medical oddities

Eating Holy Clay

Delving among the gravestones, I ran across a disturbing ritual from Ireland where clay from graves is eaten to protect against disease and sin. Unfortunately more was ingested than just clay.

Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of rot.

Being of a morbid temperament, I’ve taken special notice of stories of pale and sickly spirits, so here are a few tales of pallid phantoms. Obviously a ghost is traditionally pale, but these particular sickly-white spirits seem to be associated with a crisis apparition or a death-bed appearance.

Miss Tardo’s Poisonous Profession

A game of snakes & adders. She was billed as the Strangest Woman in the World for her immunity to snake venom and other poisons and her inability to feel pain.

Do the Dead Move?

Experienced morticians know that the dead do move, sometimes in shockingly natural ways, simply due to changes in muscle tension, rigor wearing off, or internal gases. But do certain bodies move in UNnatural ways?

Remove Your Hoops: Lightning Freaks

There were a number of superstitions about lightning: it was bad luck to burn wood from a lightning-struck tree, oak trees were more likely to be struck than beech, a toothpick from a tree struck by lightning would cure toothache. And certain things would “draw” lightning: Milk in a pail, moist hay, bayonets, a warm horse, an umbrella or fishing rod–and ladies’ hoop skirts.

Drinking Molten Lead at the Eddystone Light

When the Eddy-stone Light-house burned in 1755, a spry Henry Hall, aged 94, sprang into action to battle the fire. During the fire he was badly injured and was carried home where he gave his doctor a bizarre explanation for his injuries: he had swallowed melted lead from the fire.

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