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Ghost, Spiritual Or Historic Stories For Pubs And Restaurants

The Dybbuk

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 43

The Dybbuk of Jewish mythology is a vicious spirit believed to be either a demon or the unrighteous soul of a deceased person who can possess the living. Derived from the Hebrew word meaning “to cling” or “clinging spirit”, the word Dybbuk first appeared in the 16th century, having been referred to as “ruchim” in prior writings.

Numerous stories exist which highlight the various aspects of the Dybbuk. The most common characteristic of a Dybbuk’s is that it is either a person with unfinished business or a wicked sinner seeking reprieve from the punishments being meted out in the afterlife. Unsettled spirits must find and possess a living thing, with people being the choice of preference. The people most susceptible to Dybbuk possession are those living in homes with a neglected mezuzot (a parchment inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah and attached in a case to the front doorpost or door of a building).

Those who succumb to Dybbuk possession fall to the floor in convulsions or suffer from uncontrollable weeping. The possessed might refuse to participate with the congregation or interact with the community. He or she might speak in a frightening voice about secrets within the household or community.

Ridding yourself of a Dybbuk requires exorcism by a pious man or rabbi in a synagogue in front of a minyan (ten Jewish adult males) to drive the spirit away from the possessed person and cease the Dybbuk’s wandering the earth. They start by interviewing the Dybbuk to learn why the spirit has lingered. Without learning the Dybbuk’s true name, it cannot be commanded to leave; though, in stubborn cases, the Dybbuk may refuse to leave until the possessed is exposed to Torah scrolls or had the demon beaten out of possessed. The Dybbuk’s leaving the possessed person is sometimes accompanied by the shattering of glass.

While reports of Dybbuk possession have largely been on the decline since the early 1900s, cases continue to be reported around the word. In 1999, an Israeli widow claimed the Dybbuk of her late husband has possessed her. In 2010 a Brazilian man claimed to be possessed by a Dybbuk and was provided with an exorcism – via Skype. He later posted the footage of his experience online.

In 2013, a young woman in the United States reported she and various members of her family had been possessed in turn by a Dybbuk for decades. The family reported rooms filled with moths, black shadow figures and a spectral child which would follow members of the family throughout the day. They moved house, initially believing the issues to be with the residence rather than being the result of a Dybbuk; however, regardless of the number of times they moved, the demon remained attached. In their new location, the young woman claimed to be plagued by nightmares, the hearing of disembodied screams throughout the night and suffering attacks by unseen entities.

Contact was lost with the young woman in 2014 after the family moved house – for the 20th time.


Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 41

Doppelgänger, meaning “double-goer” in German was popularized in Gothic fiction as an evil alter ego, or a harbinger of death and bad luck; however, this entity has been reported around the world for centuries. In Ancient Egypt, this type of haunting was known was a ka; the Norse referred to it as a vardøger; the Finnish as an etiäinen; the Bretons, Cornish and Norman-French all referred to it as an Ankou.

John Donne encountered the doppelgänger of his wife in Paris the night before she gave birth to their stillborn daughter--on the Isle of Wight.

A Mrs. Jane Williams saw Percy Bysshe Shelley’s doppelgänger walking across her terrace on 15 June 1822, though he was not staying at her house. Shelley told his wife, the authoress Mary Shelley, of seeing this own doppelgänger on June 23 after a nightmare in which he witnessed the house collapse during a flood – he would drown on July 8, 1822, in the Bay of Spezia.

Then there is the mysterious case of Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon as he walked through his drawing room in Eaton Square on 22 June 1893. He did so without speaking to anyone during his wife’s party. However, Vice-Admiral Tyron was on the HMS Victoria off the cost of Syria at the time. It was later determined that Mrs. Tyron and her guests had witnessed her husband’s doppelgänger as his ship ran into the HMS Camperdown – a navel disaster which occurred after the Vice-Admiral gave orders directing the HMS Victoria to turn into the path of the HMS Camperdown. Vice-Admiral Tryon drowned when the HMS Victoria capsized and sank.

