mistaken manatees for the creatures that he described in his journal entry.

References

Sullivan, K. (n.d.). Rusalka: The Mythical Slavic Mermaid. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/rusalka-mythical-slavic-mermaid-006738

Columbus mistakes manatees for mermaids. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/columbus-mistakes-manatees-for-mermaids

Took, T. (n.d.). Atargatis, the Phoenician Great Goddess. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/atargatis.php

The Beautiful Monster: Mermaids. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://blog.biodiversitylibrary.org/2014/10/the-beautiful-monster-mermaids.html

Siren. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Siren-Greek-mythology

SEIRENES. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Seirenes.html

Sirens. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Sirens/sirens.html

Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html

 

The Silver Arrow

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Urban legends involving ghost trains have been reported from around the world since the early days of locomotives.  The Silver Arrow, later to be known as Silver Pin, is a story that dates back to the the mid 1960s behind the backdrop of Stockholm, Sweden.  

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The legend begins when an experimental aluminum model C5 train was built.  1 out of the 8 prototypes was left unfinished.  The car was left unpainted and had other differences that separated it from its peers.  It was missing an air suspension, it had a whining distinctive motor sound, and it had outlying sliding doors.  It was stated the sliding doors were an idea that would allow more room on the inside of the train for passengers.  Another difference between the cars was that the interior panels were installed on the other cars that supported beautiful advertisements on the walls that brought a little color into a commuter’s mundane life.  The interior atmosphere of the The Silver Pin was described to be an urban ghetto landscape littered with graffiti and a metaphorical imagery of the daily grind mentality from the working class perspective.  The odd “red headed step child” train was only put into commission to be used as a backup car in the Stockholm metro system.

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The Folklore

The stories of the ghost train vary from each other.  One claims that the The Silver Arrow or Silver Pin is believed  to be a train that is only for the dead.  Another legend states that If one were to step into the train and sit down they would disappear forever or would finally get off the train weeks, months, or even years later.  Reports from subway tunnel workers and commuters claim to have seen Silver Pin moving down the rails filled with commuters with emotionless stares gravitating to the front of the car.

Another urban legend of a haunted abandoned metro station, Kymlinge station on Line 11 also referred to as The Blue Line, had intertwined with the legend of The Silver Pin.  Another legend  of The Silver Pin ghost train claims that the last stop on the Silver Pin is the Kymlinge station.  “Bara de döda stiger av i Kymlinge”,  (“only the dead get off at Kymlinge”).

kymlinge-station

My Thoughts…

The reputation of the train, while being in use, would probably have something to due with the infamous reputation that it later ended up earning.  Being only used as a backup would explain why common everyday commuters would rarely see the unique car.  The Silver Pin also developed the reputation of not being very reliable.  Due to it being the back up train I’m willing to bet the schedule of arrivals at the various stations would be affected.  Out of frustration, the people relying on the metro system waiting to be picked up could’ve had a part in creating the references of the legend.  I know from personal experience, while having to be dependent on public transportation from my younger days as a teenager, I had made statements such as “I  will probably be dead by the time this damn bus arrives.”  Of course I’m paraphrasing from the original comments that I made that were filled with all kinds of colorful language and euphemisms.

References

Investigations into the unknown and weird. (2013, October 9). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://silentthrill.wordpress.com/tag/silverpilen/

Journals, W.L. (n.d.). Silverpilen. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://worldjournals.org/article/WHEBN0002652899/Silverpilen

Grundhauser, E. (2015, October 7). The Silver Arrow, the Real Ghost Train Haunting the Stockholm Metro. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-silver-arrow-the-real-ghost-train-haunting-the-stockholm-metro

Ghost train (folklore). (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_train_(folklore)

Stockholm haunted by ghost train. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/europe/74125955/The-mystery-behind-the-ghost-train-that-haunted-Stockholm

Beware of the B.E.K.S (Black-Eyed Kids)

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With Halloween coming around the corner and little kids coming to the doors of strangers asking for candy, beware of the Black Eyed Kids.  If the images of movies such as “The Children of the Corn”, “The Omen”, “The Village of the Damned”, or those creepy little twin girls from the “Shining” haven’t terrified you of the little ones, this post might do it.

While reading over many encounters of these mysterious children from paranormal/UFO sites, I had the natural jerk reaction from time to time to look over my shoulders to make sure there was nothing behind me.  I also have a habit of leaving my front door open with the security door closed and locked to let the cool air breeze flow through my house during the evenings.  After reading the first few of these accounts of the black-eyed kids I couldn’t fight the urge to close my front door in fear of walking to my kitchen and seeing two silhouettes of small children peering into my house demanding me to let them in.

