Cult of Weird Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Stuff your stockings with this year’s Christmas atrocities! Find the perfect weird gifts for the creeps and deviants on your shopping list.
Dark, weird, creepy and gothic Christmas gift ideas - Cult of Weird holiday gift guide 2019

Welcome to the 6th annual exhumation of ghoulish Christmas goodies here at Cult of Weird! As is tradition, I’ve gathered a fine selection of oddities and curiosities from some of my favorite purveyors of the strange and unusual. This year’s offerings include prints by artists whose work have wormed their into my cold dead heart this year, new books examining reports of strange creatures both past and present, and handcrafted oddities.

NOTE: Many of these items are handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, so they may not be available long.

No Corpses Sticker

No corpses are kept in this vehicle overnight
Whether you drive a hearse or a Prius, keep your corpses safe from body snatchers with these vinyl stickers from Dead Sled Brand.
BUY HERE

Miracle Elixir Hot Sauce

Miracle elixir hot sauce from Death-Ray Design
This hot sauce from Death-Ray Design will cure all your ailments! Garlicky Louisiana style hot sauce with a touch of snake oil.
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Mounted Octopus Tentacle

Octopus tentacle taxidermy by ScientificWoman
A real octopus tentacle preserved and mounted by ScientificWoman.
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Dead Inside But It’s Christmas

When you're dead inside but it's Christmas sweater
Nothing quite embodies the holiday feels around Cult of Weird HQ as this new Christmas sweater from Foxblood.
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Krampus Shrine Christmas Ornament

Krampus Christman ornaments
No Christmas is complete without some handmade Krampus goods by Divine Excesss.
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Forgotten English & Folklore Calendar

Forgotten english and folklore 2020 calendar
A 2020 daily calendar of archaic words, arcane holidays, traditions, superstitions, historical curiosities, and more.
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Heart & Brain Cookie Cutters

Anatomical heart and brain cookie cutters by Bakerlogy
Add some creep to your Christmas cookies with this set of anatomical heart and brain cookie cutters from Bakerlogy.
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Skull Speaker

Wireless bluetooth skull speaker
A wireless bluetooth speaker shaped like a human skull.
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Bone Pentagram Necklace

Pewter bone penatgram necklace
Handmade pewter bone star with mini skull and black Austrian crystal drop.
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Haserot Angel Night Light

Haserot angel night light
A nightlight made from a 3D image of the Haserot angel monument at Lakeview cemetery in Cleveland Ohio.
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Cabinet of Curiosities Mug

Cabinet of curiosities mug
Handmade enamel-coated steel mug with an original cabinet of curiosities design by The Creeping Moon.
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Glass Calavera

Glass calavera
A stained glass hand holding a real calavera loteria card by spooky glass artist Brittany Testa.
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Spiritus Colloquium Ouija Board Game

Spiritus Colloquium Ouija Board Game
Contact the post-living with the deluxe Spiritus Colloquium parlor board game.
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Necro Maria

Necro Maria by Billelis
Necro Maria II print by 3D artist Billelis.
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Gold Cicada

Framed gold cicada
A framed gold cicada ethically sourced, preserved, and framed by The Butterfly Babe.
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Tomb Sweet Tomb

Tomb Sweet Tomb
The stockings are hung by the coffin with care, and this art print by the Crafty BurrEato better be in there.
BUY HERE

The Lake Michigan Mothman

The Lake Michigan Mothman book by Tobias Wayland
There have been numerous sightings of a large winged humanoid near the shores of Lake Michigan in recent years. Tobias Wayland of the Singular Fortean Society explores these encounters through the stories of the witnesses themselves and offers insight as a member of the investigative team.
BUY HERE

Moon Phases Wall Decor

Moon phases wall decor
A handmade set of wood moon phases to hang on your wall.
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Snake Globe

Snake wet specimens
Rattlesnake or python wet specimens in a 5 inch glass globe with ornate base.
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Corpse Meditation

Corpse Meditation art print by Landis Blair
A signed art print by Landis Blair of “Corpse Meditation,” an illustration originally created for the book From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.
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Ghost in the Mirror

Victorian ghost in a mirror
A hand painted resin sculpture of a Victorian ghost emerging from a mirror by Dellamorte & Co. Glows in the dark!
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Cult of Weird Goat Skull T-shirt

