A Mystery for the Modern Age: The Georgia Guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones
Photo courtesy of Belinda Dobie
The Georgia Guidestones is a unique and peculiar monument. It is a modern structure and yet is a near-complete mystery. The monument is located on a hilltop in Elbert County, Georgia. It has been there for nearly thirty years, confusing scientific minds and angering many Christian groups.

The Georgia Guidestones consist of four tall granite slabs, a centerpiece of equal height and a capstone that sits atop the five stones. The four granite slabs are each 16 feet, 4 inches tall. They are 6 feet, 6 inches wide and 1 foot, 7 inches thick. They each weigh more than 20 tons. The capstone weighs roughly 25,000 pounds. This structure has led to the nickname the "American Stonehenge," which is shared with a native location in New Hampshire.

A man who called himself Richard C. Christian commissioned the Georgia Guidestones. Richard went to the Elberton Granite Finishing Company in 1979 and said that he wanted to build a monument that would send a message to mankind. When the man there heard the scope of the project, he told Richard that he would need some proof that he would be able to pay for it. He could not start on such a job (the largest that the company had ever undertaken) without reassurance. So, Richard C. Christian went to the local bank.

At the bank, Richard spoke with banker Wyatt Martin. He told Martin that Richard C. Christian was a pseudonym and that he and a private group had been planning the construction of the Georgia Guidestones for twenty years. They wished for the entire project to remain strictly anonymous. Wyatt later said that Christian was well dressed and well spoken. He had no reason to believe that the man was not sane or a prankster. Nonetheless, he needed to know Christian’s real name before he could conduct any transactions with him.

Christian agreed, but with a few conditions. After the transactions were complete, the documents with his name on it were to be destroyed. Wyatt would also have to sign a document stating that he would never reveal Christian’s identity to anyone. These terms were met and so Christian set about finding a location for the monument and getting all of the details sorted out. The name of the group that Christian was acting on behalf of was never disclosed, nor was the identity of any other parties involved.

Construction on the Georgia Guidestones began in 1980. Before the stones were even finished being etched there were rumors that they were the work of the devil. There were also rumors that they would become some sort of pagan landmark. The rumors got even worse once the monument was finished. Some people believe that the New World Order commissioned it. Others believe that it sets forth the commandments of the antichrist. Others still believe that it contains guidelines, or advice, for survivors of the apocalypse. Yet another belief is that followers of Thomas Paine commissioned them. This actually may be true, given that there are certain parallels between the guides and Paine’s “The Age of Reason.”

Now, the reason for all the to-do about the Georgia Guidestones is not so much the mysterious stones, but their design and message. Richard C. Christian had a few specifications for the large stones he asked for. They were to be notched and have holes in them that would allow for the structure to act as a compass and a calendar. The sun shines through a hole in the capstone and shows what day it is on the centerpiece everyday at noon. The North Star can be viewed through a slot in the centerstone all of the time. There are also other ways to track the movement of the stars and sun with the Georgia Guidestones.

The above functions obviously give the monument a decidedly ancient pagan feel. However, that is not the contention of many modern Christians regarding the Georgia Guidestones. The problem seems to be the “commandments” that were etched into either side of each of the four slabs and, what could be a sort of title that was etched into the capstone. On the capstone, the words “Let these be guidestones to an age of reason” were etched in classical Greek, Sanscrit, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Babylonian cuneiform. On the stones were ten “rules,” “guides,” or “commandments,” depending on how you look at them. They were written in English, Swahili, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, Arabic,
Chinese and Hindi.

This is what they read in English:

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature
  2. Guide reproduction wisely-improving fitness and diversity
  3. United humanity with a living language
  4. Rule passion-faith-tradition-and all things with tempered reason
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and courts
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties
  9. Prize truth-beauty-love-seeking harmony with the infinite
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth-Leave room for nature-Leave room for nature

The meaning of the guidestones is relatively clear. A group of people wanted to set forth their beliefs on a monument that the rest of humanity could read. It is obvious that their hope is that these beliefs are viewable for quite some time. Are these statements simply ideals that these people hoped the world would understand and some day abide by? Are they ideals that these people hoped would help guide humanity after an apocalypse? Or, are they the commandments of the antichrist or the beliefs of the New World Order? We may never know. The only man who knew the identity of the only individual known to be connected to the text on the Georgia Guidestones has sworn to carry his secret to the grave.


Sullivan, Randall, American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse, retrieved 1/25/10, wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/ff_guidestones?currentPage=4

Glacier Girl and the Lost Squadron

Glacier Girl in Flight
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States became involved in World War II. One of the first Operations that the U.S. participated in was named Operation Bolero. Operation Bolero was essentially the planned movement of Allied aircraft from the U.S. to the United Kingdom for use in the European theater of war. One of these aircraft movements resulted in one of the most intriguing cases of missing planes in history. Pilots had been forced to abandon eight fighter planes in Greenland and despite all efforts at relocating the planes, none were found until fifty years later. They became known as the Lost Squadron.

During the early summer of 1942, eight P-38 fighter planes and two B-17 bombers departed the U.S. en route to the United Kingdom. The flight plan for the squadron required three refuelings before the final landing in Europe. After refueling in Greenland, the squadron took to the skies to complete the leg of their journey that would take them to Iceland for refueling there. Two of the P-38s were left behind because of mechanical problems that prevented them from finishing the journey. Along the way to Iceland, the eight remaining planes’ pilots were forced to bring the aircrafts up to roughly fourteen thousand feet in order to remain above some dense storm clouds that they had encountered along the way.