In June, 2008, a family in New England (USA) had just returned home from the shops around 10:30 AM. Their two youngest children wished to remain outdoors to play a game of hide-and-seek. The twelve year old boy was instructed not to leave the garden, and to return inside by 1:00 PM with his seven year old sister. The seven year old girl hid first. The boy looked for his sister and found her three times, each time she was wearing different clothing; however, each time she also failed to respond to her name and disappeared before he could touch her. Terrified and desperate, he ran into the house to alert his parents, only to find them watching television with his sister. The seven year old had bored of the game after a few minutes and had gone back inside the house two hours prior to the boy’s panicked return.

In March, 2011, laboratory techs were working on test when a third, well-known co-worker brushed past them without speaking, walked into a storage closet at the far end of the room, and did not come out. As this was a closed laboratory and no one else was scheduled to be in, the workers were concerned. They opened the storage closet and found no one there. Befuddled, they contacted their co-worker who had been working at an off-site facility all day – in front of several hundred witnesses.

Dragsholm Castle

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 40

In 1536, King Christian III of Denmark decreed his kingdom a Lutheran state, renouncing Catholicism and forcing the imprisonment of the Catholic Bishop of Roskilde, Joachim Ronnow. Cells were built in the castle’s tower to house the ecclesiastical prisoner; where today, people report hearing chants and moans.

Joachim Ronnow is just one of more than 100 ghosts believed to be haunting Dragsholm Castle in Hørve, Sealand, Denmark.

Ronnow is in good company. The Fourth Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn (who was also the third husband to Mary, Queens of Scots) died in the dungeon below the Drasgholm. After being captured in Norway, Hepburn was brought to Dragsholm, tied to a post in the dungeon and given just enough food and drink to allow him to continue to live. Driven mad by the inability to move and the conditions within the cells, Hepburn died five years later. Visitors to the castle continue to report the sound of hooves on the cobbled stones of the courtyard, as well as seeing Hepburn’s horse and carriage ride through the courtyard.

Then there is Ejler Brockenhuus, usually referred to as the “Mad Squire”, who was a Danish nobleman imprisoned within the castle. Like Hepburn, his confinement in the dank and filthy dungeon drove him mad. Many people have reported hearing his moans and groans floating from where he was imprisoned in the dungeon up to the main floor of the castle.

There are also women haunting Dragsholm. The White Lady, believed to be the ghost of Celestine Marianne de Bayonne Gyldenstierne (a Danish family of nobles). Though matches between commoners and nobles were forbidden, Celina fell in love with a young man working in the stables at the castle and became pregnant.

Her father killed the young man and, when the pregnancy was discovered, he had Celestine bricked into a wall in the dungeon, and then left her there to die. Since her death, her ghostly figure has been seen wandering Dragsholm’s hallways and her anguished cries heard throughout the building -- a story lent credence when a group of plumbers working in the castle in the 1910 discovered a female skeleton wearing a white dress bricked into one of the dungeon walls. Today an artificial skeleton wearing that same white dress can be viewed through a glass pane set into the wall where Celestine was found.

In contrast to The White Lady is The Gray Lady, a young woman who was working at Dragsholm Castle when she developed a debilitating toothache. The castle’s master gave the young woman a poultice which cured the ache…but she died from other causes shortly thereafter. However, to show gratitude to the castle’s master, The Gray Lady continues to return to the castle to check on the current visitors and confirm all is well.

Dragsholm Castle is not only one of the most haunted locations in the Denmark, it is also a working luxury hotel and restaurant which caters to tourists from all over the world with five star service from beyond the grave.

The Funayurie of Japan

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 30

Funayurie, or “boat spirits” are common in ancient Japanese folklore and continue to be reported to this day.