Cult of Weird goat skull occult t-shirt
This is probably the first time there has been Cult of Weird swag available to indoctrinate your loved ones with for Christmas, so some shameless self promotion is in order.
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Charles Manson Mug

Charles Manson mug
You just have to try a little harder to stand out from the crowd. Use code CULT to save 15% on all orders from Hammer and Bone until 12/31/2019.
BUY HERE

Gilded Antlion

Antlion specimen by Skullpturas
A genuine antlion specimen (a large four winged insect similar in appearance to a dragonfly) with its wings covered in either gold or copper from Skullpturas.
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Monsters in Print

Monsters in Print book
Adam Benedict, a researcher of cryptozoology and folklore over at The Pine Barrens Institute, assembled this bizarre and amazing collection of strange creature encounters printed in newspapers during the 1800s and 1900s.
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Lovecraft Bust

Bust of H.P. Lovecraft
Handmade 1/4 scale sculpture of H.P. Lovecraft.
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Skull Necklace

Skull necklace from Leviticus Jewlery
Handcrafted sterling silver necklace from Leviticus Jewelry.
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Lonely Ghost

Lonely ghost art print by Laurie A. Conley
A ghost and a grave under a tree and full moon. Print by artist Laurie A. Conley.
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Triple Moon Goddess Pendant

Triple moon goddess woodburned pendant
Handmade wood pendant with woodburned moon and forest design and gemstone.
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Baphomet Statue

Baphomet statue from the Satanic Temple
Who needs an elf on the shelf when you can have Baphomet! A small replica of The Satanic Temple’s controversial Baphomet monument.
BUY HERE

Bad Advice Butterfly

Bad Advice Butterfly
Taxidermist Jack Devaney, creator of the rabbit toaster and other strange and disturbing works, mounted these butterflies on pages of an old book teaching women “how to get a man.”
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Chocolate Anatomical Hearts

Chocolate anatomical hearts by Conjurer's Kitchen
Handmade miniature chocolate anatomical hearts from Conjurer’s Kitchen.
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Krampus Decoration

Krampus art by Meagan Meli
Krampus art inspired by vintage holiday decor from spooky artist Meagan Meli.
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Shark Mandible Necklace

Shark jaw necklace
Gold-painted shark jaw and white turquoise necklace crafted by Gypsy Warrior Tribe.
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Sheep Skull

Sheep skull
Painted and carved sheep skull from Bloodreligion.
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Gothic Bat Pillow

Gothic Victorian bat pillow
Red damask Victorian bat throw pillow.
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Diaphonized Eel Earrings

Diaphonized eel earrings
Diaphonized eels in test tube earrings.
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Death’s Head Moth Ouija Board

Deaths Head moth ouija board
Hand painted golden death’s head moth ouija board from Pandora Witch Shop.
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Creepy Charm Bracelet

Creepy charm bracelet
Pick your creepy charms to create a custom sterling silver bracelet from As Above.
BUY HERE

Original Art by Lauren Nova

Original art by Lauren Nova
“Form Follows Fractal Function” original graphite and white charcoal drawing by Lauren Nova.
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Bats Tree Skirt

Gothic tree skirt
Complete your creepy Christmas with a black tree skirt covered in bats.
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Idle Hands Wrapping Paper

Skeleton hand wrapping paper from Skelly Paper Company
Black wrapping paper with skeleton hands from Skelly Paper Co.
BUY HERE

Merry Creepmas Wrapping Paper

Merry Creepmas creepy gothic wrapping paper
Merry Creepmas black Christmas wrapping paper.
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Baphomet Christmas Stocking

Satanic Christmas stocking
Hail Santa with this cheery Baphomet Christmas stocking.
BUY HERE

Want more books? Check out this year’s morbid must-reads.

Need more ideas?
Browse the weird holiday gift guides of Cultmas past: 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

Captain Dick Stevenson, Inventor of the Yukon’s Legendary Sourtoe Cocktail, Has Died

The inventor of the Sourtoe Cocktail willed his own toes to the Downtown Hotel for use in future drinks, and instructed his daughter how to remove and preserve them.