The crewmembers aboard the fighter planes were now faced with -10 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. They did their best to keep their minds off of the cold and stay warm in whatever way possible. While they were up in the air in the horrible cold, they were also attempting to find a way out of the bad weather. However, this seemed impossible, as it appeared to be no better in any direction. They decided to attempt a trip back to the base that they had come from, but their situation didn’t get any better with a change of direction. At this point, fuel was running low and it became necessary to find a safe place to land the squadron.

The place chosen for the landing was an ice cap on eastern Greenland. All eight planes were able to land successfully though at least one crash landed. None of the twenty-five men that were on board the planes were injured. They were in a rather tight spot, though. It was necessary to immediately construct heating devices out of parts that were taken out of or off of the squadron’s planes. It was three days before two C-47 transport planes were able to drop off supplies for the men. It was another eight days before they were rescued from the icy wilderness. The planes were abandoned.

Several years after the rescue of the crew of the Lost Squadron, thirteen searches were conducted for the abandoned planes. The searches turned up nothing until August of 1992, when one of the P-38s was removed from beneath 268 feet of ice. That particular P-38 became known as “Glacier Girl.” Over time, the heavy snowfall in the area had trapped the squadron under the ice and the planes were engulfed in the glacier.

The only plane from the Lost Squadron that was removed from the ice was the “Glacier Girl.” The pieces of the plane were eventually moved to Middlesboro, Kentucky, where experts pieced the plane back together. Amazingly, the aircraft flew again in October of 2002. It can be viewed at the Lost Squadron Museum in Middlesboro, KY.

The Legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine

Weaver's Needle
Photo by Ihelewa

The Lost Dutchman Mine is a legendary location that might be located outside of Phoenix, Arizona–in the Superstition Mountains. The mine is supposed to be chock full o' gold, but no one is sure of its precise location or if it truly exists. It is certain that a number of people have gone into the Superstitions and come out with a significant quantity of gold ore. It is also certain that a number of people have vanished in search of the mine or have been found dead after having gone to the mountain. More than that is speculation.

The first prospectors ever to go in search of the Lost Dutchman Mine were told of its existence by the local Apache Native American tribesman. The Apache seem to have known of gold in the mountains for a long time before white men came in search of it. However, the Apache believed that their Thunder God resided in the mountains and would punish anyone who looked for gold there, so they refused to tell anyone where the gold was located.

In 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado came to Arizona from Mexico in search of the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola. The Apache told him of the gold in the Superstition Mountains, so he decided to look for it. He and a group of men went to the mountains in search of the gold but were waylaid by horrific tragedies. The men of the party kept vanishing, some were found dead with their heads removed from their bodies, while others simply disappeared. Those who survived would not venture near the mountains again. They never found the gold.

In 1845, Don Miguel Peralta left Mexico specifically to find the gold in the Superstitions. (At this time the Lost Dutchman Mine did not exist, even in legend.) He evidently found a very rich goldmine. He marked the location by carving his name into Weavers Needle and returned home for some mining supplies and workers. Soon after he returned to Arizona with his equipment and men, he began sending large quantities of gold home to Mexico.

Things did not turn out well for Miguel, despite his having apparently found the Lost Dutchman Mine. The Apache became restless because of the group’s presence in the mountains and so they planned to attack the mine. Peralta heard of this and closed the mine, hiding the entrance. The Apache killed him and all of his men as they attempted to leave the area. Their remains and the gold they had carried with them were reportedly found throughout the area for years to come.

Further evidence that there was gold in the mountains came in 1870, when an army doctor by the name of Abraham Thorne was brought to the mountain by a group of Apache who respected the help that the doctor had given them on their newly formed reservation. They blindfolded the man and brought him to a canyon where they removed the blindfold. The doctor said later that he found gold piled up there for him, but that he did not see a mine.

Not long after the Apache led the doctor to gold, the eponymous Dutchman came to the Superstition Mountains. The Dutchman was actually a German man by the name of Jacob Walz who came to the mountain in search of gold with his partner Jacob Weiser. Not long after the duo went to the mountain, they came out and began spending gold nuggets in Phoenix. There is much speculation regarding whether the men actually found their Lost Dutchman Mine, if they actually stole the gold or if they had found a hidden cache from the Peralta party. The speculation continues to this day.

During the following twenty years, Jacob Walz was seen spending gold nuggets intermittently, but always after a trip to the Superstitions. Jacob Weiser was not as lucky. At some point during those twenty years, he disappeared. There are many stories about what happened to the second Jacob, but the manner of his disappearance has never been proven. Waltz dropped hints about his having found a mine, but he never showed anyone the location. He claimed to have hidden it completely before his death in 1891. Following his death, the Dutchman and the Lost Dutchman Mine passed into legend.

Many people have gone in search of the Lost Dutchman Mine since that time, but to this day, no one has proven it exists. In fact, people seem to meet their doom rather than find gold when they go prospecting at the Superstition Mountains. A surprising number of people have been found in the mountains with fatal bullet wounds, but what is even worse is the number of people that have been decapitated there and the period of time over which the decapitations happened. These horrific deaths obviously lend to the mystery of the Lost Dutchman Mine because people still go to the Superstitions in search of gold to this day.

The Mysterious Mekong River Lights

The Mekong River is one of the longest rivers in the world. It starts in the mountains of Tibet and flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The section of the Mekong River that is located near Nong Khai, Thailand is home to an odd phenomenon that has some scratching their heads while others cry hoax. This phenomenon is known as the Mekong River Lights, the Naga Lights and the Nekha Lights.

