Places of Power

There are individual places of power, places when you just feel right, places that recharge you.

I know most of you are going to say something about majestic redwood forests or some such, but well… different strokes for different folks.

After deciding at 8 that when I grew up I was going to live in Denver and be a writer (and keep in mind that my geography was so great at the time that I actually thought Denver was by the sea.  I might have had it confused with Dover…) I found that there are places in Denver that are “places of power” for me.

Perhaps they were invested with extra power by being visited when we had a “vacation” with the kids, when they were little, but there’s very few times when I’m depressed and dragging that can’t be made way better by taking me to walk around the lake in city park, or to the natural history museum, or to Pete’s.  Perhaps Pete’s most of all.  It’s not unheard of for us, in the middle of an otherwise normal evening, to go to Pete’s for coffee.

As for power… well, going there restores my mood and I feel better, more able to cope.

Most individual places of power are like that, but not all.  I don’t have any bad feelings/memories associated with any particular place, but I know people who do.  Returning to one of those places might be traumatic for people.

In the same way civilizations have places of power, good and bad.  I once had dinner where the founding fathers discussed revolution, and it had a feeling of energy and excitement.

In the same way I have heard people describe sites of great disasters or worse of evil events, like the death camps, or the pyramids of Mexico, as places where even the birds won’t sing, and things feel odd and hushed and depressing.  The same has been described of battle sites of WWI, for instance.

How much of that is because we know what happened there?  How much because there is something that attaches to a place where mass death occurred in quantities?

Whether you believe that there have been other civilizations we don’t even remember, in the potentially 250k years we’ve been human (again, these would have to be either bronze age level or so much more advanced than ours that they returned the Earth to pristine condition when they left, and only some troglodytes, our ancestors, stayed behind.  Either is POSSIBLE, but I’d bet on a lot of the first kind) the truth is even in the history and pre-history we do know, there are tons of such places that have potentially been forgotten.  Some we’ll have forgotten the location, (no one quite knows where the battle Cannae took place, for instance) and some that it even occurred.  One of the things humans have always been good at is batch lot slaughter and genocide, often for what the people doing it believe are laudable reasons.

Would those places also feel hushed, strange, weird?

The fact is that there are some places in which most people experience a feeling of oppression and even some of the other strange things “being avoided by birds and animals” and magnetic issues, for no reason at all that we can figure out.  And most people just sort of avoid it.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this — Havey is now sick, and we spent a disturbed night, other than having to clean bathroom and carpet when I woke up because Euclid-cat has old age incontinence — except that if you find a place in a highly populated area and no one has built on it for centuries, don’t.  You might not feel the unease until you’re living in it full time.  (Aka my parents’ house.  And judging from things we’ve unearthed while setting in gardens, etc, probably ancient battle site, Romans vs Celts.)

It fascinates me: the idea that places where great evil occurred have been forgotten, and yet something lingers to tingle the back of our conscious.

The same way of our being gone for so long and our civilization so thoroughly obliterated that what we sense as unclean places are forgotten disturbs me in a way I can’t even explain.

Perhaps it is the fate of humanity to again and again build civilization, which gets forgotten along with all its sins and glories…  only to tickle the unquiet the dreams and the restless senses of those of their descendants who don’t even have any idea of their existence.


290 thoughts on “Places of Power

  1. Some places do feel “right” and others “wrong.” I sometimes wonder if there might be something to do with scents, or magnetic fields, or even shapes. As mentioned at Mad Genius Club today, Feng Shui is a thing.

    In a story I had the demons create fear by having bodies with wrong proportions, which would really bother a human if they saw it move. Another weapon they had was a “magic spell” that fooled the human inner ear, so you would think the fear is of the demon but really it was the atavistic fear of falling being triggered.

    But then a Valkyrie combat chassis ran over it, so that worked out well. ~:D

    1. I’m reminded of the deliberately impossible sets of German Expressionist films. Prime example, of course, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” with its hand-drawn backgrounds with no right angles.

      How to translate such a visual effect into language? How did you convey your mal-proportioned demons?

      1. “So long, suckers!” caroled Gudrun as she powered off across the desert. “They went for it hook, line and sinker!”
        Jimmy and Beatrice were strapped into chairs in her crew cabin, being bounced around despite the suspension. She was laughing and showing off to distract them from the demons. Jimmy was brave, but the reality of the Dark Ones up close was scaring the hell out of him. “Hey Jimmy, watch me bulls-eye this clown!”
        She showed a minor imp running along, surrounded by much larger demons in the main body of Varlian’s host. “First I miss him on the left,” she said. On the screen, a bolt of light struck to the imp’s left, leaving a patch of glowing molten glass. “Now, I miss him on the right.” Again, a bolt left liquid glass, which an ogre stepped in and fell down bellowing. The imp ran faster, his leer of blood lust transforming to a grimace of fear. “Look at the face on him! He’s having a cow! Okay, now I zap him. Three, two, one, ka-blooey!” The imp took a direct hit from a particle beam and became glowing vapor.
        “Any chance we could do that to the big ones?” quavered Jimmy. He was improving with distance from the Dark Ones but was still very frightened.
        “Two megatons per second, Jimmy,” said Gudrun proudly. “I can turn my turret around and make it a drifting ash cloud whenever the hell I want. You are safe in here. But we are setting them up for a punchline, so we want them to get a little cocky first.”
        “I know all that,” said Jimmy, reaching over and taking Beatrice’s hand. “I’m still scared it’s going to come in here and get me. It’s horrible! I feel like I did when I was little, and there was a monster in the closet.”
        “It’s an information attack,” said Gudrun. “The thing chose its size, shape, proportions, and motions to screw with your human senses. Everything about it is threatening and wrong.” She was watching his brainwaves calm down with the nerdy details, so she kept the explanation going. “It also is doing something weird to gravity, subverting your nervous system through your balance sensors. Fear of falling is a core human reflex. It is fooling you into thinking you’re afraid of it, when really you’re afraid you’ll fall. It has a limited range, lucky us. You feel better the farther away we get, right?”
        “I do,” he admitted. “Thanks, Gudrun, for looking after us.”
        “You’re doing great, Jimmy. I’m proud of you,” said Gudrun. “How about you, Bea? How are you making out?”
        “I want to get out and shoot that thing for messing with Jimmy,” Beatrice said with a scowl.
        “It might be a little out of your weight class,” said Gudrun judiciously. “But if you want, you can use one of my tertiary guns and shoot it in the eye. That’ll piss it off.”
        “Too accurate,” said Beatrice after considering the offer. “I can wait until after the joke is over. Penelope wants to use her main drive on the thing.”
        “That would be something to see,” said Gudrun. “I have a hard time believing the squid could regenerate after something like that, but scary wolf lady says they can.”
        “She’s not so bad,” said Beatrice, to change the subject and get Jimmy thinking about something else. “Did you hear about our wolf-teasing adventure? Nammu had to come and break it up before Guruh jumped Jimmy and me.”
        “You’re awful, Beatrice,” laughed Gudrun. “Invite me next time.”
        She gunned her engines to lift her prow up and jumped over a dry wash. Three hundred feet of armored destruction hurtled through the air and landed on the other side like the General Lee jumping over Hazzard Creek. Her two passengers were briefly weightless, then squashed into the suspension seats.
        “Should I yell ‘yee-haw’ now?” asked Beatrice frostily.
        “What?” asked Gudrun with false innocence. “A girl can’t have a little fun?”
        “You did a wheelie and then aired out your tracks, didn’t you?” accused Jimmy. His face was a little green, Dark Ones forgotten as she had intended. “You did a wheelie when we are being chased by demons.”
        “Only a little one,” she said defensively.
        “You are a maniac!” said Jimmy. “That was awesome! Do it again.”