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Folklore

The sources that I have uncovered from surfing the internet vary about who these mysterious beings are or what their true agenda serves.  However the descriptions of the out of this world kiddos tend to match with each other.  They have pale or olive-like skin.  Their clothes usually tend to be modern of the time periods of the encounters, however the color of the clothes tend to clash or they were all black.  Their eye sockets are commonly described to be empty or missing human eyeballs and are nothing more than black voids.  The most common theme of these encounters state that the B.E.K.s have to be invited into your house or your car.  These kids do not act like normal kids.  They are not shy.  They will try to play on sympathy or resort to intimidation.  Some sources claim that these children are somehow tied or even related to M.I.B. (Men In Black).  Other sources are stating that they are hybrids of vampires and werewolves and are used to lure unsuspecting prey to the lairs of their masters or possibly vengeful spirits.

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Conclusion

Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if many claims tend to be fictitious stories that have spread like wildfire on the internet that have good entertainment value to allow bloggers, including myself, to make a living.  However there are a lot of these stories and some can be traced back to Ancient China, so the possibility of these other worldly children trying to gain entry into your humble abode could have some truths.  I’m not going to rehash all of these supposedly true encounters because it would distort other’s perception of their reality.  But, if you are interested and brave enough, check out my references and dig deeper if you dare.  If you decide to be skeptical that is normal, however, if you are visited by these creepy little kids and they try to pull the sympathy card or intimidate you, Do Not Let Them In!

 References

Newkirk, G. (2016). Witness: “I Let the Black Eyed Kids Inside, Now I’m Dying” Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://weekinweird.com/2016/01/28/witness-report-i-let-the-black-eyed-children-into-my-home-and-now-im-slowly-dying/

Stockton, C. (2013). 16 Terrifying Encounters With ‘The Black Eyed Kids’. Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://thoughtcatalog.com/christine-stockton/2013/11/16-peoples-terrifying-encounters-with-the-black-eyed-kids/

Strickler, L. (n.d.). Black-Eyed Children/Adult Encounters. Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2015/12/black-eyed-children-adult-encounters.html

They’re Back! More Encounters With Black Eyed Children – Monstrum Athenaeum. (2015). Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://monstrumathenaeum.org/theyre-back-encounters-black-eyed-children/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwjK–BRCzv-Wyu4OTosEBEiQAgFp5OG93KvdoQb51QMc5nTfhPA7XhcMyyen_NdziCWcTLaoaAgjM8P8HAQ

Relfe, S. (2008, May 7). Black Eyed Beings/Black Eyed People. Retrieved September 4, 2016, from http://www.metatech.org/2008/black_eyed_beings_people_kids.html

Harold, J. (2015, October 27). The Lore Of The Black Eyed Children – Can We Come In? Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://jimharold.com/can-we-come-in-the-lore-of-the-black-eyed-children-ryan-spragues-hidden-auditorium/

La Isla De Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls)

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Imagine traveling in a boat and then slowly approaching an island where the landscape is littered with mutilated dolls, decapitated doll heads, and doll limbs, hanging from trees like Christmas ornaments or dangling from a dead man’s noose.  Would you be brave enough to explore and stay overnight on the Island of the Dolls?

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La Isla De Las Muñecas is located on what was once Lake Xochimilco, south of Mexico City. Before the Spanish colonization the area was part of the Aztec Empire.  The Aztecs created artificial islands known as chinampas that provided a variety of crops that became a primary source of food for the people of the Empire.  These man-made islands were connected through a labyrinth of canals that established a network with other nearby lakes.

Folklore

The legend of The Island of the Dolls starts in the 1950’s.  A man, either by the name of Don Julian Santana or Julian Santana Barrera, took residence and became the caretaker of the island.  One day while Julian was walking he stumbled upon the body of a dead girl on the shore of his island.  One source states that a group of girls were playing near a canal and one of the girls ended up drowning and washed up on Julian’s island.  Some sources claim that Julian also found an abandoned doll next to the girl and out of respect he hanged the doll on a limb of a nearby tree to keep the spirit of the girl at peace.  From time to time Julian would find dolls floating in the canals nearby the island.  He would hang them from trees or tie them to trunks or posts.  It is even stated that he would venture off his island and look for discarded dolls through other people’s garbage.

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My sources vary when it comes to the reasoning for Julian’s obsession of collecting abandoned or lost dolls/doll parts and hanging them to trees.  One source claims that after discovering the girl’s body, the spirit of the girl was tormenting him and he was protecting himself from the wrath of the spirit by giving her dolls to keep the vengeful spirit happy.  His family stated that the ghost of the girl was just a figment of his imagination.  Another source stated that the girl reminded him of his daughter whom he abandoned when he decided to become a hermit and was collecting dolls for the spirit of the girl out of kindness.  However, all the variations have a common and mysterious ending.  In 2001, the dead body of Julian was found on the same exact spot where the girl was found in the 1950’s.

Tourists Beware…

The family of Julian Santana have made the La Isla De Las Muñecas a tourist site.  Tours of the Island are given during the daytime.  However,  locals claim that at night the island becomes alive.  The dolls will move their remaining limbs or heads.  It has been reported that the dolls will whisper to each other and sometimes child laughter will echo through the eerie landscape of the Island of the Dolls.