The Mekong River Lights are red balls of light that appear on the surface of the Mekong River near Nong Khai, Thailand during the October full moon ever year. The lights appear to dance for a moment before shooting up into the sky and vanishing. Some eyewitnesses say that the lights originate at the bottom of the riverbed and that they burst forth when they reach the surface. The lights reportedly happen at other times of year too. The October full moon is just the most popular time to view them.

There are those who say that the Mekong River Lights are a hoax; however, they have been occurring for so long that they have spawned their own legend. Local believers say that the Serpent King Naga lives in the river. Some say that the lights are the eggs of Naga's wife being ejected into the world. Other locals, those who call them the Nekha Lights, believe that the large Nekha fish that dwell in Mekong River cause them. The latter seems more likely, but still unlikely.

Those who claim that the Mekong River Lights are a hoax say that locals set off some sort of rockets or flares to attract tourists. There are a few problems with this theory, though it still may be true. Firstly, why would they spend the money to do this outside of the October full moon? That is when tourists are drawn to the site. Secondly, the Mekong River Lights are not accompanied by the bangs, hisses or whistles that would be a dead giveaway. Lastly, the Mekong River Lights have been around for at least a hundred years, likely longer. How would this hoax be carried on and kept secret for so long?

Dr. Manas Kanoskin of Nong Khai, Thailand believes that methane pockets, which are pulled to the surface by the full moon, cause the Mekong River Lights. An engineer who recently built a bridge in the area says that there is no way. The bed of the Mekong is too rocky near Nong Khai to have methane build up like that. Other experts disagree with Kanoskin as well. However, unless there are tests done in the area, no one can say for sure one way or the other. The locals will continue believing it is the Serpent King and the scientists will continue arguing over the issue or ignoring it altogether until then.

The fact of the matter is that the Mekong River Lights are certainly real. Thousands upon thousands of people have witnessed them. They have been written about, photographed and made legend. There is no denying their existence. There is just the small matter of what they are exactly.

Sokushinbutsu: The Art of Self-Mummification

Many cultures on Earth mummify the dead. There are even cultures that made mummies inadvertently by burying them under the right conditions. Therefore, mummies are relatively common. However, it is nearly unheard of for people to mummify themselves, but it has happened. In Japan there are more than two-dozen mummies, known as the Sokushinbutsu. These Sokushinbutsu were very dedicated monks who committed suicide for the sake of mummifying themselves and achieving holiness.

The monks who performed Sokushinbutsu were followers of an ancient form of Buddhism known as Shugendo. For Shugendo monks, performing self-mummification was not suicide.  It was the ultimate act of self-denial and a way to separate themselves from the material world. Of course, that didn’t change the fact that it was suicide to the rest of the world and so, the gruesome practice was made illegal in Japan in the late 1800's.

Sokushinbutsu began with the monk drastically changing his diet. Most sources say that the monk would go for three years on a diet of nuts and seeds. He would also begin exercising vigorously, in order to shed any excess body fat that might hinder the mummification process. After three years of this diet, the monk would then change his diet to one of bark and roots for another three years. After a time, the monk would also begin ingesting a poisonous tea made from sap or arsenic-laced water. The amount of poison in these drinks was presumably nonlethal. The drinks were meant to aid in the loss of fat in life and to deter insects after the monk’s death. The time frame of this diet and its progression differ from source to source, but the contents are certain.

At the end of the second three-year period, the monk would then place himself in a small coffin-like box (seemingly of brick, stone or wood), in which he could do nothing but sit in the lotus position. A breathing tube was introduced into the chamber and the monk given a bell before the box was closed. The monk would then ring the bell every day until he starved to death. When the bell no longer rang, his fellow monks knew he was dead. After a period of one thousand days, they would open the box and determine whether the monk had achieved Sokushinbutsu. If the body had begun to decay, the box was permanently sealed and buried. If the body had not, the monk had achieved Sokushinbutsu and he was reverently put on display and worshiped as Buddha.

Today, there are a little more than two-dozen Sokushinbutsu in Japan. Eight of these mummified monks are on display in the Dainichi and Churenji temples. They are still thought of as Buddha by their brethren. To the rest of us, they are either testaments to the amazing power the mind can have over the body, or they are proof of how horribly far a person’s beliefs can take them. Either way, it is hard not to be amazed at the ability of Sokushinbutsu to carry out their very own mummification.

World's Largest Geoglyph Still a Mystery: Southern Australia's Marree Man

The Marree Man from above
Geoglyphs are works of art that are made either by making mounds out of material like rocks or soil or by digging lines or shapes into the soil. Most geoglyphs are impossible to see as art at ground level. However, if you view them from a plane, their shapes become clear. Some examples of geoglyphs are the Nazca lines in Peru and the Serpent Mound in Ohio, U.S.A. These are examples of rather large and well-known geoglyphs that have been around since long before our time. We also have a relatively good idea of who made them. Oddly, the largest geoglyph in the world is only a few decades old and nobody seems to know who made it. This geoglyph is called the Marree Man and it is located in the outback in southern Australia.

A pilot that was flying over the plateau on which the geoglyph is located discovered the Marree Man in July of 1998. The tremendous work of art was largely ignored, however until a local hotel owner received an anonymous fax regarding the Marree Man. The hotel owner told the local newspaper about it and the story ran on July 15, 1998. It was then the public realized there is a giant, mysterious geoglyph less than three miles outside of Marree.

The Marree Man depicts a standing aboriginal hunter with a spear or possibly a boomerang in his hand. The nude man is roughly two and a half miles tall. Some experts believe that it is remarkably accurate in its depiction of an aboriginal hunter. However, others say that it is incorrect. Either way, it is a very astonishing work of art. Experts believe that it was completed shortly before it was discovered; yet nobody noticed that it was being made. In fact, no one has ever come forward and admitted to making it. This is very surprising because whoever did it did not commit a crime.