    2. What happened in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and when did it happen?

      Any suggestions would be welcome, as would other locations. I’ve a project that can use as many forgotten horrific prehistoric events as can fit.

      1. Apparently there was this one time in Galilee, about 2 thousand some-odd years ago. A local carpenter guy handled that one.

      2. The Jersey Pine Barrens are a place of their own.

        The last Christmas break we spent together my Momma decided that I was going to drive her to the Jersey Shore on New Year’s day. (Momma thought that the ocean was magical in winter. On that I think she was right.) That night, on the return trip, I could swear we fell out of time — fortunately found our way home … eventually.

        1. It may just be the difference the Pine Barrens have versus pretty much the rest of the entire state of New Jersey: people and development are scarce. I drove down to south Jersey a few times in my teen years, and for miles you see the road you’re driving and the pines and the sandy soil, and little else. Outside the Pine Barrens, you can rarely go more than a mile or so without seeing some other signs of civilization than the road you’re driving.

          1. Yes, in part, there is also a particular eerie effect of fog in the Pine Barrens that I have not encountered elsewhere.

    3. The “wrongest” place I’ve ever visited was the concentration camp at Dachau. Three of us visited there on a day off from a consulting job, and it hit all of us like a club..

  2. I actually thought Denver was by the sea.

    Denver was by the sea, but that sea dried up and went gone. Right place but wrong time.

  3. My parents used to make trips to Gettysburg, and they said that the battlefields had a certain kind of hushed, aching sense of what had happened there. Hallowed ground.

    1. Not that a specific battle took place there, but because of the reason it was built and the vibe during and afterwards with survivors; and maybe the visual impact has something to do with it. Vietnam Memorial. The couple of times I visited, watched kids suddenly become quiet and subdued, without prompting from parents. Wanting to touch the wall. Willing to reach out to hug, at minimum put a hand on their shoulder, Vets standing silently crying at the wall. Yes, I tend to be sensitive/emphatic to others. Multiple Vets affect me; but it would only take one. BUT (and it is a big BUT) not normally physically demonstrative toward strangers, period. No, I am not a vet; likely would have not have done well, adaptive, but don’t think that would have been enough.

      1. No vets there when I visited– just a bunch of bratty high school kids, most of whom “knew” that Vietnam vets are all crazy or hate the gov’t, etc.

        There was only one noisy SOB, and he quit FAST when folks reacted. If it had been the teacher reacting, probably would’ve been ignored.

        It’s…. yeah.

        1. “The couple of times I visited, watched kids suddenly become quiet and subdued, without prompting from parents.”
          I have been at the original monument, and have also seen the same awed reaction in the crowd gathered around a traveling small-scale replica at a county fair in Texas.
          It is a good thing, that we have not completely lost a sense of the sacredness of sacrifice.

      2. I remember feeling a distinct cold chill down my back while I was in the area of the Devil’s Den. I learned later that folks have supposedly seen apparitions of a Confederate soldier there.

        1. I made the mistake of touching the rocks in Devil’s Den (poor balance). It was… not a pleasant experience.

      3. Arlington is simlar. Some places are guarded. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Vietnam Memorial had its own guardian.

        As for being a vet with that kind of sensitivity. It can be done, especially if you know what’s going on and so can build defenses. Without that it can be rough. (It’s one of the reason I’m not in the Army anymore.)

    2. I remember standing at the High Water Mark looking across the field to the tree line on the other side where the Confederate charge had started and marveling at how any of Pickett’s men could have made it across.

        1. My folks visited Culloden when they traveled around Europe after getting married. Your mentioning it sparks a memory of them saying they felt the same thing when they were there.

    3. The Alamo is kind of the same way. Some of the worst fighting was in the “barracks” and there’s a feel there that I can’t describe. I’m not comfortable in there — more so, I think, because I had a cousin some generations removed who died in the battle. Though I think that he didn’t die in that building; I think I know where he died — out by the palisade with Crockett — but other than sensing it when I stood there, I have no real proof.

      Most of the places where I used to go to “recharge” were out in the country (I grew up in rural TN), and one way or another I no longer have access — the property has been sold, people have moved, etc. Which, I guess, kind of explains why my mood and energy levels have been slowly going downhill in recent years.

      1. I’ve also been to the San Jacinto Monument & Battlefield, and I can sense that, too. The Texicans beat Santa Anna there, and it was pretty much a rout; the Texicans were using a slough with surrounding higher ridges to shelter and stay out of sight, and Santa Anna, the idiot, positioned his men between the slough and Galveston Bay, which outlier kinda wraps around. So the Mexicans had water on two sides and the Texicans in front. Houston sent his cavalry around to cut off the fourth side — during afternoon siesta no less, and yes, Santa Anna let his men take a siesta, KNOWING Houston’s men were just over the rise — then opened up with cannon and sent the infantry over the rise.

        They literally drove the Mexicans into the sea. By that point the Alamo and Goliad massacres had happened, and the Texicans fairly slaughtered the Mexicans…

        …And you can just sort of feel it.

        1. On a cold and very windy day in late autumn The Daughter and I stood on a hill overlooking the site of the Battle of Washita River.  It was bone chilling beyond what the actual temperature, even factoring the effect of the wind, justified.

            1. The Daughter and I were alone as well.

              Did you visit the Washita’s little town museum? Priceless. One part the battle, one part the story of the European settlers, one part the woman who went off to Broadway. Pure Americana.

  4. Not one, not two, but three different sites I know of no links between are talking about genus loci in some form or another.

    I’m not counting MGC for this purpose, lots of known links between here and there.

    I think there’s something in the ether this week. Rather eerie.

    1. Uh oh. When you start getting unrelated sensitives all going off at the same time; that’s not a good sign. I won’t rule out it being a statistical anomaly; but coincidences push the boundaries. Ah, anyone read Childhoods End recently?