According to Dick Stevenson, he found the first toe in a cabin he bought in Dawson City in the early 1970s. It turned up in a pickle jar while Stevenson was cleaning out the cabin. A dried up human toe in a jar, frostbitten, supposedly cut off a prospector decades earlier.

Naturally, Stevenson thought it should go in a drink, and that’s how the Sourtoe Cocktail was born.

The mummified toe was placed in a beer glass full of champagne for those brave enough to accept the challenge. But to join the exclusive Sourtoe Cocktail Club at the Downtown Hotel, there is one rule: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.”

“I thought maybe only 10 or 12 people would ever do it,” Stevenson said in a 2017 interview.

But now, 50 years later, the club is 90,000 members strong and growing.

Sourtoe Cocktail
The Sourtoe Cocktail

“As a young man, he hitchhiked his way across Canada, working on cattle ranches and in logging and mining camps,” Canada’s CBC writes. “In 1956, he thumbed his way to Yukon and found a home in the Klondike. He worked as a fish warden in Dawson City for a while, but then became Captain Dick when he bought a boat and began offering tours on the Yukon River. He did that until his retirement.”

“Captain Dick was a true colorful five-percenter who changed Dawson’s brand,” Visit Dawson City tweeted. “His legacy is cemented with the Sourtoe Cocktail, but we’ll always remember him for his undying love of Dawson City. Thanks for everything Dick, we’ll toest one for you tonight.”

Over the years, the Downtown Hotel has accepted more than 10 amputated toe donations to help replace those that have been swallowed or stolen. And now, Stevenson’s own big toes will join the collection.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only daughter in history that has to, following my dad’s will, make sure that his toes are removed and dried and make it up to Dawson City,” Stevenson’s daughter Dixie said. “He kept telling me how I’m supposed to dry his toes. So one day I said, ‘Dad, you have to come so I can type this out, because I’m not going to remember it.”

On her way to pick up containers and pickling salt for her father’s toes, Dixie added, “So as morbid as that sounds, this is what I’ll be doing for the next few weeks.”

Mummified human toe used in the Sourtoe Cocktail
One of the preserved human toes used in the Sourtoe Cocktail

Stevenson, surely an honorary member of the Cult of Weird, spent his final years in the Macauley Lodge Retirement Home with a briefcase. Inside, he kept a leather-bound registry of Sourtoe club members and a small collection of dried human toes.

November 2019 Newsletter: Murder, Monsters, and Chocolate

Another trip down the weird back roads of Wisconsin in search of Satan and other wholesome family activities.

Entrance to the demolished Mirro Manufacturing Company in Manitowoc

The entrance still stands to the demolished Mirro Manufacturing Company in Manitowoc, once one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aluminum cooking utensils, whose early offerings were showcased at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Windigo Fest is an annual Halloween gathering held in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. With three days of live music, sideshow performances, haunted cemetery tours, celebrity guests and more, it’s become the largest Halloween festival in the state. Predictably, it sparked controversy from Manitowoc’s Christian community in it’s first year. One local business owner in particular seemed to have made it her mission to save everyone’s souls from eternal damnation.

“Jody Dubinsky, owner of Treasures in downtown Manitowoc, said this festival is darker than it seems on the surface,” the Herald Times Reporter wrote. “She became concerned when her own research turned up old Native American tales of a creature called the windigo, sometimes spelled wendigo, which eats human beings and devours their souls, particularly young children.”

But that’s not all. The festival was held on the first weekend of the Halloween season that year, October 6th and 7th. 6 plus 7 woefully equals the unlucky number 13. And if that’s not bad enough, the costume parade was planned to go backward up a one way street.

Clearly the work of the devil himself.

In addition to holding meetings to pray over the festival, Dubinsky and several others made their plea to the city council that allowing Windigo Fest to happen would be welcoming Satan into the community.

That’s when I decided I needed to be involved in Windigo Fest any way I could.

When my friend Matt Lombard, curator of the Heart of Darkness dark art exhibition at Windigo Fest, invited me to show my work this year, I knew I had to bring some Cult of Weird-brand history and lore to Manitowoc. Not to mention it would be an honor to have my work hanging alongside other amazing local and international artists including Matt himself, whose portfolio includes work with Cradle of Filth and Combichrist.

