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Category Archives: Occult

Idaho Statesman, Februay 4, 1891. Magic isn’t all bats and black cats, you know. “You ought to be scragged” is a lovely bit of self-explanatory onomatopoeia.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 1910. Further to the erotic adventures of Oom the Omnipotent. Read More »

princeBoston Journal, December 2, 1905. Whaddya expect from the city that gave us Unitarianism? Read More »

astralAChicago Tribune, March 20, 1921. I think we all instinctively feel the same way about “brown spirit rays,” whatever their source. Then again, if Egyptian mummies turn out to be the primary or sole source of these brown emanations, then charges of Orientalism are sure to follow. In that case, our very favorite color of spiritual radiation is brown–we don’t want any trouble from the late Edward Said’s ronin bodyguards. Read More »

Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1873. Meet the Benders, a Kansan family of saloon-keeping, highway-robbing, serially-killing, corpse-plundering spiritualists. Seems they were doing all right in their chosen line of work until they bumped off the brother of a state senator.
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Okay, okay: enough with the forensics, however lurid. Let’s get to the spooky stuff!

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So: the cops, unable to locate the missing persons, enlist the psychic aid of medium Kate Bender, who stalls them long enough for her whole murderous clan to get away. They were never caught, by the way.

That last sentence–”Altogether the murders are without a parallel”– strikes me as wholly licensed by the facts.

witch7-3-1899Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1899. “Spiritualist” is a pretty broad and diffuse category at this time, but basically we’re talking about someone who saw dead people, or at least purported to communicate with them. The bit about the killer losing $250 to his victim is intriguing. Was she the local “conjure woman,” scamming credulous neighbors? Was he a paranoid psychotic who randomly fixated on the blameless Swedenborgian lady next door? I say we hold a seance and interview the principals of the affair.

The word “genius” in “evil genius” is being used in its old, almost forgotten sense of “spirit,” as opposed to “clever bastard” or “MacArthur Grant recipient.”

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Detroit News, April 10, 1931. According to Google Earth, it’s 269 freakin’ miles from Pittsburgh to Forty Fort, Pennsylvania–quite the walk home for Frances. But then what is a Wellesley girl supposed to do when a 76-year-old witch ensorcels her husband with intent to build a sex cult around him?

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