Despite the fact that no one has come forward to explain the Marree Man to the world, experts have a good idea of how it was made. The outline of the geoglyph was made by removing the vegetation from the soil where the lines were. There was also a layer of soil removed to reveal the lighter soil beneath, thus making the Marree Man stand out against its surroundings. It is thought that the work was accomplished by using tractors or plows to move the materials, judging by tread marks left at the scene. It is also thought that the artist or artists used GPS to map out their design and make it as accurate as it is.

Today, the Marree Man is slowly fading, but it is still clearly visible from a plane. However, it will eventually erode away. For now, there is no way of knowing why it was even put there to begin with. Indeed, it may never be known who made the Marree Man or why they did it.

Update: As of fall 2016, the Marree Man is much clearer due to restorations conducted in collaboration with the aboriginals in the area. There is hope that the new grooves will fill with water and turn the dusty old Marree Man green!


Marree Man, retrieved 9/23/09

Cryptids: The Mongolian Death Worm

Artist's rendition of a Mongolian Death Worm
Cryptids are animals that, like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, have supposedly been sighted a significant number of times, but there is no concrete evidence of their existence. The Mongolian Death Worm is yet another monstrous addition to this category of mysteries. Its existence cannot be proved, which makes it equally hard to deny it.

The Mongolian Death Worm is thought, by some, to reside in the hotter southern region of Mongolia's Gobi Desert. It reportedly lives in the sand, where it spends ten months out of the year hibernating in burrows. It comes out of the ground in June and July. They say you can only see it above ground when it has been raining.

Mongolian Death Worms are worm-like creatures that are as thick as a human’s arm. They can grow to be between two and five feet long and are red, sometimes with dark spots. Its color has been likened to that of blood or salami. Some descriptions give the creature spike-like protrusions at both ends of its body. It is said that there is no way of discerning which end of the creature is its head and which its tail. It moves across the sand by rolling around or squirming.

This creature gets its formidable name from reports that it has the almost supernatural ability to kill anyone that touches it. Reports say it can kill a person or animal from a few feet away. The Mongolian Death Worm spits a deadly corrosive toxin several feet. The toxin causes instantaneous death. Another strange and deadly weapon attributed to the Mongolian Death Worm is an electrical charge that can work at a distance. Both of these claims are highly unlikely.

These cryptids are legendary among the nomadic tribes of Mongolia. However, the rest of the world only became aware of them in 1926 when Professor Roy Chapman wrote about them in his book, “On the Trials of Ancient Man.” As is the case with so many other cryptids, several expeditions have been sent out in search of the creature. As of yet, no proof of the existence of the Mongolian Death Worm has been uncovered.

It is possible that the Mongolian Death Worm is actually a known creature that is mis-remembered or miscommunicated. Of course, it could also be real, in which case, its ability to kill and its methods of killing have likely been exaggerated. Whatever the case may be, believers in the existence of this creature tread carefully when traveling in the southern Gobi Desert.


The Mongolian Death Worm, retrieved 11/29/09, virtuescience.com/mongolian-death-worm.html

The Cryptid Zoo: Mongolian Death Worm, retrieved 11/29/09, newanimal.org/deathworm.htm

The Legend of the Bell Witch

1894 drawing of Betsy Bell
During the first half of the 19th century, the Bell family of Red River, Tennessee was reportedly haunted by an evil entity. It became known as the Bell Witch, though descriptions make it sound more like a poltergeist. As is typical, the entire story is steeped in legend and conflicting accounts. Whether or not you believe in such things as poltergeists or witches, it is hard to ignore the number of people who are said to have witnessed the “Bell Witch” in action.

John Bell and his wife Lucy moved from Kentucky to Tennessee during the early 1800s. The couple had two children that had already married and lived away from them by then. After moving to Red River, they had three more children together. Elizabeth, known as Betsy, was born in 1806, Richard was born in 1811 and Joel was born in 1813. The family did well in their new home and eventually amassed a landholding of 328 acres. They also had a sizeable log home.

In 1817 John Bell was working in his fields when he saw a strange animal with the body of a dog. He shot at the beast, but it disappeared. Later on that night and for many nights after, the family heard loud banging noises on the outside of their house. John tried to discover the source of the noises, but came up with nothing. Not long after, the children began complaining about the sound of rats chewing on their bedposts and that something was ripping off their covers as they slept. Soon, the entire family was hearing whispers around the house.

The Bell Witch began to focus on Betsy. It would supposedly attack her physically and so brutally that it left visible marks and even handprints on her skin. After a time, John Bell turned to his friend James Johnston for help. James and his wife decided to stay at the Bell home for a few nights. Apparently they suffered the same indignities as the Bells. The voice was gaining power as well and had begun conversing with people who spoke to it. It also sang and said things that were religious in nature.

General Andrew Jackson himself became interested in the story and decided to come to the home in 1819. Apparently one of his men had a run in with the witch and the story goes that Jackson spoke to it himself. The very morning after Jackson arrived at the Bell home, he was seen in Springfield, so he must not have stayed long. Jackson’s visit lends some credibility to the story. He did, after all, become President of the United States later. However, the story is still wildly incredible.

When Betsy became engaged to a local boy named Joshua Gardner, the Bell Witch wasn’t happy and decided to torment the young couple. Betsy eventually broke off the engagement. However, the only person that the witch truly seemed to hate was John Bell.

