Salem Witch Trials

Weekend Weird: Billy Corgan Sees a Shapeshifter, Bigfoot’s Anniversary, Appalachian Burial Customs, and More

This week’s weird news and media includes a look at the Salem during Halloween, the latest on consciousness after death, and a contortionist with a strange illness.
Salem witch hangings

For the last two years I’ve held a contest during the month of October to win boxes full of cool and creepy things. In order to win a coveted Box of Weird, as I have so uninspiringly dubbed them, I asked the highly talented Cult of Weird community to answer morbid trivia questions through some sort of visual means on Instagram. The top 4 were then put to vote.

I wasn’t able to do it again this year due to time and money constraints, (wanna join the Inner Circle?) but last year’s entries were so creepy and creative, they’re worth revisiting.

Click the question to see the winners and other top entries:

And now this week’s other weird news and media:
Weird news

Happy anniversary Patty! Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin filmed Bigfoot 50 years ago today

Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins saw a shape-shifter once

Good news: You will probably be aware that you are dead

This death-positive game about life as a mortician is out now

The new book by Under the Knife creator Lindsey Fitzharris is out now

Ephemera tells the tragic story of the Argonaut mine disaster

It’s now legal to liquefy a dead body in California

Platinum and gold produced by neutron star collisions

Watch this documentary about the Dead Man’s Carnival

Man nearly dies after live fish jumps down his throat

I wrote this post about a few of Wisconsin’s creepy cemetery legends

The Cardiff Giant was discovered 148 years ago

Sitting up with the dead: Lost Appalachian burial customs

Chronic illness makes woman amazing contortionist

Cannabis, the Holy Grail, and the secrets of the Templars

Lore series breathes life into disturbing true stories behind modern folklore

Hurricane Ophelia unearthed ancient skeletal remains in Ireland

In 1927 a spirit attacked a medium and a group of ghost-hunters

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Giles Corey at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial

I handed the Cult of Weird Instagram over to my sister last weekend as she explored the Halloween festivities and Witch City history in Salem, Massachusetts over the Friday the 13th weekend. This photo is from the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, where the 20 individuals who were executed for witchcraft in 1692 are remembered. The memorial is shaded by black locust trees, the type of trees it is believed the victims were hanged from.

Pictured here is the granite memorial for Giles Corey, an 81-year-old man who was accused of witchcraft after defending his wife Martha against similar accusations. According to a girl named Mercy Lewis, the apparition of Corey had been tormenting her. “I veryly believe in my heart that Giles Cory is a dreadfull wizzard,” she stated in her deposition, “for sence he had ben in prison he or his apperance has com and most greviously tormented me.”

In court, Corey refused to plead guilty or innocent to the charges. “Standing mute,” as it was called, was punishable by pressing. Charged with extracting a plea, Sheriff George Corwin lead Corey to a pit beside the jail, where he was stripped naked and made to lie down. A board was placed on top of him, and six men slowly piled large stones onto the board over the next three days. Each time he was asked to plead, Corey simply replied, “More weight.”

A witness by the name of Robert Calef later said, “In the pressing, Giles Corey’s tongue was pressed out of his mouth; the Sheriff, with his cane, forced it in again.”

Just before the weight of the rocks finally crushed the last breath of life out of him, Corey was said to have cried out to Corwin, “Damn you. I curse you and Salem!”

Martha was hanged three days later during the final round of executions on September 22, 1962.

More photos from Friday the 13th in Salem right here.

Weird Book of the Week

The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost
The story of how spirit photographer William Mumler captured America’s imagination in the wake of the death and tragedy of the Civil War by photographing grieving family members with apparitions of the dearly departed.

For more macabre reads check out the 2017 Cult of Weird Fall Reading List.

Patterson Gimlin Bigfoot film

Patterson & Gimlin Filmed Bigfoot 50 Years Ago Today

It’s been 50 years since the controversial footage of a large female Bigfoot was filmed by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in Northern California.
Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film stabilized
Stabilized Patterson-Gimlin film footage

The famous Patterson-Gimlin film, which seems to depict a female sasquatch roaming the woods of Northern California, was shot 50 years ago today on October 20, 1967.

Patty, as the Bigfoot in the film has come to be called, is clearly seen walking off into the woods from the edge of Bluff Creek.

Watch the original footage:

When I met International Cryptozoology Museum founder Loren Coleman at last year’s Milwaukee Paranormal Conference (and got a signed plaster Bigfoot print from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite) I asked him if he believed the film was authentic.

He said he is “97% sure it’s real.”

Bigfoot print from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite
Plaster cast of a bigfoot print from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite

Raven that says Nevermore

Meet the Raven That Says ‘Nevermore’

There’s nothing quite like a raven reciting Edgar Allan Poe to get you into the spirit of Halloween. Zatz the raven, seen in this video with his furry friend Woogie, was trained to say “nevermore” in his creepy, throaty bird voice. Then he throws in some waka wakas for laughs.

Corvids (crows, ravens, etc.) are among the most intelligent bird species known to science, and are the only birds native to North America that are capable of learning to mimic human language. Even if it sounds like Stephen Hawking’s speech synthesizer running low on battery power.

But these majestic black beauties aren’t interested in crackers like they’re more exotic counterparts. They want your soul. For evermore.

Zatz the raven
Zatz the raven

Discovery of the Cardiff Giant

The Cardiff Giant: Making One of History’s Most Famous Hoaxes

A giant petrified man was unearthed on a New York farm in October 1869, but it was really nothing more than an elaborate hoax 2 years in the making.

Explore Salem

Explore Salem With Us This Friday the 13th

Follow Cult of Weird on Instagram for a glimpse at the history of the Witch City and its Halloween festivities this Friday the 13th!
Exploring Salem during Halloween on Friday the 13th

If you’ve been following Cult of Weird long enough you may have noticed I sometimes hijack my sister Elizabeth’s travels to get photos: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C. So, naturally, when she informed me that she would be visiting Salem, Massachusetts…in October…on Friday the 13th…my brain nearly exploded.

Salem is best known as the place where 20 men and women accused of practicing the “Devil’s magic” were executed during the notorious witch trials between 1692 and 1693. But in recent years, the city has embraced it’s macabre history to become America’s Capital of Creepy. If you’ve read J.W. Ocker’s A Season with the Witch (from last year’s fall reading list) you know there are few places better than Salem to be during the Halloween season.

So I’ll be handing over the Cult of Weird Instagram to Elizabeth to take us on her journey as she explores the “Witch City” this Friday the 13th.

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