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Posted on Friday, May 13 - 2005

He was "created" to stop stock theft, but his destiny lay elsewhere, when he galloped into legend as the most fearsome rider in Texas history.

Out of the badlands of the Rio Nueces and across the pages of western lore galloped the most fearsome rider of all time, the dreaded Headless Horseman of South Texas Brush Country. Unlike Washington Irving?s mysterious rider in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this mounted specter was no figment of the imagination by any means. People called him El Muerto, the Dead One, and all who saw him ran screeching like banshees into the night. El Muerto brought terror and fear to the south plains for years.

There is probably no legend in Texas history more frightening and terrifying than that of the headless horseman. He seemed to be everywhere, and his nightly rides caused more wide-spread panic than did the Indians, bandits, and outlaws combined. All efforts to destroy him went futile, as did all attempts to explain him. Credited with all sorts of evil and misfortune, El Muerto galloped across South Texas like wildfire.

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Posted on Thursday, December 24 - 2009

By Norman A. Rubin

Belief in ghosts, demons and spirits has been deep-rooted in Japanese folklore throughout history. It is entwined with mythology and superstition derived from Japanese Shinto, as well as Buddhism and Taoism brought to Japan from China and India. Stories and legends, combined with mythology, have been collected over the years by various cultures of the world, both past and present. Folklore has evolved in order to explain or rationalize various natural events. Inexplicable phenomena arouse a fear in humankind, because there is no way for us to anticipate them or to understand their origins.

The mystery of death is a phenomena that does not offer a rational explanation to various cultures. Death is an intruder. Death is the change from one state to another, the reunion of body with earth, of soul with spirit. Humans, throughout the ages, have seldom been able to believe or to understand the finality of death. For this reason fables and legends have evolved around the spirits of the dead.

The Japanese believe that they are surrounded by spirits all the time. According to the Japanese Shinto faith, after death a human being becomes a spirit, sometimes a deity. It is believed that eight million deities inhabit the heavens and the earth - the mountains, the forests, the seas, and the very air that is breathed. Traditions tell us that these deities have two souls: one gentle (nigi-mi-tama), and the other violent (ara-mi-tama).

Buddhism, which was introduced into Japan in the sixth century CE, added a new dimension to the belief in spirits and other supernatural forces. The Buddhist belief in the world of the living, the world of the dead, and the ‘Pure Land of Buddha’ (Jodo)1 achieved a new meaning. The way a man behaved during his lifetime determined whether he would go to the world of the dead or the ‘Pure Land’. Those driven to the nether-world found it to be a hell in all its vileness...

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Posted on Wednesday, April 05 - 2006

If seeing is believing, then these photos will convince you of the existence of ghosts. Here are some incredible ghost pictures and the equally remarkable stories behind them

They say seeing is believing. And while in this day of digital image manipulation that might not be as true as it once was, these photographs are considered by many to be the real deal - photographic evidence of ghosts. Faking ghost photos through double exposure and in-the-lab trickery has been around as long as photography itself; and today, computer graphics programs can easily and convincingly create ghost images. But these photos are generally thought to be untouched, genuine portraits of the unexplained.

The Brown Lady: (See Left) This portrait of "The Brown Lady" ghost is arguably the most famous and well-regarded ghost photograph ever taken. The ghost is thought to be that of Lady Dorothy Townshend, wife of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount of Raynham, residents of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England in the early 1700s. The Raynham Hall mansion was the home of the Townshend family for over 300 years. Dorothy was the sister of Sir Robert Walpole, Charles' one-time partner with whom he had a falling-out. It was also rumored that Dorothy, before her marriage to Charles, had been the mistress of Lord Wharton, "whose character was so infamous, and his lady's complaisant subserviency so notorious, that no young woman could be four and twenty hours under their roof with safety to her reputation." Charles suspected Dorothy of infidelity. And although according to legal records she died and was buried in 1726, it was suspected that the funeral was a sham and that Charles had locked his wife away in a remote corner of the house until her death many years later.

Dorothy's ghost is said to haunt the oak staircase and other areas of Raynham Hall. In the early 1800s, King George IV, while staying at Raynham, saw the figure of a woman in a brown dress standing beside his bed, noting that her face was pale and hair disheveled. She was seen again standing in the hall in 1835 by Colonel Loftus, who was visiting for the Christmas holidays. He saw her again a week later and described her as wearing a brown satin dress, her skin glowing with a pale luminescence. It also seemed to him that her eyes had been gouged out. A few years later, Captain Frederick Marryat and two friends saw "the brown lady" gliding along an upstairs hallway, carrying a lantern. As she passed, Marryat said, she grinned at the men in a "diabolical manner." Marryat fired a pistol at the apparition, but the bullet simply passed through.

The famous photo above was taken in September, 1936 by Captain Provand and Indre Shira, two photographers who were assigned to photograph Raynham Hall for Country Life magazine. This is what happened, according to Shira:

"Captain Provand took one photograph while I flashed the light. He was focusing for another exposure; I was standing by his side just behind the camera with the flashlight pistol in my hand, looking directly up the staircase. All at once I detected an ethereal veiled form coming slowly down the stairs. Rather excitedly, I called out sharply: 'Quick, quick, there's something.' I pressed the trigger of the flashlight pistol. After the flash and on closing the shutter, Captain Provand removed the focusing cloth from his head and turning to me said: 'What's all the excitement about?'".....

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Posted on Wednesday, September 01 - 2004

I have no faith in ghosts, according to the old sense of the word, and I could grope with comfort through any amount of dark old rooms, or midnight aisles, or over church-yards, between sunset and cock-crow. I can face a spectre. Being at one time troubled with illusions, I have myself crushed a hobgoblin by sitting on its lap. Nevertheless, I do believe that the great mass of “ghost stories,” of which the world is full, has not been built entirely upon the inventions of the ignorant and superstitious. In plain words, while I, of course, throw aside a million of idle fictions, or exaggerated facts, I do believe in ghosts—or, rather, spectres—only I do notbelieve them to be supernatural.

That, in certain states of the body, many of us in our waking hours picture as vividly as we habitually do in dreams, and seem to see or hear in fair reality that which is in our minds, is an old fact, and requires no confirmation. An ignorant or superstitious man fallen into this state, may find good reason to tell ghost stories to his neighbors. Disease, and the debility preceding death, make people on their death-beds very liable to plays of this kind on their failing faculties; and one solemnity, or cause of dread, thus being added to another, seems to give the strength of reason to a superstitious feeling. Concerning my own experience, which comes under the class of natural ghost-seeing, above mentioned, Imay mention in good faith that, if such phantoms were worth recalling, I could fill up an hour with the narration of those spectral sights and sounds which were most prominent among the illusions of my childhood. Sights and sounds were equally distinct and life-like. I have run up-stairs obedient to a spectral call. Every successive night for a fortnight, my childish breath was stilled by the proceedings of a spectral rat, audible, never visible. It nightly, at the same hours burst open a cupboard door, scampered across the floor, and shook the chair by my bedside. Wide awake and alone in the broad daylight, I have heard the voices of two nobodies gravely conversing, after the absurd dream fashion, in my room. Then as for spectral sights: Duringthe. ...

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