Believed to be the vengeful spirits of those who have died at sea, the funayurie, sometimes called “ayakaski”, “mojabune”, or “boko”, take many different forms. They have been described as a figure with a large, round head; the ghosts of shipwreck victims; and as ghost ships. But they all want one thing: to take humans with them to their watery graves.

Funayurie may appear in any numbers of ways, though most commonly seen on nights with a full moon, thick fog or heavy rain. Some hover above the surface of the water, yet others appear shipboard amongst human passengers. Those which appear among the passengers and crew will ask for a water ladle to use in a Japanese tea ceremony. If this request is granted, the fuanyurie will turn the ladle upside down and water will pour ceaselessly from it, swamping the ship. When witnessed as a phantom ship or ghost ship, they are phosphorescent and bright enough each detail of the ship can be identified. They are not limited to appearances at sea and have been reported as having been seen near lakes, marshes, rivers and other inland wetlands.

Funayurie are devious and use many different methods to lure their victims. On a foggy evening, a ghost ship would lead sailors into the side of a cliff or strand them on a reef. A shipboard funayurie may cause the ship’s compass to fail, leading the ship wildly off course; in correcting the course to the failed compass, the ship would run aground or sink in stormy waters. During bad weather, bonfires would be lit so sailors could see the shoreline. Funayurie can light fires on the water, confusing sailors and leading them to sail toward open sea, never to be seen again.

Great pains were taken in avoiding funayurie. For protection from this vengeful spirit, sailors would throw offerings of rice balls wrapped in seaweed, sticks of incense, flowers, ashes, rice cakes, charred firewood, reed mats and summer beans. Some would light a match and throw it into the water as a ward against the spirits. There are also references to ships keeping a bottomless bamboo water ladle for a tea ceremony on board – just in case they encountered a funayurie.

As there are many forms of funayurie, there are many different methods for ridding your ship of one. For a ghost ship at sea, a truly brave captain could push on, ploughing through the ghost ship, which would disappear on contact with the mortal ship. For the slightly more passive-aggressive captain, the ship could be stopped. Once stopped, the crew would then stare at the funayurie, moving forward again only after it had disappeared. Those with small boats would stir the water with a stick to try to make the funayurie disappear.

After the tragic sinking the Toya Maru in 1954, in which 1,153 people drowned after the ferry sank during a typhoon, many of the boats sent to the sight returned to port with long, jagged scars along their propellers. It was been said these scars were caused by the many victims of the Toya Maru becoming funayurie who were following the ferries, trying to claw their way aboard. At Aomori Station, crew members sleeping overnight in the duty room were awaked by someone hammering on the glass window to the room. Through the window, they could see what appeared to be a soaked through woman standing on the other side of the glass. She was no woman though, but a determined funayurie who found her way ashore from the wreck of the Toya Maru.

No one opened the window.

The Jiang Shi of China

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 29

The terrifying Jiang Shi are a zombie-vampire hybrid who’s still stiff corpse rises from the dead to feed off of the qi (life-force or energy) or blood of the living. With its green skin, Qing Dynasty robes and bizarre ability to “hop” with its arms outstretched, the Jiang Shi must spend the daylight hours in hiding from humans in either a coffin or cave. However, at night, the Jiang Shi leaves its nest to prey upon the unsuspecting.

A Jiang Shi may rise as a result of any combination of factors, including: Not being buried after the funeral; a black cat leaping across the coffin; possession of the corpse by another spirit or daemon; using magic to raise the dead; being a resentful and/or unattended corpse; or, absorbing enough qi to return to life. Murder, suicide and just taking enjoyment in being an immortal pain to your family can also result in being risen Jiang Shi.

The easiest way to avoid becoming a victim of a Jiang Shi is to hold your breath. As it is believed the essence of qi is related to breath and breathing, the Jiang Shi can detect its next victim by following its breath. By holding your breath, you would become invisible to the Jiang Shi.