Some stories say that the witch claimed to be the spirit of a neighbor who felt cheated in a land transaction and recently died. Whoever or whatever it was, it supposedly tortured John during a prolonged illness he was having that involved seizures and difficulty controlling his throat. There are even claims that when John Bell died on December 20, 1820, the entity said that it had poisoned him. Stories say the family found a vial of poison in a cupboard that backed up the witch’s claim.

The witch became less active after John Bell’s death, but promised to return to his wife in seven years. It is said that it came back and spent a lot of time talking to John Bell Jr. about theology, history and life. It then left saying that it would return to his descendants in 107 years. There have been no claims from John’s descendants that this has happened. Of course, we can’t be sure that any of this happened.

The Pacific Triangle

You can think of the Pacific Triangle as the equivalent of the better-known Bermuda Triangle in the Atlantic Ocean. It is also known as the “Formosa Triangle, the “Devil’s Sea” and the “Dragon’s Triangle.” This area of the Pacific Ocean is known for being home to odd occurrences that are nearly identical to those reported in the Bermuda Triangle. It is located in an area of roughly five hundred thousand square miles that is just off of the southeastern coast of Japan.

Reportedly, around two thousand ships and aircraft have gone missing somewhere in the Pacific Triangle. There have also been reports of ghost ships, UFOs and disturbances with electronic equipment. There have even been reports of UFOs coming straight up out of the ocean in the Pacific Triangle and flying off. Simple navigational equipment, such as compasses, have also supposedly malfunctioned in the area. Clocks have been said to stop working and suddenly change time as well.

The ancient people of Japan used to tell stories of dragons that resided in the vicinity of the Pacific Triangle. They told of bright lights and loud noises in the area that supposedly came from the dragons. There is also a local legend that tells of a giant dragon whose lair is in the Pacific Triangle. The disappearances in the area have most likely been occurring for centuries. However, they have only been documented frequently within the pas few decades. Before that time, the majority of people who knew of the Dragon’s Triangle were Japanese. Knowledge of the hazards of that particular stretch of ocean has spread to other parts of the world since then.

Volcanic and seismic activities are thought to be a probable cause for the strange incidents that occur in the Pacific Triangle. This is actually quite possible because both volcanic and seismic activities are common in the area. Islands and other land features in the Pacific Triangle have been known to disappear, appear and drastically change in a matter of days. If these natural occurrences can do that, than it is perfectly feasible that they could cause a ship to disappear. Of course, that doesn’t explain the supposed UFO and ghost ship sightings. Proposed explanations for those sightings include black holes, aliens, military experiments and all of the other typical paranormal activities.

Royal Women Who Went Insane

It’s true that throughout history there have been many royals that people say were insane. Unfortunately, there are instances where we can’t be certain of these claims because of a lack of evidence or political agendas. Still, history remembers them as such and it is strange indeed. In this article, we will focus on some female members of the royal class, who will, for one reason or another, be remembered for their troubled mental states.

Juana of Castile

Juana of Castile was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle of Spain. She was the Countess of Flanders, the Duchess of Burgundy, the Archduchess of Austria and, eventually, the Queen of Spain. She was often referred to as Juana la loca, or Juana the Mad.

Juana of Castile is considered insane because of an unhealthy obsession she had with her husband Phillip the Handsome, who could have just as accurately been known as Philip the Promiscuous. The couple met in 1496. Philip was not long in marrying her, bedding her and moving on to other women. This did not stop Juana from loving him. She became known for fits of jealousy, which eventually developed into mental illness.

The couple obviously remained sexually intimate with each another, seeing that Juana gave birth to ten of Philip’s children. Nonetheless, he also slept with other women until his death from fever or poisoning in 1506. Juana, who was by then Queen and again pregnant, had her husband’s body dug up so that she could travel with it to Granada. The trip to Granada turned into a seemingly endless display of mourning practices. Juana also spent much time opening her husband’s casket in anticipation of a resurrection that she hoped would occur.

Juana’s father put a stop to the public display and had his daughter taken to the St. Clara’s monastery. Her husband was interred there, where she could see his grave from her window. She spent the rest of her life at the monastery, fluctuating between periods of madness and melancholy. She didn’t seem to care at all that she was the Queen.

Anna of Saxony

Anna of Saxony was a child when her parents died. She was left with a fortune and displayed signs of erratic moods and irritability from a young age. This would be the hallmark of her adult life.

Anna of Saxony married William of Orange in 1561. Her mood swings are said to have worsened when she became pregnant with her first child. The child died, but she had two more that survived infancy. She showed no signs of love or caring for them or her stepchildren. She showed nothing but public disdain for her husband and began indulging in drunken binges, which were likely very embarrassing for her royal family.

Anna of Saxony eventually left her husband, spent all of her money and became pregnant with another man’s child. Her punishment should have been execution according to the laws of the time, but William of Orange simply had the marriage annulled. She was kept at Castle Bastille, starting in 1572. By then, she was uncontrollable. She was profane, violent, hallucinating and entertaining delusions that she had killed her children. She was taken to Dresden in 1575, where her condition got no better. She died there in 1577.

Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg

Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg was the daughter of Elector Johann Sigismund and Anna of Prussia. She married King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in 1620 and was crowned Queen. Not long after the wedding, Maria began showing signs of strange personality traits. She became pregnant within four months. She miscarried by the end of the first year. Following the miscarriage, she had severe mood swings and spoke of what witnesses described as inconceivable acts of violence.

Maria Eleonora lost another child, her mother and her brother within a few months of each other. She became pregnant again soon after and her child was born dead. A few years later, she became pregnant once more. This time the child survived. It was a girl, however, and Maria had wanted a boy. She loathed the child and there were rumors that she even tried to hurt her.

