LA atypical attractions

Last year when I visited LA, I knew I had to take a gander at their paranormal scene. In doing so, I spent time in the Museum of Death in Hollywood and I explored the Cecil Hotel in Downtown LA. Both were pretty neat to visit.

The Museum of Death in Hollywood was worth whatever I paid to enter. Exhibits included photographs, belongings, even body parts. It was surreal to see evidentiary support for creepy and horrible crimes. Photos were not allowed inside, but there are quite a few images that are burned into my memory. Photos from the Black Dahlia murder, various taxidermied creatures, as well as various photos of serial killers and their victims. It’s a tough museum to get through especially if you have a weak stomach, but there is a lot to see inside. 10/10 would recommend.

The other notable location I visited was the Cecil Hotel. If you’re familiar with American Horror Story, the season, Hotel, is roughly based on the Cecil Hotel. It is supposedly the last place Elizabeth Short (Black Dahlia) was seen alive. Richard Ramirez “The Night Stalker” killed 13 women while staying there. Elisa Lam a young college student was found dead in the water tank atop the hotel. There is footage of her acting extremely unorthodox in an elevator. Nothing noteworthy happened in the hotel, but it did give me the heebie jeebies. The hotel has since lost it’s high quality feel, and is not called “Stay On Main.” It’s a neat place to visit but I would not recommend booking a room.

The Pythian Castle

I have not visited as many “haunted locations” as I wish I could, but there is one specific location that I have been fortunate enough to visit more than once. I find urban legends fascinating so I tend to ruminate over the local legends that haunt the geography. This was definitely the case when I moved to Springfield, MO for college.

Among some of the urban legends of Springfield, there lies the Pythian Castle. It is a stone castle right smack dab in the middle of a midwest suburban town. Here is the castle’s website. I visited the castle once in 2010, and again in 2011. The first time i visited, I managed to hop along a history tour. This was the best option for me because I really like to know the history of a place before I make any opinions on its spectral vibes. The second visit, I was able to swing a ghost tour, along with a led EVP session.

Aside from a plethora of orbs flooding the photos I took, there was only one instance in which I experienced any type of “physical” phenomena, which was a gentle touch to my elbow. (many explanations, not enough time) Nothing happened during the EVP sessions. There was however, and long tunnel underground in which they used for the transport of goods (and bodies). This area was especially spooky. The tunnel itself was maybe 3 feet wide and seemed to go on for infinity. That was the most alarming part. We walked and walked and it seemed like we never reached the end of the tunnel. Our tour guide claimed that it is extremely active, and guests of the castle have experienced some pant-shitting spooks. I didn’t pay much attention in the tunnel as I was getting a wee claustrophobic, and I was focusing on how many more steps I had to take before I could get out.

The entire castle itself has quite a creepy vibe, as one would expect from an old multi-purpose castle that dates back over a century. Although nothing quite “compelling” enough happened for me to cry ghost, I would definitely go back for another visit. It is very well kept, the history is fascinating, and it has its fair share of spooky stories.

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Pythian Castle (front) 2010
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Sleeping area when the castle was an orphanage. Apparently that child’s ball can be found in different areas of the castle *mysteriously*
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Inside the underground tunnel 2011
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The area my elbow was touched! 2011
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2011

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep has always frightened me. You get yourself “ready” for bed. You put on a specific outfit, say your goodnights as if you’ll never see people again, and then position your body onto a large slab of cushion and close your eyes for 8 hours or more. Even at the ripe age of 8, I realized how creepy that all sounded. I had suffered from sleep terrors as a youngster, and the idea of allowing yourself to reach such a vulnerable state of mind didn’t sit well me, and it still doesn’t.

My first bout of sleep paralysis that I actually remember was at 22. I was living in an old brick apartment alone, and my place already exhibited some creepy tendencies. I had awoken abruptly, as though someone had slapped me across the face. Right away I knew I wasn’t alone, there was something laying next to my bed. But no matter how hard I tried to lift my head, or my body, I was paralyzed. I could feel something crawling up the side of my bed, and slithering across my covers. I could FEEL the sheets shift as though something was making its way slowly towards me. After what felt like 15-20 minutes, I shot up and threw my covers across the room. Nothing. Nothing was there, but I was soaking wet with sweat.
I continued to have a few more similar experiences while living in this specific apartment.

Now I understand, for the most part, how Sleep Paralysis works. Nothing paranormal about it, just your brain being weird. However, I do find it strange that my strongest and strangest experiences with sleep paralysis occurred at that specific apartment. So this makes me think of 2 possibilities. 1) my apartment was haunted as shit and something was definitely messing with me or 2) my environment played a huge part in my psyche and sleep patterns.

nightmare

Although sleep paralysis can be explained from a scientific standpoint, I think it does have somewhat of a paranormal backbone. The fact that we have horrifying images and thoughts buried deep into our subconscious that only come out while we lay flat on our backs in a dark room suggests the dark nature of human beings begs to be released. I tend to believe human beings are innately good. But who are we after we cross the REM threshold?