      1. It happens. Think of A Bugs Life and Ants coming out in the same year. The most controversial is Rhapsody Rabbit and Cat Concerto. I suspect that slush pile readers see clusters of similar stories. The question is what is the trigger. Won’t say it’s not something like Jung’s shared consciousness, but tend to wonder about more prosaic triggers.

  5. I think it would be fascinating to do a ‘blind’ (I doubt proper double-blind is possible) test of this and be taken, unaware of some Great Event(s) to places of supposed Great Good, or Great Evil and see/feel if anything is picked up. I can’t say I really have experienced anything place-associated beyond “I was here before when/and…” There are general places and times that I find soothing: Give me a dark, starlit night on a lonely road (or field, I suppose) well away from artificial lighting and while it might not be the elixir panacea it’s as close as I’ve found – for me. For others? I wouldn’t bet on it.

    1. I grew up near a cemetery, so I can’t say. I do know that where I felt creeped out were places I perceived danger. The absolute worse was pulling a meter in the back of an abandoned package store. The creepy feeling was what else might be in there with me, and that consisted of two and four legged critters or things with rattles on their tails, not any sort of “haint.” Didn’t help that I had a run-in with wasps at the pole. Felt more creeped out there than I did in high grass when I smelled a rattlesnake, or in grass beside a pond that looked like a perfect spot for a ‘gator to hunt.

      1. Aye, I ‘grew up’ in the country and have had too-close encounters with skunks, porcupines, and even a black bear… but the most ‘wild’ and dangerous-feeling and lonely place I’ve been… was Los Angeles.

      2. I would expect a cemetery to have less taint, as it is not a place where people have died (or rather, there are far more dead than those simply killed there.) Arguably it is the fact of being killed that would flavour the site. Simply disposing of corpses should have little effect on the area.

        1. We asked the question of why a ghost would want to hang around a cemetery all the time. We wouldn’t.

          Full disclosure: Great-grandfather would make caskets on demand; grandmother would line them; her son, my father, like other men in the community, would dig graves and pour vaults. That may have something to do with it, too. We once discussed making our own caskets to save money, but my mother and wife wouldn’t hear of it.

          1. I grew up helping care for two different cemeteries– always found them comforting, if sad.

            They were all very Christian, and probably Catholic, though.

            The idea of an unhallowed grave is creepy.

            1. Huh. For whatever reason, the idea of an unhallowed grave never bothered us. Family instructions in WWII all held not to have their bodies shipped home because ultimately where one is buried doesn’t matter. I’ve suggested my burial in the yard as a matter of convenience, but my wife doesn’t like it. I told her she could put a flat slab and run the lawn mower right over it, but no.*

              Note: It was common in the US to bury notorious locals outside the official bounds of the church cemetery. I suppose it was the idea of hallowed ground. Thus an area marked as a cemetery may not be the total extent of the graves.

              *Lately I’m partial to the words “I still don’t want to be here.” engraved on my stone, edging out “I’m at church now.”

              1. Any official burial is going to have prayers said over it– it’s more along the lines of shoot, shovel and good riddance to the rubbish I’m worried about.

                    1. I know of someone who was murdered, shoved in a freezer, dismembered, and buried. Our trucks used to stop at the store where they kept the body. I do need to ask where they had the parts buried, just because that’s almost forgotten now. But for whatever reason, going there wouldn’t bother me. It did bother some that the meat for the sandwiches made at the store was kept in the same freezer as the body. Such is our humor that we dubbed the store “The Chop Shop.” Said store is no longer in business, BTW.

                      Was he “good?” Probably. But we weren’t the ones who murdered and dismembered him. It’s sad, and unfortunate, but we weren’t the ones responsible.

                    2. Places that “Feel Wrong” don’t seem too picky about guilt.

                      I don’t know how to describe it, beyond something about what might move in to the negative space provided there. Think of it like the same way I wouldn’t want to hang around a place where they’d done voodoo or attempted satanism,

                    3. Will admit to being a bit creeped once coming across evidence of attempted magic, but wasn’t creeped before I noticed it. It was like when we went into a clean convenience store only to find drug paraphernalia for sale at the back.

          2. I. Bury me in a sheet and plant a tree over me.
            II. Cremate me.
            (1) Mix the cremains with cement. Use it to pour the foundations.
            (2) Mix with melted bronze and pour a new bell.
            (3) Sprinkle on your garden.
            III. You could compost me, but that seems like an unnecessary step. See option I.
            IV. Feed my remains to some carnivores, scavengers, or lawyers. Well, skip the lawyers, let them starve. 😉

            1. Since my wife was unhappy with the idea of my slab in the front yard, I suggested cremating me and throwing the ashes in the garbage, but she didn’t like that, either.

              The tree reminds me of an incident my father remembers. There was a huge black gum next to a modern marker in a cemetery. My father remembered when they went to set the marker, the tree was in the way, because it had come up over the grave. They set the marker beside the tree and called it a day. Now the tree is dead and rotted away, and I can’t recall if the headstone was to the left or the right of the grave.

              1. As grave marker I rather fancy a large-ish gazebo, with floor (parquet seems about right) and a small bandstand for the annual dance commemorating my burial.

    2. It is commonly believed by pretty much all faiths that there is power in the shedding of blood, so it would follow that places where great amounts of blood were violently shed might bear a taint.

      A double blind test might involve four variants of taking people to a site:
      a) where much blood was shed and so informing them.
      b) where much blood was shed and not so informing them.
      c) where much blood was not shed and falsely claiming it a bloody site.
      d) where much blood was not shed and so informing them.

      1. I wonder if there wouldn’t be some interesting results of this experiment. I’m a history obsessive, and imaginative, and there are places I have visited intentionally and felt that kind of weird off-ness. (The Dachau concentration camp was one of those, the Verdun battle-site another, the enclosed church-yard at the old La Bahia presidio another.) But I have the comfort of being able to tell myself that it is my imagination running at full-tilt.
        My daughter is one of those who is apparently sensitive to sites where violent events have happened. She was freaked out at the age of 4 and something, at Dachau, and at Verdun, and a dozen other places, including a room at the Alhambra in Granada, where an especially brutal massacre had taken place. She had a sort of panic attack in a stairwell in another Spanish castle, and once she told me that she had been driving on a highway in the Carolinas, and had that weird panicky feeling at the sight of an offramp for a certain town. Found out later there had been a particularly bloody skirmish at that place during the Civil War. So there is a certain miasma hanging around certain places.

        And there is a good feeling at certain others – I did a feature for a local magazine a couple of years ago, which involved a visit to an old resort hotel and hot-water spa on the South Side. Hot Wells, it is called – currently being renovated. It was all ruinous when we visited – but walking around the old bathhouse and motor-court ruins, it all felt so calm, and peaceful. If there were spirits at Hot Wells, they were all genial, comfortable haunts.