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References

Hoeller, S. (2015). There’s a terrifying island in Mexico that’s full of hundreds of mutilated dolls. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/la-isla-de-las-muecas-doll-island-in-mexico-2015-10

Swancer, B. (2014, July 01). The Mysterious and Creepy Island of Dolls | Mysterious Universe. Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2014/07/the-mysterious-and-creepy-island-of-dolls/

The Island of the Dolls in Mexico | Oddity Central – Collecting Oddities. (2009). Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/mexicos-island-of-the-dolls-is-beyond-creepy.html

La Isla de la Munecas – Island of the Dolls. (2012). Retrieved August 21, 2016, from http://unusualplaces.org/la-isla-de-la-munecas-island-of-the-dolls/

Kuchisake Onna (the Slit-Mouthed Woman)

Kuchisake Onna

The legend of Kuchisake-Onna, a.k.a. The Slit-Mouth Woman, is a Japanese tale about the consequences of vanity and infidelity that can be dated back to the Heian Era (794-1185).  Many variations of the tale have been adapted to fit modern times, but the underlying life lessons still remain.

Folklore

A very beautiful wife of a Samurai was obsessed with pulling males complimentary attention to her radiant glow of her promiscuous presence that reached a point where suspicion of infidelity started to creep into the thoughts of her husband.  Eventually the Samurai couldn’t bare the shame and  humiliation of his wife having an affair and out of rage the husband started to beat his wife and took a knife to her mouth that gave her a permanent smile from ear to ear while yelling, “who will think you’re beautiful now?”  The woman died shortly after her domestic assault and then arose as the vengeful spirit known as Kuchisake Onna.

According to the earliest version of this story that I have found, the first appearance of Kuchisake Onna was described to be wearing a Kimono and would hide her face with one of the large sleeves while haunting the streets looking for her next victim.  She would approach lone male travelers while hiding her hideous deformity with her sleeve and ask them, “Do you think I’m pretty?”  If the unsuspecting prey says yes, she will reveal her face and and ask “Do you think I’m pretty now?”.  If the victim lies and says “yes” Kuchisake Onna will give the liar a permanent smile just like hers or If he says no she will slit his throat.

Kuchisake-Onna-Legend-Wife-Of-Samurai

A more modern version of the tale states that Kuchisake Onna was a victim of a botched plastic surgery operation and haunts the streets wearing a trenchcoat and a surgical mask to cover her mouth.  Instead of using a knife as a weapon, she would use a pair of dull rusty scissors to bring a smile to her victims.

Kuchisake Onna 2

The surgical mask adaptation is the scariest version, in my opinion, due the fact that it is very common to see people commuting around the bigger cities of Japan.  Due to huge populations in cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, etc.  the fear of spreading germs is a norm in the culture of the populace and surgical masks have become the standard accessory that people wear while commuting in these cities.

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True Events

In 1979, the legend of Kuchisake Onna blew up into mass hysteria among the children of Japan.  A woman with a Glasgow Grin was witnessed chasing children around.  The news spread rapidly like a forest fire through the rest of Japan, South Korea, and even China.  Parents, teachers, and local law enforcement of Japan got swept up into the scare by closing schools earlier in the day to allow teachers to escort the children home before it got dark.   Parks, once filled with children playing, became ghost towns.  Police increased their patrols in the neighborhoods.

carved poster

Survival guide to avoid or escape the Slit-Mouthed Woman

It was a common belief that Kuchisake Onna comes from shadows, so children would avoid streets that had shadows present in the area.  Many other tactics were developed to avoid or to ward her off.  When she asks if she is pretty, answering her question with the question, “do you think you’re pretty?” or reply “So-So” is believed to confuse her and buy you sometime to escape your deadly date with this vengeful spirit.  The smell of Pomade (a certain type of hair gel) offends her and will prevent her from coming near you.  It is believed, according to the modern plastic surgery version, that the surgeon was wearing Pomade while performing his operation on the soon-to-be Kuchisake Onna and the smell of it caused her to move her head which led to her deformity and death.

References

Matsuura, Thersa. “Frightful Japan: The Torn-Mouth Woman (Kuchisake Onna) – HNN | Horrornews.net – Official News Site.” HNN Horrornewsnet Official News Site. N.p., 06 Feb. 2011. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.  Retrieved from http://horrornews.net/30080/frightful-japan-the-torn-mouth-woman-kuchisake-onna/

Kuchisake-Onna. (n.d.). Retrieved August 08, 2016, from http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Kuchisake-Onna

Wirawan, Anita. “Legend Of The Slit-Mouthed Woman: Kuchisake Onna – Anita’s Notebook.” Anita’s Notebook. N.p., 04 Feb. 2013. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.  Retrieved from http://anitasnotebook.com/2013/02/legend-of-the-slit-mouthed-woman-kuchisake-onna.html

Schwarz, Rob. “Kuchisake-Onna, the Slit-Mouthed Woman.” Stranger Dimensions. N.p., 01 July 2013. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.  Retrieved from http://www.strangerdimensions.com/2013/07/01/kuchisake-onna-the-slit-mouthed-woman/