I chose photos of three Wisconsin locations seemingly cursed by their past and the legends that have grown around them. Places I’ve been researching for years and continue to find endlessly fascinating for their history and mythology. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ve no doubt read about them at some point.

But just showing poorly composed photos of a house, some graves, and a crypt without context was out of the question. The stories of each location’s significance had to be told, so I included cards with brief write-ups to hang beside each print.

I’ll only include a glimpse of that here because the experience of showing my work publicly (in real life, for better or worse) for the first time is not the point of this post.

View this post on Instagram

Windigo Fest is billed as a “festival of folklore, freaks, and all things Halloween,” so when @matt.lombard invited me to submit something for the dark art exhibition this year, I knew right away I wanted to show photos of local places cursed by years of sinister folklore. The photos I picked weren't chosen for composition but rather the disturbing legends surrounding them, and the fact that each location has long and very real histories of tragedy and mysterious happenings. These are places I've been visiting, photographing, and researching for years, and though I've posted much of it online in various forms, it was exciting to bring them together here in the real world for the first time among so many other amazing artists. . . . #cultofweird #windigofest #windigofest2019 #wifrights #darkart #wisconsin #weirdwisconsin #wisconsinlore #onlyinwisconsin #wisconsinhistory #lore #folklore #haunted #hauntedplaces #abandonedwisconsin #abandonedplaces #cemetery #cemeterylovers #cemeteryphotography #oddities #curiosities #wunderkammer #cabinetofcuriosities #halloween #creepy #horror #occult #paranormal

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What I’m actually working up to here is that while some fret that Windigo Fest brings Satan to Manitowoc, the city is no stranger to weird and evil. It is, of course, the setting of the controversial true crime docuseries “Making a Murderer” on Netflix, and, if this guy is to be believed, may even be home to a secret Satanic club comprised of Manitowoc’s elite who hold their rituals in an abandoned haunted school in St. Nazianz.

I decided to forgo dragging my kids to murder houses during our trip to California, but all bets were off in Manitowoc.

Place of the Spirits

Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Manitowoc, Wisconsin

“In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power,” Neil Gaiman wrote in his 2001 novel American Gods. “Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or…well, you get the idea.”

That particular passage was in reference to roadside attractions like Wisconsin’s own House on the Rock, but it’s an idea that can fit into a slightly more broad perspective, as well.

Dotted with effigy burial mounds and brimming with ancient lore, the physical and spiritual landscape of Wisconsin is largely shaped by its Native American heritage and their mystical places of power. The name Manitowoc, for example, is said to derive from an Anishinaabe word for the area that translates roughly to dwelling of the great spirit, or a similar word from the Menominee language meaning place of the spirits.

Is there something intangible about certain places that stirs up concentrated levels of strange activity? If so, the Manitowoc area may be one such vortex of weird.

The city sits on the shore of Lake Michigan and has its roots in Great Lakes shipping and shipbuilding. But for explorers of the strange and unusual like you and me, Manitowoc is significant for a few more peculiar points of interest which I vowed to visit next time I was in town.

But first, chocolate.

Beersten's candy shop in Manitowoc
Beersten’s Confectionary

If you’re familiar with Making a Murderer and the Steven Avery case, you’ll know why this candy shop is significant to that story. But more importantly, Beersten’s Confectionary is the eastern point of the so-called Wisconsin Candy Delta.

In this Devil’s Triangle of chocolate you’ll find sweets “made from 100-year-old recipes and sold in 50-year-old mom-and-pop bastions — heirloom chocolates fresh from the source” according to a 2008 New York Times article.

Beersten’s in particular feels like stepping back in time, with antique cases displaying a vast assortment of chocolate in unbelievable shapes and sizes. I was so in awe of the place that I apparently only managed to snap a single photo while inside:

A life size chocolate telephone at Beersten's in Manitowoc

That’s right, a life size chocolate telephone.

We purchased strange and wondrous treats (several of them cow-shaped) from the mystical cases at Beersten’s and departed for the next destination, where the quiet streets of Manitowoc were bombarded nearly 60 years ago by cosmic Russian junk.

Sputnik Crashed Here

Sputnik crashed here in Manitowoc, Wisconsin

The Sputnik IV spacecraft was launched into space on May 15, 1960 to study life-support systems that were later used in the manned Vostok craft. Four days later, when it was suppose to return to Earth, the reentry procedure was botched and Sputnik went off course.