        1. I tend to be more comfortable in the woods. In particular, around sloughs near rivers. Just thinking about it is relaxing. Just thinking about tends to filter out the mosquitoes at certain times of the year and the spider webs at other times of the year. Near water it’s sometimes thick with golden orb spider webs. Add a hoot owl, and it’s downright serene. A chuck-will’s-widow calling in the evening is even better.

          OTOH, if I get the feeling there’s a predator around, I’m more comfortable armed in these places, but that’s another story.

          Still, I remember once when we walked up on a fawn, the mother trying to draw us away. We didn’t disturb it, and when we left, the little thing got up and walked a couple of steps to get a better look at us.

      2. Scientist or no, I’m considered something of a sensitive. When we first moved to Huntsville, we would spend various times driving around the city, familiarizing ourselves with it and learning our way around.

        There was this one house near downtown (“Old Town”) on the corner, and it creeped me out horribly every time we drove by there. I simply did NOT want to go by that house. We eventually stopped going through that neighborhood, it creeped me so badly.

        A couple of years later I was talking to a local and I happened to think of that house, so I asked about it, and told her where it was. She knew exactly where I meant, and she said that indeed, it had a bad history. I don’t recall all the details, but IIRC an entire family had been murdered there…and I think it was by another family member, if memory serves.


        1. Huntsville TX, AL, UT, or IL?
          I would believe it of the first two especially.
          Had planned to Huntsville TX, before we moved to Colorado, because of many pleasant family trips to the State Park.

        2. An atheist friend (more than one) actually asked me once why someone as intelligent as me ‘believed in that nonsense.’

          The short answer to that was “I experienced too much weird shit to logically, rationally dismiss.”

          “weird shit” is still not my default answer – it’s the ‘okay, we’ve eliminated all the logical, rational, scientific answers; what’s in the irrational box that could answer this?’ It’s the “Why the hell did offering three hard boiled eggs and an apology to the unseen result in the baby’s fever fading away even as we walk back to the house” cannot explain either.

        3. A friend of mine toured a local house with a macabre history* when it went up for sale. He said he was too creeped out to make an offer on it, especially when he found a section of floorboards in the closet turned into a trap door.

          The couple who bought it have fixed it up nicely and hung Superman statues around. They’ve done a couple of tours and a documentary entitled “The House is Not to Blame.” But mostly they just live there in a cheerful atmosphere.

          *Boarding house where an elderly lady murdered her lodgers for their Social Security checks and buried them in the backyard.

          1. That is obviously merely a defamatory reputation based on a canard. As we all know, no woman, and especially no elderly woman, would perpetrate such heinous acts (not to mention the improbability of her being able to dig graves and carry corpses out to inter them.)

            While women are capable of doing anything a man can, they don’t because women are inherently nicer.

            That landlady was probably a male in women’s DNA.

          1. I wonder.. if a person were taken, somehow unaware, to Kokura, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki (not necessarily in that order) if anything would be picked up upon.

            1. Hard to say… When my mother was in in Korea as a kid (missionary kid) she reported triangular deamon in her room (how she described it at the time. Looking back on the memory it had been essentially wedged into the corner and therefore had become corner shaped.) The building was a former Imperial Japanese police station…

            2. I went to Nagasaki, KNOWING about it, and zip for me.

              Of course, I can’t think of anywhere out in the Japanese general areas that I ever did feel like something was Seriously Wrong. There were a few times on base, but that was more “uh, dangerous area, retreat, retreat, retreat.”

    3. My father and aunt have separate stories of feeling (him) and seeing (her) something scary at a particular location in his childhood bedroom; Dad says it woke him up about once a week throughoug high school. I took this much more seriously upon realizing it was the bedroom where I got put down for a nap at age five, and woke up in absolute unreasoning terror after it got dark. All my fear was focused on the exact same spot in the room.

      There was also a lovely, tranquil bridge over a stream on my college campus where I was absolutely convinced that something Bad happened. Talked with a friend and she felt the same way, and after a while I noticed that none of the girls I knew wanted to go there, or linger if they were outdoor types. My friend and I decided to prove to ourselves that there was nothing going on and took a walk at about 9 PM, well after dark that time of year. Spooky-feeling, but nothing “real” until halfway across the bridge when I had to grab the rail because I abruptly went blind. I kept quiet and felt my way along so as not to freak out my friend, who was twitchier than I was, and my vision came back the second I stepped off the bridge. But I bumped into my friend on the last step and she just about bolted. I asked her if she was okay before telling her what had happened to me, and she told me that halfway across the bridge, she’d stopped being able to see.

      I went back a lot out of sheer obstinacy. But not after dark.

  6. Huh. Also mentioned at Mad Genius Club, our house had an unfortunate history, and my friends and coworkers said they wouldn’t have moved into it. But it was at an early age when, as we passed the church cemetery, I realized that likely there was no place where someone had not died.

    If I was offered, at a good price, a vacant lot in an otherwise populated area, I’d want to see why. Maybe it was a life firing range and unexploded shells are still there. Maybe it’s a forgotten cemetery. Maybe it’s a springy area, or the site of an old watch dial factory or a chemical plant. Maybe it’s prone to mosquitoes and there’s dim memories of the fevers. But anything else wouldn’t occur to me.

    1. Radium Dial works? As I recall, Long Island… and Ottawa, IL were the two sites. (I once shocked a resident of Ottowa, IL by [absolute sheer chance!] mentioning the Radial Dial works… at the time, I hadn’t known. Yeah, the Universe is a mighty weird place… and it seems to delight in being weird at me. Which is fine. Weird is ok. Evil is not. Given the choice [I’ve NOT been been given such, as far as I know] go with weird. At least it can be funny at times. Evil.. is just, well, evil.

      1. Yep, that’s what I’m thinking of. Oh. and another reason something might not be built on a site is something like a big septic tank, or worse, fuel tanks in the ground.

    2. …likely there was no place where someone had not died

      This. Going back far enough, anyplace that was not vertical is likely to have had someone dying there at some point, pretty much anywhere except Antarctica.

      I wonder if I didn’t know what had happened there, would I feel any different when I stood on Little Round Top at Gettysburg? Because knowing, I definitely felt something.

      No way to know, of course, but if there’s a way to leave a mark on a place, I wonder if the mass striving by the living at Gettysburg, or the mass despair at the Aztec pyramids, or at the camps across Europe, or the gulag sites in Siberia, ar at the beaches in Normandy, wouldn’t leave more of that type of mark than, say, at the spot up in the Alps where one Bronze Age dude sat down in that little sheltered area in the snow, just for a minute to catch his breath, and never got back up.

  7. There is a lot to this universe that our senses do not fully pick up on. The possibility exists that the things that give us the “paranormal” are actually concrete and real, but we just can’t discern more than the shadow and outlines of them.