The King was killed in battle in 1632. Maria went entirely insane after this. She slept with the man’s casket in her room for nearly a year. She kept his heart in a box hanging over the bed in which she and her now beloved daughter slept. Maria lived in a near constant state of agitation and inconsolable sadness until her death, 23 years later.

The Stardust Plane Crash

The Stardust was a civilian aircraft that disappeared into the Andes mountains in the late 1940's. Despite the fact that the plane was searched for immediately, it was not discovered again until fifty-three years after it disappeared. Its fate was made rather obvious by what was left of the plane. However, there are still many mysteries regarding what happened to the Stardust.

The Stardust was a civilian passenger version of the Avo Lancaster bomber. It was an advanced aircraft for the time and was capable of reaching speeds of 310 miles per hour and an altitude of more than 20,000 feet, which was nearly unheard of then. On August 2, 1947, the Stardust departed from Buenos Aires Airport in Argentina on its way to Santiago, Chile with five crew members and six passengers on board.

The Stardust maintained communication in Morse code throughout the flight. Everything seemed to be going well, but the weather wasn’t good. The captain of the Stardust, Reginald Cook, decided to attempt to bring the aircraft up above the weather for a smoother flight. Experts believe that the plane got caught in a jet stream when it reached the desired altitude. The captain would not have been aware of this, because jet streams were largely unknown at the time because very few aircraft had the capability of flying at an altitude where they would encounter one. It would seem that the jet stream blew the Stardust far off its course.

When it seemed that the plane was in position to begin its descent, a Morse code signal was sent and the pilot began lowering the plane. Soon after, a message came from the Stardust; it simply said STENDEC. This code made no sense to the recipient of the message, so he asked that the message be repeated. The same message was sent twice more. The final STENDEC that was received marked the end of communications with the Stardust. The plane never landed in Santiago and the passengers and the crew were never heard from again.

A search to find the missing aircraft was conducted shortly after its disappearance, but not one trace of it could be found. Many theories regarding the Stardust’s disappearance arose over the following fifty years. Some of these theories were plausible, but others were literally out of this world. Many of these theories were discounted when, in 1998, a pair of mountain climbers discovered some of the wreckage on Mount Tupangato in the Andes. The wreckage was fifty miles away from where the plane should have been at the time of the final communication.

It wasn’t until two years later that an investigation into the crash was conducted. In January 2010, a group of Argentinian Army mountaineers and some civilian climbers went to the site with the intention of finding some of the body parts of the crash victims in order to identify them. When they reached the site they discovered one of the plane’s engines (a Roll’s Royce creation), two of the plane’s wheels, a propeller, a hand, some clothing, chunks of hair and pieces of a victim’s midsection. Despite the fact that much of the wreckage is still missing, experts were able to come up with a very plausible theory explaining the cause of the crash and why it took so long to discover the wreckage.

Experts believe that the jet stream is the reason that the Stardust deviated from its course without the knowledge of the captain. In its new position, the plane would have crashed into the side of Mount Tupangato during its descent. It is believed that the speed of the plane and the devastating nature of the crash would have ensured that the eleven people on board died instantly. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

The reason that the Stardust remained undiscovered for so long could be because it was buried in snow and ice. It is believed that the wreckage would have become covered in snow rather quickly and that the snow would have eventually turned to ice, thus trapping the wreckage in the Tupangato glacier. As the glacier slowly and naturally moved down the mountain, the wreckage moved with it. Eventually it reached a place where the temperature was warmer and the remains of the Stardust that were discovered were released from the ice. This is the most satisfactory explanation as to why it took so long to find the wreckage.

Despite the fact that we now have a good idea of what may have happened to the Stardust, the crash is still quite mysterious. Of course, we cannot be certain that the above explanations are entirely correct and we may never be certain. There is also the fact that much of the wreckage and most of the victims remain missing. Then of course, there is the cryptic message that was sent by the Stardust three times. There is no known Morse code abbreviation to explain it and its meaning remains a mystery. It is quite possible that we will never know what the message meant to convey.


Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared, BBC2 9:00 p.m., Thursday, 2 Nov, 2000, retrieved 9/29/09, bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2000/vanished.shtml

Castle, Matt, The Star Dust Mystery, 30 July, 2007, retrieved 9/29/09, damninteresting.com/the-stardust-mystery

The Mystery of the Belmez Faces

One of the Belmez Faces
Photo courtesy of Cesar Tort

On August 23, 1971, something strange happened in Belmez de la Moraleda, Spain. A woman named Maria Gomez Pereira says she noticed a marking on her kitchen floor that looked like a human face. She told her husband about the face and he made the decision to dig up the floor and replace it with new concrete. This worked for about a week before the face reappeared. It was then that the family sanctioned the help of the local City Council. More faces appeared of both genders and many sizes.

The City Council of Belmez conducted an investigation, and once again the floor was removed. A pit filled with human bones was found some eight or nine feet below the kitchen. The bones were removed and buried elsewhere, the earth was replaced and another floor was laid. Within a matter of weeks, the faces reappeared. Stories suggest that the images could appear while a person was watching and their expressions would change when someone tried to wash them away. Some of them would stay for a short time. Others stayed longer.

There are claims that audio recordings captured whispering voices and people crying out in the kitchen. However, these sounds were never heard in the room without a recording device. It has also been reported that the faces changed according to Maria Gomez Pereira’s mood. This is suggestive of a psychokinetic phenomenon, rather than a haunting as the pit of bones suggest. Either explanation requires belief in the paranormal, so it's either that or assume the faces are a hoax or hysteria.