As there are so many variations on the possible creation of this creature, the Jiang Shi removal kit would need to include all of the following: a mirror, as the Jiang Shi find their own reflection frightening; objects carved from the wood of a peach tree, which are believed by many Chinese to deter evil spirits; a rooster call (even the Jiang Shi find that 5 AM wake-up call annoying); seven jujube seeds and a hammer to nail the seeds into the seven acupuncture points in the Jiang Shi’s back; a match or some means of setting the Jiang Shi on fire; a handbell; black thread; a copy of the I Ching; a bottle of vinegar; a black donkey’s hooves; azuki beans; a stonemason’s awl; an axe; and a broom. Mindful homeowners can also install a 15 centimetre high beam of wood across the bottom of the entry doorway to bar a Jiang Shi’s entry.

The folklore of the Jiang Shi is believed to have arisen from practice known as “ganshi” or “driving corpses”. As people moved from their hometowns to neighbouring districts in the search for work, the practice arose of returning the deceased to his or her home village for burial to prevent the soul being homesick. If a vehicle was unavailable, a Taoist priest could be hired to carry the corpse back home. The deceased would be tied upright to two bamboo rods. Two men, each one carrying the end of one rod on his shoulder, would walk through the night with the body between them. As they walked, the bamboo would flex, giving the corpse the appearance of hopping from place to place. The Taoist priest would walk in front of the men, ringing a handbell as a warning to fellow travellers and villagers, so they could avert their gazes or hide to avoid the bad luck which would befall them if they set eyes on the Jiang Shi.

Kinoly of Madagascar

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 28

The Malagasy believe most ancestor spirits are protective, if you treat them well, but an ignored or untended family member can become one of the ghoulish and violent Kinoly. These creepy, red-eyed, dagger-clawed spectres haunt their own gravesites, visiting disease, misfortune and the occasional disembowelling upon the living. As the legend tells it, the Kinoly have been forsaken by God, leaving their eyes red. Their claws are used to tear out the liver of a person who has angered them. Visitors to the grave who engage in loud conversation or laughter are particularly prone to angering the Kinoly.

There have been many reports regarding the ghosts of Madagascar, including a story in which an English missionary witnessed an attack on a sailor staying in a neighbouring residence. During the night, the sailor’s shouts were such he woke the neighbouring households, including the missionary’s. All the neighbours ran to the man’s house where they found him sitting up in bed. The sailor shook as he told the gather crowd that in the moments before he fell asleep he had been attacked by a ghost. The spectre grabbed the sailor by the throat to prevent him shouting for help. The attack had lasted for some time, during which the sailor insisted he remained awake. In response to the sailor’s adamant entreaties that his house was haunted by a Kinoly, the missionary took the sailor into his own home.

To prevent an unwanted ancestor’s rising from the grave as a Kinoly, the Malagasy rewrap the deceased in fresh, handmade cloth every five to ten years (which is referred to as famadihana). Many also avoid visiting graves at night or building homes close to graveyards to not anger any Kinoly which may be present.

If traveling with a companion through the forest at night and the two of you become separated, do not call out each other’s names as you may attract the attention of the Kinoly. Other night time activities which should be avoided for your own protection are whistling, carrying mutton, sleeping in a room without a light, and answering to your name if called by a ghost…unless you want to be drawn to your death.

Gjenganger: The Scandinavian Undead

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 15

Risen from the dead, the Gjenganger in Scandinavian folklore was a completely corporeal being. From the murdered to suicides, becoming gjenganger after death was a fate open to anyone who still had some unfinished tormenting of family and friends to be getting on with.

Traditionally violent and malicious, the gjenganger were so feared extreme precautions were taken to ensure relatives stayed in the ground. These included abandoning any vehicle, such as a sleigh or wagon, after it was used to carry a coffin to a church; lifting and carrying the coffin over the church wall; having the pallbearers carry the coffin around the outside of the church three times prior to burying it in the churchyard; and, after the introduction of Christianity, using crucifixes and painted crosses to keep evil or supernatural spirits at bay.

