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

Besides a few homes and smoldering cemeteries, not much is left of the small Pennsylvania coal-mining town that’s been burning since 1962.
Abandoned highway in Centralia, PA
The abandoned Pennsylvania Route 61 highway buckled and smokes due to the fire burning beneath.

When the fire began in 1962, the town of Centralia had a population of around 1,400. Today, there are only 10, and the town continues to vanish. The U.S. Postal Service discontinued its zip code in 2002. When someone dies, their home is condemned and torn down. The only new residents are those who return in coffins to be interred in the burning earth beside their families in Centralia’s smoking graveyards.

The strange story of the town’s slow, smoldering demise began nearly 60 years ago. In preparation for Memorial Day celebrations, the town council decided to burn the contents of an old strip mine from the 1930s that was being used as a landfill. On May 27, 1962, firefighters lit the first flames, which moved into other abandoned mines and ignited coal seams beneath the town that have been burning ever since.

Concerns of the rising temperatures beneath the ground, as well as toxic fumes, steadily grew, but it wasn’t until a 12-year-old boy fell into a sinkhole in his yard in 1984 that the government got involved. The majority of the population abandoned Centralia to nearby areas through a voluntary relocation program in the 1980s. In 1992, the governor of Pennsylvania invoked eminent domain on all property and condemned the buildings. Formal eviction began in 2009. In 2013, the few remaining residents won the right to live out the rest of their lives in their homes.

But when they’re gone, Centralia will cease to exist.

The fire may continue to burn for another 250 years.

Silent Hill: The last remaining church in Centralia

The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary church, built in 1912, still overlooks Centralia from the hilltop. It is just outside of the “impact zone” and has been allowed to remain. It is the last of seven churches that once stood in the area.

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

As stipulated in her will, millionaire heiress Sandra West was buried in lingerie in the driver’s seat of her powder blue 1964 Ferrari.
Sandra West being buried in her Ferrari

Thanks to Messy Nessy Chic for digging this out of the dark corners of the internet today:

Sandra West, heiress to her dead husband Ike West’s Texas oil fortune, died from an overdose of prescription drugs on March 10, 1977 in her Beverly Hills home. West, who was described by her physician as “a psychotic with a tendency toward paranoia and hallucination,” had requested in her will that she be dressed in her lace nightgown and buried in one of her three Ferraris “with the seat slanted comfortably.”

Because you wouldn’t want your corpse to spend eternity in an awkward, upright position.

West’s body and her beloved Ferrari were sent back to Texas, where a huge grave was dug beside her husband in San Antonio’s Alamo Masonic Cemetery. The car was placed inside a large wooden crate, lowered into the ground by a crane, and then covered in concrete.

Sandra West and her Ferrari

Article here: Socialite Sandra West was buried in her Ferrari in San Antonio