The faces that appeared (there are plenty of photos of them available on the internet) do look suspiciously like drawings. In other words, they do not look like images of human faces; they look like an artist’s facsimile. If a haunting or other paranormal phenomenon were to reveal itself in this way, why would the Belmez faces look so fake? Wouldn’t it be more likely that the faces would look real? There have supposedly been studies on the faces that show they weren’t painted on and are “in” the concrete. I can't vouch for the veracity of that study.

The Belmez Faces continued to appear, however they formed, for about a year. There is no evidence of paranormal activity and no one has admitted to a hoax, so the truth is anyone's guess.


The Belmez Faces, retrieved 11/12/09, discoverychannel.co.usk/paranormal/most-haunted/belmes_faces/index.shtml

The Faces of Belmez, retrieved 11/12/09, thecobrasnose.com/xxghost/belmez.html

The Rendlesham Forest UFO Sightings

Map of the Rendlesham Incident
Map of the Rendlesham Incident
In 1980, the United States Air Force was using the Bentwaters and Woodbridge Royal Air Force bases. That year, one of the biggest UFO incidents in history took place in the Rendlesham Forest, outside of the Woodbridge RAF base. This incident is known as the "Rendlesham Forest Incident" or the "British Roswell." The incident was well documented, but the question is, does the credible evidence involved in this case point to a UFO or a series of coincidental events that made one heck of a story?

On December 25, 1980, suspicious lights in the sky were seen by USAF security at the Woodbridge RAF base. A few hours later, more lights were seen in the Rendlesham Forest, near ground level, sweeping through the trees. There were also hundreds of civilian reports of meteors and strange lights in the sky. There were meteor showers that night and part of a Russian rocket was visible in the night sky in the area upon reentry. This explained the strange lights everyone was seeing elsewhere, but what about the lights in Rendlesham Forest?

Security at the base was given permission to enter Rendlesham Forest in pursuit of the strange lights. It was initially presumed that a plane had gone down in the forest. It had to be checked out. Base security and local law enforcement went out to find the source of the lights in the early morning of December 26. All of those who responded reported seeing red, blue and yellow lights. Some even spoke of a yellow mist. One of the reports indicated that at least one of the investigators from the base saw a cone-shaped aircraft made out of metal. On it were blue and red lights. It was surrounded by yellow mist. His earliest statement and drawing of what he saw show a great distance between himself and the object. He would later describe a close encounter with this craft, but that was not part of his initial report and is less credible.

When Rendlesham Forest was no longer under the cover of night, investigators found a location that some believed might have acted as a landing zone for the source of the mysterious lights. They found three "depressions" in the ground that proponents of the alien aircraft theory say are landing marks. The truth is the police concluded that the marks could have been made by animals. Lieutenant Colonel Halt, who went out days later, reserved judgment.

During the early morning of December 28, 1980, Lt. Col. Halt went into the Rendlesham Forest with the men who had investigated the lights. He was equipped with a Geiger counter and an audio recording device. They brought the device to the area with the depressions. Many sources will tell you that Halt recorded an abnormal amount of radiation at the site. The truth is, his audio recording shows that the highest count he got was .07 or 7/10ths - background radiation. They saw more lights that night. These lights mimicked the lights seen two nights earlier, but they did not find the source. If they had gone further towards the lights, more than five miles, they may have found that the source of the light was a lighthouse.

There is a lighthouse more than five miles outside of Rendlesham Forest. Skeptics believe this is the "UFO" seen in Rendlesham Forest in December of 1980. It is quite possible. The lighthouse does boast a sweeping yellow light that could have caused a yellow mist effect in the forest. It also has a blinking red light on top. It does not completely explain everything in the reports written after those two nights and mornings, but these things are rarely buttoned up so neatly.


The Halt Memo, retrieved 4/3/11, ianredpath.com/ufo/appendix.htm

Dunning, Brian, The Rendlesham Forest UFO, retrieved 4/3/11, skeptoid.com/episodes/4135

Five Common Sleep Phenomena

The mysteries of the sleeping mind are some of the hardest things to understand. Sleep in itself is only becoming less mysterious in recent years. Questions like “Why do we sleep?” and “Do we really need sleep?” are finally being answered. However, some sleep phenomena remain unexplained. Moreover, in spite of being very scary for the sufferer, there are skeptics.

The following five sleep phenomena are understood, to an extent. As you’ll see, we do know the common symptoms and even some common causes of them. Nonetheless, we can hardly understand what causes the sleeping mind to behave in such ways.

Sleep Phenomenon: Hypnopompic/Hypnagogic Hallucinations

Hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations are, quite simply, hallucinations that occur while falling asleep or waking from sleep. Hypnagogic hallucinations occur while falling asleep and hypnopompic while waking. They are sometimes accompanied by sleep paralysis. These hallucinations are, more often than not, no indication that the sufferer has a mental condition.

Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations can be auditory, visual, tactile or kinetic. A common sleep hallucination is the sensation of falling causing you to jerk yourself awake and other such mild sleep disturbances. Many people will experience this mild form of hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucination in their lifetimes. However, they can also be quite disturbing. Some people may see a person or creature. These hallucinations are often described as very realistic.

Drug abuse has been linked to hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. Certain medications, medical conditions and sleep disorders have also been linked to hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations. However, none of these things must be present for a person to experience these hallucinations. They may happen to anyone, at any time, and can be chronic or isolated.

Sleep Phenomenon: Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming is probably the coolest of all sleep phenomena. Many people actually dedicate a great deal of time attempting to achieve lucid dreams. Lucid dreams are characterized by the awareness that you are dreaming. If you have ever been dreaming and suddenly realized that you were dreaming, then you have experienced a lucid dream. This may also be accompanied with the ability to control your surroundings within the dream. Virtually anything is possible with this control during lucid dreaming.

