Spectralites: New Web Series Explores the Roots of Spiritualism

New occult web series from photographer Rik Garrett explores the beginnings of spiritualism with the story of the Fox Sisters.

Photographer Rik Garrett is exploring the “historical exchange between art, science and the occult” in his new web series Spectralites. Episode zero begins fittingly with the story of the Fox Sisters, Leah and Margaret, whose supposed ability to communicate with the dead kicked off the spiritualism movement in the 1800s.

See Garrett’s bewitching photography at www.rikgarrett.com

via Haute Macabre

The house where the Fox sisters lived and spiritualism began

Centralia

Centralia’s Underground Mine Fire Has Been Burning for Almost 60 Years

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Mysterious Aztec Skull Masks Were Made From Slain Warriors

New research suggests 15th century Aztec masks found at the Templo Mayor in Mexico were made from the skulls of slain warriors and elite members of society.
Aztec skull mask found at Templo Mayer in Tenochtitlan, Mexico

Like all great archaeological finds (and Cult of Weird parties), the discovery of Templo Mayor began in 1978 with a decapitated and dismembered body. A carving, that is. A monolith depicting the Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, who was beheaded by her brother Huitzilopochtli and thrown down a mountain. Huitzilopochtli was the Mesoamerican deity of war, sun, and human sacrifice. The monolith was part of a large temple dedicated to him at the heart of the 15th-century Aztec capital city Tenochtitlan, the area that is Mexico City today.

Inside the excavated ruins of the once massive Templo Mayor, where an estimated 20,000 human sacrifices had been conducted, archaeologists discovered 8 masks made from human skulls. The back of the craniums had been removed so they could be worn, with shells and stones placed in the eye sockets, and knives used for noses or tongues.

The purpose and origin of these relics was a mystery, but in a new article for Forbes, Kristina Killgrove writes that new research has shed some light on the macabre Aztec skull masks.

templo-mayor
A model of the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan, with Templo Mayor at the back. Museum of Anthrology, Mexico City.

The study reveals that the skulls belonged to males with good diets, in good health, and likely came from a variety of different areas around the Aztec Empire. They were probably defeated warriors and nobility brought to Tenochtitlan to be sacrificed.

Conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo wrote of leathery skin masks made from the flayed faces of sacrificed enemies, but using the skull seems to have been rare, leading to the conclusion by researchers that it was reserved for only the most elite.

Aztec skull mask from the Templo Mayor
Aztec skull masks on display at the Templo Mayor Museum

Read more here: Mystery Of Morbid Aztec Skull Masks Solved By Archaeologists

Victorian coffin with body of a young girl inside found beneath San Francisco home

Coffin of Young Girl Found Beneath San Francisco Home

A coffin containing the body of a young girl who died 145 years ago was found beneath a San Francisco home where the Odd Fellows cemetery used to be.

The SFGate reports that on May 9, while renovating the garage of a San Francisco home, workers made a strange discovery beneath the concrete. In just about any other city, finding a coffin might have been startling. In San Francisco, the city that evicted it’s dead in the early 1900s to free up valuable real estate, finding bodies forgotten during the relocation probably isn’t all that uncommon.

The coffin, made of lead and bronze, contains the well-preserved but unidentified remains of a young girl estimated to be three years old. The house sits upon land once occupied by the Odd Fellows Cemetery, whose 30,000 inhabitants were moved to the nearby town of Colma in the 1920s and 30s. The cemetery was active between 1830 and 1860, placing the girl’s death at about 145 years ago.

The small coffin has two built-in windows, through which the girl’s long golden curls are still visible. She was buried in a white dress, and is holding a rose in her hand. Lavender flowers are weaved into her hair, and also into a cross placed over her heart. Eucalyptus leaves are placed by her side.

The remains of the girl are seen through windows in her coffin.

Coffin left behind when the Odd Fellows Cemetery was moved from San Francisco to Colma.

The city denied any responsibility, leaving the homeowners to deal with the remains, with quotes of $7,000-$22,000 for reburial. While many of us oddities enthusiasts no doubt think this would make a great centerpiece in our collections of artifacts from the country’s early fraternal societies, the homeowners aren’t nearly as demented. They wanted to do the right thing, but couldn’t afford the bill. They reached out to the Odd Fellows, who have agreed to provide funding for the girl to be reburied in Colma.

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Historical photo of the Odd Fellows Cemetery in San Francisco
San Francisco’s Odd Fellows Cemetery c.1900. The Columbarium (foreground) still stands today.

Workers exhuming graves in the Odd Fellows Cemetery
Workers exhuming graves in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, 1933.

Inhabitants of the original cemetery were interred in the private Greenlawn Memorial Park. According to their website, their office still has the interment records dating back to 1865, so hopefully the girl’s identity can be discovered.

Update: Unidentified girl dubbed ‘Miranda Eve’ gets proper reburial

Sandra West Was Buried In a Lace Nightgown Inside Her 1964 Ferrari

The Beverly Hills socialite insisted on being buried in the driver’s seat of her Ferrari wearing her favorite lace nightgown.