The craft ascended into a higher orbit from which it would not return for over two years. The descent module finally reentered Earth’s atmosphere on September 5, 1962, breaking up and scattering chunks of smoldering metal for miles.

Residents of Manitowoc reported seeing as many as 24 pieces falling from the sky that morning, some plummeting toward the ground with a sound like thunder. At the intersection of North 8th and Park, just feet from the Rahr-West Art Museum, a 20-pound piece of debris embedded itself in the street.

Two police officers on patrol spotted the chunk of metal in the street and, believing it fell off a truck, decided to leave it. It wasn’t until later, when they heard the news about Sputnik, that they realized what they had found.

A brass ring marks where Sputnik crashed
A brass ring in the street marks the exact location where a chunk of Sputnik landed

A brass ring in the middle of the street marks the spot where the debris was found. The nearby Rahr-West Art Museum displays a replica of the debris cast from the original. The annual Sputnikfest is held here, where visitors can enjoy a humorous, vodka-fueled reenactment of the Sputnik control room when things went wrong, the Miss Space Debris pageant, and other “wacky tacky” festivities.

Not far from Rahr-West is a WWII relic that seems to have a lingering member of the crew still aboard.

Haunted WWII Sub

USS Cobia haunted submarine in Manitowoc
USS Cobia submarine at the Manitowoc Maritime Museum

The USS Cobia was launched in 1943 and sank 13 Japanese vessels during it’s World War II duty. Today, the Cobia serves as an international memorial to submariners at Manitowoc’s Maritime Museum.

And it may still be the home of one particular crewman who didn’t leave his post alive.

“The Cobia did see some action in WW2 and a gentleman was killed on one of the guns,” a Cult of Weird reader said in an email a few years ago. “To this day they say he haunts the submarine. My pastor’s daughter used to be a tour guide on the submarine and can tell you stories about dropping keys through the grate on the floor and returning with them hanging on the wall.”

Making a Murderer

Avery's Auto Salvage
Avery’s Auto Salvage

A few miles outside of Manitowoc is Avery’s Auto Salvage, where the events documented in the Netflix series Making a Murderer played out. Whether the land where Steven Avery’s family still resides is the site of a brutal murder or an appalling miscarriage of justice, once a place has been marked with stigma, the curse doesn’t go away.

Much like the residents of Ed Gein’s hometown, locals here mostly seem to regard the unwanted attention as a wound on their community.

“I’d say the overwhelming opinion is it was just fabrication and just a pain in the butt,” one man told the Green Bay Press Gazette about the series in 2018, “giving the area a bad name through twisted facts.”

Avery's Auto Salvage sign

But, just like Plainfield, true crime enthusiasts and dark tourists make great pilgrimages to glimpse the infamous salvage yard. Out-of-state visitors frequently stop for selfies with the auto salvage sign, and the town has been forced to explore alternative methods of attaching the Avery Road sign to its post to prevent it being stolen again.

Avery's Auto Salvage

Avery's Auto Salvage

Avery's Auto Salvage

Bonus Weird Thing

Soon after returning from Manitowoc I found an email in my inbox from a couple who encountered a wendigo-ish sort of creature in nearby Two Rivers. I wrote about it here: A Wendigo Encounter in Manitowoc County?

My conversation with the witness began in the comments of something I had previously written about wendigo encounters in Wisconsin. But was it actually wendigo? Does the description even remotely match a wendigo? I dunno. Sometimes writing post titles is hard, man.

Weird News

A selection of the strangest and most fascinating headlines in science, history, archaeology, travel, and more from last month:

November Observances

November 1-2 – Dia de los Muertos
November 2 – All Souls Day
November 19 – World Toilet Day
November 21 – World Television Day
November 22 – Anniversary of the mysterious Max Headroom hack
November 30 – Saint Andrew’s Day

From the Cult of Weird Community

Share your art, oddities and weird adventures by tagging your photos #cultofweird

Send questions, photos of your favorite oddities, or share share your strange or unexplained experiences to be included in the next newsletter. Use the contact form or email info@cultofweird.com

Previous Newsletter: Cult of Weird goes to Hollywood

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