    It is going to be fun watching what happens if we ever develop the ability to render these things visible to our senses.

    1. It is going to be fun watching what happens if we ever develop the ability to render these things visible to our senses.
      Like 2 Kings 6:15-17? 🙂

    2. “George, I’m getting a partial reading on tactile and thermal sensors.”

      “What’s it feel like?”

      Gillian replied, “Feels like a really faint cold, prickly. Not much else.”

      The team moved further down the corridor. Everyone’s heads swiveling back and forth, their nostrils flared, sniffing for anything out of the ordinary.

      “Got something.” said George. “Yeah, it’s a faint wisp of corruption. Up head.”

      Up ahead was a t-intersection. Debris cluttered both left and right branches. The team halted and considered.

      “Smells worse to the right.”

      “I smell it now too.”

      George issued his instructions. “Everyone put your gloves on, and take out your daggers. Tom, you’re on the EMP generator. Just don’t push the button until I say so, or you see me go down.”

      Tom gulped. The cold iron daggers with silver chased filigree did double duty against non-corporeals. And the daggers themselves worked just fine against more mundane threats. But holding them when the EMP generator went off produced some amazing electrical discharges that hopefully the insulated gloves protected against. And the EMP also did spectacular things to the non-corporeals too; which was the whole point.

  8. If I ever get my life togerther enough to finish a story I’ve started (wife with multiple health issues) I have an idea for a series of tales concerned with consensual reality; i.e. if vampres are popular in the culture, you start to get vampires for,real and so on. The main character is mostly concerned with covering up enouh that you don’t enter a belief-feedback loop. With special emphasis on Lovercraft.

    1. MLP…. Unicorn sightings in five.. four… three.. two…

      Okay, okkay, Labyinth time before there is The Dreaded Notice.
      This ain’t my first manifestation.

      Thank goodness for furry – great cover!

      1. Old covert ops hand turned antique dealer.

        “Mr. Tarr! Why do you have a gun?!?”

        (with great patience) “Because there is a practical limit to what can be accomplshed with a penknife and boundless enthusuasm.”

        1. Christopher Lee while filming “Return of the King.”

          “That’s not how the body responds when someone is stabbed in the back,” more or less. Apparently it was said very calmly, factually, and professionally.

            1. Not quite. Whatever Sir Christopher did during the War was (and, I believe still is) covered by the Official Secrets Act … but everybody knows it was not a desk job. If the extras on the LOTR DVDs can be believed, he simply said that he knew what sound a man makes when he’s suddenly stabbed form behind, and proceeded to demonstrate. No one saw fit to question him further. After all, who are we to question the word of an eldritch wizard from beyond the sea? 😉

    2. Jim Butcher has something like that in the Dresden Files–the Venatori Umbrorum, whose job it is to destroy the evidence of existence of various Things That Should Not Be in order to prevent them from gaining power from belief.

      1. The Monster Hunter and Laundry settings also feature the “belief makes eldritch things powerful” trait, and both have government organizations that are tasked with making sure that as few people as possible know about those eldritch things.

        1. Which I find interesting since my experience is more the opposite. DISBELIEF gives them more access because you’re not defending yourself. Aethists had three times the suicide rate of any other faith. And it wasn’t just having nothing supernatural to reach for when the natural got overwhelming.

            1. Indeed. Though I think, with the rise of neo-paganism we’re likely to see more of the ‘believing too much’ side again. Accompanied with a ‘but it’s not REALLY evil…’ rationalizations.

              1. Chicken and egg on the “not REALLY evil” one, but yeah.

                You probably already know about the drug gangs re-introducing some of the “charming” aspects of Aztec worship in their pop-paganism; it seems to be leaking.

                  1. Kratman’s Terra Nova, for one. Some days the Castros get to sacrifice humans on the alter of peace in Rome, and some days it is someone else’s turn.

    3. I forget the theory about when the quantity of believers in something reach a certain level, what they believe in start to become reality. Which really sounds like a nightmare scenario of Progressivism.

    4. C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy actually deals with this in a somewhat science fictional setting. Basically, the world these colonists landed on is very receptive and interacts with people in such a way that the colony was almost wiped out in a matter of weeks before someone figured out a method of limiting that interaction. As it is, thousands of years past that original time, people still die from vampires or other nasties that they’ve conjured up.

      1. Christopher Stashef’s Gramayre series achieves much the same with his introduction of Witchmoss, the psychoreactive fungus which is shaped by human projection.

  9. Jeezus.

    I’ve always – for as long as I can remember (middle of my 6th decade now) – thought exactly this. Concepts & terminology.

    I’ve never talked about it with anyone. Ever.

    I always figured it was just too weird to discuss. “Over active imagination”. One of those things you just keep inside so people won’t know you’re crazy as all get out.


    Maybe not.

    How very interesting.

  10. Why, thank you Sarah for such an upbeat start to the week.  I started to think of my places and realized that I am a very fortunate person.

  11. Don’t know if spirits of place are real or not. While there are places that seem to induce odd feelings; whether they are real or imagined, I have no idea. I’ve never been very inclined to open myself up to trying to meditate on them or “feel” them; perhaps due to a Catholic upbringing where all such ideas were false, or the work of evil. (Strange isn’t it? If they are the work of evil (or good, or merely indifferent), then they’re not false, but real. If they’re false, unreal, then their goodness or evilness is irrelevant.) I suppose you could equally attribute that reluctance to the myriad of horror stories and movies out there. Opening yourself up to unknown, invisible spirits (or even visible ones for that matter) usually doesn’t end well. Eh, Dr. Faust?

    1. Not one for horror. Occasionally a book sneaks in that is mystery/adventure + horror. One book, when the movie was previewed, told hubby, no way are we seeing it. He asked why – “because the book scared the c*$p out of me”.

    2. I’m definitely of the opinion that while most of this almost certainly isn’t real, there’s no reason to mess with it. My attitude towards “haunted” place is similar to my attitude towards the underpass that had two shadowy guys loitering under it: it’s almost certainly fine, but unless I have an important reason I need to be there, I’ll listen to my instincts and avoid it.

    3. What we perceive something to be could be false if something else is behind it. It’s why a great uncle went ghost busting with a loaded rifle – he figured it wasn’t a real “haint”. For that matter, I think the presence of a loaded firearm would cut down the number of such occurrences, though it may take a couple of shots first.

      1. For that matter, I find it interesting that some unexplained phenomena can be labeled a haint simply by association. For instance, someone sees a will-o-the-wisp and declares it to be the ghost of so-and-so. Why assume that? My mother’s mother grew up beside a place reputed to be haunted, but they said all they saw was a light and figured it had to be something natural.

