Strange Lives

Mothered by a Ghost: Patience Worth’s Daughter

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and as I am nothing if not topical, today we look at a a strange case of spiritual motherhood: the mother-daughter duo–or perhaps trio: Pearl Curran, her daughter Patience, and the “ghostly mother,” Patience Worth.

Mother Taylor and The Power Society

In 1893 a new religious leader arose in Kentucky: Mother Betty Taylor, who claimed to resurrect the dead.

Encore: John Van Valkenburg and His Mysterious Wonderplane

In 1917 John Van Valkenburg, a Salt Lake City inventor, announced that he had conquered the laws of gravity and had an aircraft that could fly from Salt Lake City to the Pacific Coast and back in a night. It was reported that he had taken it to Washington and then turned it over to the US government for use in the War effort. Then, suddenly, Van Valkenburg found himself on trial.

The Poear Dear and the Wicked Woman: A Suffolk Witch Story

A Suffolk witch story from 1877, involving a spell meant to be cast on a man, but transfered to his wife, who suffered for years under the bewitchment. In a series of ill-spelt letters, the witch confesses and suggests a transfer of the spell to its rightful owner.

Hearts and Powers: Cardiac Witchery

In this Valentine’s week, let us take the pulse of early 20th-century witchcraft and look at the power of the heart in enchantments. The hearts of lambs, moles, and humans–all had mystic powers.

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