Dating back to the age of the Vikings, the first written reference to preventing a relative from returning as a gjenganger was found on the inside of a 6th century coffin. The simple lamentation was carved by a brother to let his sister know he had carved runes to be spared (from her gjenganger).

Another means of keeping the gjenganger from rising from the grave was a varp. This was a stack of twigs and stones which was used to mark the location of someone’s death. As a person passed a varp, they would throw another twig or stone onto the pile to avoid accidents and bad luck.

While the gjenganger was still a violent entity, its form has evolved over time from a perpetrator of violence to a bringer of plague or disease. By using the dødningeknip (loosely translated as “dead man’s pinch”), the gjenganger would emerge at night as the intended victim slept and pinch the victim’s skin. The damaged skin would first bruise, then decay or sink, eventually leading to the victim’s death. (This bit of folklore is believed to have developed to discourage people from sleeping in forbidden or unacceptable places, such as graveyards.)

When spiritualism was introduced in Scandinavia in the early 1900s, the folklore of the gjenganger again evolved. The gjenganger has since become an ethereal, non-violent being of spirit. As the tales regarding the gjenganger changed, the word “gjenganger” has since fallen out of favour to be replaced with the more modern “spøkelse” or ghost.

Of note, in Swedish folklore, the traditional gjenganger is distinct from a ghost or gast. While the gjenganger looked human and was non-violent, the gast was ethereal or skeletal with lethal claws and teeth and capable of causing disease. The gast was also the practical joker of the spirit world, haunting and scaring its victims for no particular reason.

Chindi: Ghosts of the Navajo

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 9

In Navajo culture the Chindi is the spirit of the deceased which remains in this world after death. Formed by last breath to exit the body, the chindi is the dregs of the deceased’s spirit -- the parts of his or her nature which could not be brought into balance with the world.

Allowing death to occur in outside in the open air, as is traditional Navajo practice, can give the chindi space to disperse without causing harm. However, even those deaths which take place outside can occasionally form chiindii, or sandspouts. These sandspouts are the result of evil spirits. These spirits are believed to be able to bring on heart problems or even carry a person away from home and are to be avoided.

Deaths which occur indoors are believed to trap the chindi. The trapped chindi haunts the surrounding the objects. A chindi may infect the structure and the deceased’s possessions. These haunted structures are abandoned, the possessions either abandoned with the structure or destroyed, and contact with the body of the deceased is avoided. Special care is taken to honor the burial customs to avoid incurring the wrath of a chindi which may be lingering around the body.

The deceased’s name will no longer be spoken, only to be referred to in general terms such as “father”, “mother”, “sister”, or “brother” to avoid ghost sickness which can be bought about through contact with a chindi called to the victim of ghost sickness by use of the deceased’s name, contact with the any of the infected possessions or by use of the building where the deceased died. Those unfortunates which have not heeded tradition and find themselves consumed by ghost sickness are said to suffer from hallucinations, nightmares, depression, and paranoia – said to be caused by the chindi’s drawing the suffer to join the deceased in death.

To rid sufferers of ghost sickness, Navajo perform a three day ceremony known as the Enemy Way to counter the effects of the chindi and to liberate the victim of ghost sickness.

Those Navajo who follow the Witchery Way, or the Corpse-poison Way, are believed capable of infecting their fellow Navajo with ghost sickness, and may do this to those who have wronged them in some way. Most practitioners of the Witchery Way learn their craft from a relative and, in Navajo tradition, are usually male. They can induce ghost sickness by feeding a person a piece of corpse or powdered corpse bone, preferably made from fingerprints or the parietal, occipital or temporal bones of the skull.

For those cursed with ghost sickness by a follower of the Witchery Way, the effects of the corpse-poison are immediate. The physical reactions can include the tongue swelling, tetanus, and fainting. A victim may also develop a wasting disease, his or her health fading as he/she slowly dies. As the witch has brought the curse upon the victim, no medicine, dance or ritual (including the Enemy Way) is effective in recovering the victim’s health.

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