        OTOH, I know of an instance where a family was gathered while the elderly matron was dying, and the children playing outside looked toward the old home place and saw a man in gray with a lady in a swing. They ran inside to get the grown-ups, and found everyone crying. Their grandmother had just died. When they looked back at the old home place, the man, the woman, and the swing were gone. Later they learned that their grandfather had courted their grandmother when he was in the Confederate army and would visit when he could in his uniform. And they would often go out to the swing.

    4. I have long thought that the Shinto religion is onto something. I have been bitten by too many ‘inanimate’ objects to be sure that matter is not inhabited by spirit. That being the case, it doesn’t cost much to try to be polite and appreciative.

    5. I’ve never been very inclined to open myself up to trying to meditate on them or “feel” them; perhaps due to a Catholic upbringing where all such ideas were false, or the work of evil.

      Maybe it’s just being sensible?

      I mean, seriously– who hears something in the middle of the night, gets up in their boxers, walks down stairs and out the door, in the dark, saying “hey, I thought I heard something? Anybody here?”

      1. “That’s the uniform for suspicious noises; underwear and a baseball bat. I don’t know what I’m hoping to find. Somebody in his underwear with a ball?”

        Jeff Foxworthy

        Me, I’m going in my PJs with a katana.

        1. I sleep in basically workout clothes, throw an ugly house-coat on (really, it’s IMPRESSIVELY ugly), and I take a 38 revolver and a stick.

          Throw the stick so I have time to take good aim without pointing the gun at something I don’t want to kill.

          1. As I’ve mentioned, I have no guns. I’m OK with unpowered blades. Yes, I suppose you could do yourself dredful injury with one, but with no motive power but hand or gravity there seems to be a limit to the damage that could reasonably be expected. Not gonna take after somebody with a chainsaw. It’s awkward, and if it hits you it’ll just keep going.

            Yes, I know about safety interlocks. No, I don’t trust ‘em.

            1. Honestly, if I wasn’t worried about drugged-up guys, I’d probably go with a blade. They’re *scarier*.

              But I’m not big enough to remove a limb with a blade, so I’ll stick with hoping to put actual holes into the bad guy and disable him that way.

              The one time I had to sprint up the stairs because THERE WERE FOOTSTEPS IN THE BABY’S ROOM AND I WAS THE ONLY ONE HOME, I grabbed my husband’s broad sword. Glorified baseball bat with a pointy tip, but it would’ve worked.
              (turns out when they built the townhouse we lived in, they had a poorly secured board that went from a corner of a room the lady next door never used, into our daughter’s room, so the one time the gal DID go in there, and step on it, it made footsteps in our daughter’s room.)

              1. You want a rapier. They were primarily made to poke holes in people, not hack them apart. You could hack with them, but you wouldn’t want to hit anything substantial and break your sword. Banging against another rapier was about all they could handle.

                1. Pretty sure that would just annoy the guys who are high on the sort of thing that makes them ignore broken legs unless the bone flops over and refuses to hold them, and such.

                  And me playing Zorro is just not intimidating. 😀

                  1. “Pretty sure that would just annoy the guys who are high…”

                    Pin them to the wall. Through the head. It’ll give you a head start. >:D Bwaha!

                  2. Fox, I’ve fenced some itty bitty women and teenage girls who intimidate the hell out of me when they get a sword in their hands on the strip; and I’m 5’11”, 205 pounds, and look like I shot put granite rocks all day.

                    1. Depends what the guys are high on. Back when I was doing reserve police work for a small Indian rez, the police chief instructed us that certain illicit drugs made ’em so high, looped, and pain-free that they could be bleeding out and wouldn’t know it. They’d still keep coming at you, until they finally fell over dead.

                      So…yeah. If poking a hole with hot lead isn’t gonna stop ’em, poking a hole with a sharp metal stick ain’t gonna do it, either.

                    2. YOU, at the very least habitually, have decent sense.

                      Example one: you’re not doing breaking and entering in the first place!

                      Even if I were capable of being scary to you with a sword– do I want to bet my life on the good sense of the kind of people I need to maim to stop?

                    3. Well, If I were going to be into the breaking and entering business, I’d be sure to do it when the residents weren’t home. And I’d either bring plenty of meat with sleepies in it for the canine guard units, or pick a less defended abode.

                      Certainly not going to crash the place like Athena raiding her Dad’s. 😉

          1. If the objective is to scare the intruder into flight, compare and contrast the impact of “dude in sweats with a flashlight and maybe something else in his other hand” and “naked dude shouting and waving around a big freaking sword”.

      2. I don’t wear boxers, and even an oversized, multi-named, kzinti warrior would find me to be a rather lethal ape in my own dwelling.

    6. I’ve avoided horror lit and movies for that very same reason. There are things that I just DO NOT WANT to let into my imagination,
      Had nightmares for years, over seeing the old black & white version of the Fall of the House of Usher, during a sleepover at a friends’ house when I was about seven or eight. No. Don’t want that stuff in my head.

        1. Me three.

          I wrote a semi-paranormal-horror novellette once, and it took me six months before I was comfortable walking around my own house at night with the lights out.

          See, the trick was, it was based on a true story that an online friend told me happened TO HIM. I used that as the core of the tale and embellished on it. I think if it had actually been written from scratch, not based on anything, it wouldn’t have had the same effect on me.

      1. Salem’s Lot was the worst horror I read. Even Lovecraft didn’t give me the collywobbles King did with that one. Of course I was a teenager then too.
        As for film, Prince of Darkness scared the crap out of me. John Carpenter at his best, or worst, depending on your point of view.

        1. I just read Salem’s Lot for the first time. It would have terrified me as a kid, but as an adult, I kept getting annoyed at people being stupid – everyone splitting up, waiting until nearly sunset before they go into the vampire house Every Time, even forgetting to bring their crosses.

      2. I saw the last few minutes of an early episode of Law and Order; Rapey Stories Series Special Victims Unit. The scene creeped me out (live victim kept in a box under a bed, but rescued Just In Time) enough that I never watched another minute of that show. Hmm, with all the Hollyweird stories hitting the news, I don’t want to know where they get their inspiration.

      3. I agree. Horror lit sucks because the people die.

        I like it when the people win. Monster comes, monster attacks, monster get ran the hell over by something MUCH bigger and meaner than it is. Like my diesel pickup, or Gudrun the Valkyrie. See above for details.

      4. I actually like some horror, but I prefer the purely supernatural when possible. Sort of “it can’t possibly be real” method. I’ve also read up on serial killers. Not sure what the impulse is there, except for “forewarned is forearmed.” And definitely a love for dark fantasy.

        Nothing too realistic about kids, though. And definitely no jump scares (so movies are usually out, though atmospheric horror like The Others is fine.) I could do those before having kids, now not so much. The Torchwood series Children of Earth was pretty traumatizing, not because of the aliens but because of the governments.

        1. I was aware of serial killers and child molesters far earlier than I had any awareness of homosexuals being a thing. Definitely forewarned is forearmed.