Sleep Phenomenon: Night Terrors

Night terrors are often described as an awful experience. They are moments of terror that wake the sufferer from sleep. They are not always remembered the following day, but loved ones often become aware of the sufferer’s sleep terrors when they scream. It is very common for a person having night terrors to scream while they are waking in this state.

Symptoms of night terrors are sweating, fast heart beat, sudden waking, confusion upon waking and screaming or crying. Sufferers may see frightening images upon waking. The cause of night terrors is unknown, but they are sometimes associated with some medical conditions, stress or some medications. They are most common in children aged three to five, but may occur at any age.

Night terrors typically last between five and 20 minutes. They occur during stage four of sleep and not during REM sleep. This is one of the things that differentiate night terrors from nightmares. In fact, people suffering from night terrors usually do not recall any sort of nightmare that may have triggered their symptoms, if they can recall the incident at all.

Sleep Phenomenon: Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is exactly what it sounds like. Quite simply, it is walking while sleeping. However, sleepwalking does have some other characteristics.

Sleepwalkers may walk around calmly or they may run around and behave frantically. They nearly always have their eyes open when the event occurs, but their eyes are unfocused. They can speak, but their speech is often incoherent. They also may not answer if they are spoken to while they are having an episode of sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking often occurs in young children and teens, but it may occur at any age. It is sometimes associated with certain medications, medical conditions and psychiatric disorders. It typically occurs in sleep stages three and four.

Sleep Phenomenon: Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is another frightening sleep phenomenon. It happens when you gain consciousness during sleep, but you cannot move. It may be coupled with hallucinations, which can be disturbing. Some people who have experienced sleep paralysis believe that they have been abducted by aliens or have been possessed.

People of any age may experience sleep paralysis at any time. Experiences can be recurrent or isolated. Sleep paralysis may be associated with some medical conditions, medications or other sleep disorders.

These are only five of the most common sleep phenomena. There are many more that a person may experience. Not all of them require medical attention or treatment. Nonetheless, if any of these sleep disturbances, or any others, are distressing enough to cause significant stress, if the sufferer is losing a great deal of sleep or if they are acting out violently, medical attention may be necessary.

*This article is not meant for the purpose of self-diagnosis. I am not a medical professional. I'm just a lucid dreamer who is interested in weird stuff, so consult your doctor if you need help.


Sleepwalking Symptoms, retrieved 12/30/09, emedicinehealth.com/sleepwalking/page3_em.htm

Sleep Paralysis, retrieved 12/30/09, webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-paralysis

*Personal Knowledge

Prevalence & Comorbidity of Hallucinations, retrieved 12/30/09, sleepeval.com/hallucinations.htm

What are Hypnopompic Hallucinations?, retrieved 12/30/09, wisegeek.com/what-are-hypnopompic-hallucinations.htm

Poveglia Island: Mystery or Misrepresentation?

Image of Poveglia Island canal
Courtesy of Chris 73
Poveglia Island is a very small island that is located in Italy’s Venetian Lagoon. The island itself is rather run-of-the-mill. It is covered with a smattering of foliage, as well as some run down buildings, a water tower and a bell tower that appear to be going back to nature. Poveglia Island is split in two by a small canal that runs straight through it. The canal has walkways over it. On one side, there are the deteriorating buildings, on the other, nothing but greenery and grass. However, there is a more interesting aspect of the island that one wouldn’t suspect by looking at it, though some say you can tell when you are there, and that is the island’s supposedly sinister history.

Poveglia Island was once inhabited by a small community. However the island was abandoned around 1380, during the War of Chioggia. Later, as the Bubonic Plague spread through Europe and inevitably into Venice, Poveglia Island was reportedly used as a dump for bodies and as a lazaretto. Even worse, there are rumors that live victims of the Bubonic Plague were also brought to the island and left there. Some of the rumors say that the live victims were burned with the dead or left in mass graves full of dead bodies. There seem to be no official records of this, though. If it were true, the best fate for the live victims may very well have been fire. Bubonic Plague is a horrible bacterial infection that affects the lymph nodes. Without modern treatment, a painful death is nearly inevitable. If the victims didn’t die, they would surely have starved to death on the island.

The next phase of Poveglia Island’s history supposedly began in the early 1920's. At this time, either a menacing insane asylum or a harmless retirement community was built there. The story behind this supposed asylum makes the retirement community seem to be the more likely of the two. Lovers of the paranormal claim that evil experiments were conducted on patients of the asylum by a crazed doctor. The patients were also supposedly haunted by the plague victims who were buried on Poveglia Island. The doctor himself reportedly fell victim to these hauntings and threw himself out of the island’s bell tower. The legend goes on to say that his suicide was witnessed by an asylum worker, who said that the doctor survived the fall and was then suffocated by a mysterious mist. The asylum or retirement community on Poveglia Island was closed sometime in the 1960's.

Whether you believe any of the stories surrounding Poveglia Island or not, there is certainly something mysterious about the place. Many people have claimed to sense a presence or worse while they were visiting the island. Today, it is owned by the government and closed to the public. It is currently being used for vineyards. Whether or not the grapes that are grown there are fertilized by the bodies of the more than 150,000 people who have reportedly died there is a matter of speculation. Nonetheless, you may want to check the label of your Italian wine very closely.


shezab, Poveglia Island, retrieved 2/27/10, khirak.net/poveglia-island-004933

Poveglia Island of Horror, retrieved 2/27/10, technoccult.net/archives/2008/03/04/poveglia-island-of-horror