The Witching Hour

The first hunt for witches began in 1022 AD. The word “Witch” derives from ‘Wicca’ or ‘Wicce’, which are believed to be derivatives of the term “Wise One.” Most people know that witchcraft has been around for ages. Even before the first crusade against witches, back in 1022 AD. The exact commencement of witchcraft can be disputed, but that’s not the topic. The practice of witchcraft and sorcery varies culture by culture. However, more often than not, the life of a “witch” was not typically glamorous. A well-known example of the persecution of “witches” would be the infamous Salem Witch Trials. In the 1690’s of Colonial Massachusetts, over 20 individuals were killed as a result of the “witch hunt” that swept the town. It wasn’t the cool thing to do at that time to say the least. If you want to get a little deeper into witch hunts, look to European crusades. Tens of thousands of “witches” were killed throughout much of Europe in the late 15th century and on through the 17th century.

For more info on Salem, click here

For more info on European hunts, click here

Although, witchcraft has carried such a negative connotation for so long, it appears as though its making quite a comeback. It’s become a sort of trend. When did witchcraft become a trend? At what point did the idea of being a witch become appealing? I myself have always been somewhat a spooky girl, and I have been known to tote my own “witchy woman” t -shirts now and again. Hundreds of years ago, I would have been executed for donning such attire.

By monopolizing on this witchy idea, does it take away from the spirituality involved in modern day witchcraft? Are we tarnishing the sacred practices of shamans, medicine men, and witch doctors?  Can this phenomena be likened to that of All Hallow’s Eve, where we have taken traditional folklore, and morphed it into a reason to party and dress like a sexy slice of pizza? It just doesn’t seem right to swirl serious moments of history into something so irreverent and cheeky.

Witches Water Skiing

I am a hypocrite, as I partake in these “cool” activities but I also am saddened by the tainted folklore that carries over as each year passes. In a perfect world, everyone would understand the sacred history and precious lore that hides underneath the ground we walk on.

I guess the end point I would like to make is that if you’re going to jump on the bandwagon, respect and understand the lore that carried it throughout history.

La Llorona

I have always been familiar with La Llorona. I vaguely recall my Abuelita telling me a spooky story about the woman who wails for her children, and that no child was safe from her deathly search unless they were well behaved and stayed inside after dark. If you are unfamiliar with the story of La Llorona, check this Here.

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Photo retrieved from http://huaracheturbo.com/event_lallorona_run

Years later, I found myself studying abroad in the quaint village of San Pedro, La Laguna, Guatemala. I was living with a host family, and it just so happened that their oldest daughter was working on an assignment for school on myths and legends. I asked her about it, and sure enough, La Llorona was one of the myths she was writing about. I remember her saying that it was a silly assignment. But when I asked her if she believed in the story of the wailing woman, she shook her head, and smiled, telling me she doesn’t really like to think too much about it. She eventually admitted that it did scare her, but that she doesn’t really believe in such things.

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Stormy Clouds over San Pedro, La Laguna, Guatemala, 2012

Isn’t it fascinating that I grew up knowing of the same urban legend from my mexican grandmother, as this young girl who has spend her whole life in Guatemala? Mind you, the countries are not far apart, but they are still two separate cultures, with completely different societal development. How did that legend spread so smoothly across Central America and over so many years?

I don’t blame her for being shy on the subject, but I find it interesting how so many people don’t want to openly admit their belief in something strange, or supernatural. But in today’s world, look how lucrative horror films are. Look how much money we throw at run down buildings during halloween to get a real “haunted house” experience. If so many people did not believe in such ideologies, why would they get so frightened? How can you be scared of something that you don’t believe in? Maybe it’s just still taboo to speak of things that are unexplainable. Could it be that we are still fearful of being persecuted for a belief system unlike our neighbors?

Not just for Anthropologists

For those of you who might not know what an anthropologist is or the study of anthropology, you should click here What is Anthropology?. First and foremost, I am an Anthropologist, amongst other things. In this blog however, I wish to bring attention to some interesting aspects behind the science. In the words of Nancy Banks Smith,

“Anthropology is the science which tells us that people are the same the whole world over – except when they are different.” 

What fascinates me about human nature is that it defies many ideologies. How is it that we can be spread to the ends of the earth but still have similar innate fears? Superstitions? In virtually every culture you will find some sort of paranormal entity or a belief in an otherworldly force. Even subjects regarding the zodiac, have dated back to ancient folklore. This blog is meant to unveil some of the paranormal glue that holds us all together as one. This blog is enacted to share knowledge, literature, art, facts, and all things spooky. Mainly, this is for pure entertainment for all of those who are also paranormal fanatics. If you have any interest in folklore, urban legends, or superstitions, look no further! You’ve come to the right place.