          1. Well, when I was a kid we had a little old lady boarder killing off her tenants and burying them in the backyard. National news. So I was definitely aware of that. And there were stories around the time I was born of the killer who lived only a mile away, nasty guy. I’ve looked him up since and I know which apartment complex he lived in. Not to mention a spree killer when I was in junior high that was operating in my neighborhood. So yeah, aware from a young age.

        2. They hit the “psychology” button for me– I know they’re real, people have studied how their heads work a LOT, so it’s interesting to try to figure out how they work, same way that psychology is fascinating when applied to not-freaking-dangerous folks.

      5. I used to watch a BBC sci-fi/fantasy series called “The Third Eye.” Two story-series in particular totally creeped me out. One was about a village trapped in a time pattern, where people turned to stone every few generations and only two escaped. The pattern had gone back to the Neolithic, and the outsiders (father and son) could see it happening, as did the audience. It was really well done, at least as far as I could tell, and scared me spitless.

      6. I started deliberately avoiding horror after a book left me so scared of the dark that I slept with a night light for a decade.

        Then I read and enjoyed Drake’s Redliners and other things, so I’ve moved back into that direction.

      7. As far as horror films, I’m the last one you want to take with you. Unless you want it ruined, of course. I tended to critique technique- i.e., you can still see the tube to the balloon that’s making that fake heart pump in his hand, no way *that* skull belonged to *that* girl (suspected murder victim), not with those supraorbital ridges, etc.

        I used to do haunted ‘X’ things- you know the haunted houses and suchlike that spring up around Haloween? Those. Got roped into it by a friend, of course. The makeup, the scene-setting, the prop-making, training the actors, setting the rules for both actors and audience/customers, and so on. Even worked the show for several years.

        My usual job was making things creepier. I never showed up in costume or makeup. Just work clothes and the occasional tool belt. I did emergency prop maintenance sometimes. As customers walked through, there were pre-planned pause points. You hold this group up a bit to give the screaming girl in the group ahead time to get back in her spot, time for the drunk dude to get escorted off the route, time for the panicked teenager to recover his composure, etc. So I told stories.

        Pure invention at the drop of the hat. “We only have two rules in the catacombs. Simple, really. Surprising hard to get absolutely *everyone* to follow them, though.

        “It’s a maze, you see. It changes every night (and yes, it really did, and yes, it was a ginormous pain in the rear). It’s mostly harmless. Or so I’ve been told, anyway- *I’ve* never had any trouble with it. That’s the first rule- don’t get lost. The twists and turns are finite. You will eventually get out, if you work at it…”

        And it was a timed event. Ten minute maze. No matter how scared, stoned, or drunk you were, you could get out in ten. Even if we had to *push,* metaphorically speaking.

        “The second rule is also simple. So simple I hesitate to even call it that, but, ah! The management makes the rules, and I just follow them. The second rule is- keep breathing.” Drop voice lower here. It tends to effect people, what with the setting and all.

        “Keep. Breathing. For if you are not breathing, then you are dead…” Mournful, here. “And that means… you are OURS. We will nail you to a wall, pluck out your entrails, stick your head on a spike, oh, we’ll have a wonderful time, indeed. Do you have any idea how many people get *lost* in places like this, every year? Shocking. Shocking, I tell you. You do recall the waiver you signed?” Real deal, that. Serious-sounding, now. “At. Your. Own. Risk.” Back to the brighter voice. “But it’s a small risk, after all. Tiny. Infinitesimal, even. But if you do not wish to *take* the risk…”

        Or things to that effect. Once folks paid, there was a no-refunds policy. If you were too scared to keep on, that was your choice. Adults were fair game, we totally ignored the kids unless they looked like they were having fun. Looking scared? Well, some of us made ’em laugh instead. Kids are sacred during the show, nobody messed with them.

        The creepy places thing, hrm. I’ve been to the wall, and yes, it has that effect. Gettysburg, and so on. The de-consecrated church where I learned to dance with my friend Sara, that place wasn’t nearly *de*consecrated enough (still felt still and calm, even with music going and people thumping around the dance floor). Have been to a few supposed haunted places, no effect. Some places, old battlefields, some historical places… just feel watchful. Weighty. Perhaps that is only in my mind. But then, *I* am real, so what is within me holds some substance as well, I would argue.

  12. I’ve been reading a fair amount of Agatha Christie recently, and this is a trope that she uses over and over again. “The Idol House of Astarte,” “Peril at End House,” and several others whose names I can’t remember right now, make use of the idea that certain places are just wrong. No one knows of any specific evil events that happen before the story in the Grove of Astarte or End House, but those who go to those places just have an instinctive sense that there’s something that isn’t quite right.

    And yes, I know that it’s fiction, but it’s not fantasy or horror–it’s something that Christie wanted her audience to believe could happen in 20th Century England. Thus, she must have believed that her audience wouldn’t have any trouble accepting the idea of a place saturated with good or evil.

    1. I think that was a fairly common meme around the time Dame Agatha commenced her career. Such authors as A. Merritt, ERB, and the gang at Weird Tales seemed fond of it, too. I confess it has been quite some time since I read many works conceived in that era.

      1. One could argue that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a send-up of the spook-tales popular at the time, even though Conan Doyle himself evidently believed in spiritualist rigmarole.

        1. Oh, there’s not a great deal of arguing to be done. The Hound of the Baskervilles is a cu sidhe, a fae dog, and in the particular area of the country where the story is set (and which he was visiting along about the time he got the idea for the story, though there are evidently two different manor houses claiming the honor of origination), it is a matter of Celtic lore and legend.

        2. Rationally speaking, why shouldn’t he believe in spiritualism?

          Hadn’t been fully tested– Houdini believed, too, and he was a HUGE debunker, because he was good at figuring out what would screw people over.

          It’s like believing in cash, but also believing in counterfeits.

  13. I find hushed places are memorials. At least to me. I have no place of power, no forbidden dark places. These concepts though have been described to me by others.

      1. Been to a few of those. Including the no-longer in existence Prairie Dells dam in Lincoln Co. WI. A case of a misplaced decimal not getting caught… the reservoir filled, the gates opened… and reservoir drained quickly. The dam was left for decades, and it was something of a fishing spot. Eventually it was determined it had to be removed before it fell apart – and turned out to be a lot sturdier than some said, and lasted for years in a really ugly V-notch state before final removal. There are claims the fishing is better now – and counter claims about it.

    1. Clearly you need to visit Idaho and tour EBR1. Then you can add reactor to your list.

      EBR1 has a feel much like an ICU: even (especially?) dust wouldn’t dare get out of place in it.

    2. Well … I’ve been inside the containment structure of a nuclear reactor. Of course, it was under construction at the time, so it wasn’t like we were near anything hot.

      1. Haven’t been in such a place as that, though I did visit Fermilab during the Tevatron construction and so the tour showed a bit more than what would normally be seen.

        1. It was a tour of a plant under construction. There were two from our company. In the first, it was just grunts like myself. I went on the second, which was mostly the wheels and just a few of us grunts. They fed cold cut sandwiches to the first group. The second got a full meal. Learned something important that day.

  14. if you find a place in a highly populated area and no one has built on it for centuries, don’t

    Yep– another format of “Chesterton’s Fence.” If nobody has done an obvious thing, there might be a reason. Try to figure it out before you find out by making a mistake!

    My “make me feel better” places are usually ones that had a lot of love put into them– walking past folks’ gardens, some churches, good book stores (you know, the ones that aren’t totally computer based), some gaming stores.

    Most of the ones that I don’t like have obvious reasons– too many hiding places, poor circulation/floorplan, etc, which can be summed up as “oppressive.”

  15. There are places I’ve felt positive or negative “vibes”, and a few sites where I did not, perhaps because I didn’t let myself relax to sense the place. Kalkreise Battlefield in Germany (aka the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest) made my skin crawl and I just knew that something had happened there that was Not Nice. If you know anything about military terrain use, you can see that it is a choke point, and add a trail that dates back probably to the late Stone Ages, and it’s easy to guess that something, or several somethings, may have occurred in the immediate area. I’m told that Culloden is as strong, or worse. So much desperation, hatred, and despair, perhaps?

    Parts of the area where the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War/War Between the States took occurred also gave me the creeps. And a few other spots, including of all things St. Barbara’s Church in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. I don’t know why, but the church felt cold in a spiritual as well as a physical sense. The longer I was there, the twitchier and less comfortable I got.

    I’ve wondered if really strong emotions can imprint into places, especially over long periods of time. Kalkreise is not only a battlefield, but was the edge of a large and dangerous swamp where people left offerings long before and after the battle. Kutna Hora has mines underneath it. Even if precise memories of what happened where may fade, the general “mood” of the place might linger through generations – no one knows why This is a good place and That lovely meadow is avoided, but everyone does.

    1. Somewhere in here belongs my disdain for the classic conundrum “If a tree falls in the forest, amd there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a noise?”

      Of course it makes a noise. A forest may be empty of human beings, but at the very peast it must be full of trees, and we know that plants react to sound.

      Now, take that further; everywhere people describe as serene or haunted or possessing some other ‘vibe’ is highly likely to he full of life. And most life notices.

    2. I will never willingly go to the gas chamber of Auschwitz. I may not be sensitive, but I’m no fool, and see no sense in going where others can still feel the screams. There is nothing good that happened there, nothing good that will come of me going.

      Peter reports that in South Africa, if you are in the middle of nowhere and the hair raises up on the back of your neck – and not in a hunted way, but a hallowed ground sort of way – then look to the top of the nearest hill. If you find a pile of stones, you know it is a peace hill.

      That is, a hill where two tribes gathered to make an end to a blood feud. They all dress in their best, and gather in two lines facing each other after a pit has been dug in the middle, while the Elders and Sangomas (witch doctors) wait. One warrior, fully blooded, from each tribe must willingly come forward, and clasp his the willing enemy tribe’s warrior in the pit, and hold tight to each other as they are buried alive. The stones rolled on top mark this as hallowed ground, where generations of bloodfeud are put to rest by the sacrifice.

      When it comes to the stones themselves crying out the sacred, or the horror, consider this: it is only in the last few hundred years that we have become so enamored of the scientific method as a rational way to explain how the world works… and like any enthusiastic young man or new culture, we race to apply our new learning to everything. To a man with only a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But time and again, we prove our own theories wrong: the universe is not limited to running according to our current understanding of it, and the limits of our ability to detect and measure something repeatedly is not the same as the limits of the universe’s ability to contain, create, and destroy.

      It is very tempting to say “We can’t measure ghosts or command them to appear on a regular, provable basis, therefore they don’t exist.” Heck, I’ve known a maintenance crew that had the same approach to intermittent electrical faults, darn their eyes.

      But just as sailors and airline pilots knew about the green flash for decades before the first one was ever caught on film, and just as sailors were quite well aware that rogue waves existed centuries before scientists actually measured them and admitted they were real – the ability of our instruments to measure hallowed and unhallowed ground does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

      1. On the one hand I completely sympathize about the gass chamber. OTOH, if vengeful ghosts were a thing, the first postwar German Chancellor who set foot in the place would have been pulled under the earth by skeletal hands.

        1. You’d think, yes. Maybe, maybe not. By what power can we determine whether a soul will leave a vengeful ghost? Would the sheer evil of a place overwhelm a spirit’s capability for revenge? Were all the souls gathered up by a just and caring G-d, and only the residue of the horror and evil of their slaughter remained?

          Given we cannot measure holiness or evil, cannot weigh it or record the temperature when it burns, these are questions I don’t have answers for.

          1. Add to that the question are the things we identify as ‘ghosts’ actually ghosts or simply something else drawn by the horror and evil and simply assuming the expected identity of the dead like a cloak?

            1. There is Biblical support for that, after all– and long traditions of benevolent apparitions, too.

              What’s that instruction, test everything, keep what is good?

                1. *giggles* Oh, goodness, yes– the only person who didn’t flip when they met an angel that wasn’t in disguise was a rather singular lady!

            2. I like that idea. I’ve always found the idea of people being trapped forever as ghosts horrible. But something not-people manifesting looking like people? That fits the evidence and doesn’t leave people/souls trapped.

        1. Well, “a pint’s a pound the world round”, and there’s 2 cups in a pint so two cups in a pound. 😉
          I asked google the second one and got this:
          1 lumens per US gallon = 264.172052 cd / m3
          Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by natural law…

      2. I toured Dachau in the fall of ’89, while TDY in Munich during my Army hitch. Yeah, there are some places that are haunted, and Dachau is one of them. I’ll leave it at that.

        1. Made the same pilgrimage, while I was over there.

          The thing that’s interesting to contemplate is this: How much of what we felt, during our visits, did we feel because we knew what happened there, going in?

          I’ve got a friend of mine who was your typical blithering oblivious dunderheaded teenager, dragged to Dachau as a part of her USAEUR DODDS education. She had no idea before she went, having just arrived in Germany literally the week of the tour, and missing all the preparatory class work. During the tour, she felt nothing, and knew nothing of the significance of what she was seeing. It was just a collection of old buildings, to her–At that moment. She went, she saw, it meant nothing to her.

          When Schindler’s List came out, she was a young enlisted person working in my unit. She went to see the movie, and it was only then that she connected A with B, and had a sudden recognition of just where the hell she’d been, as a kid. None of the “portentousness of it all” had connected then, at all, and that really bothered her as a twenty-something soon-to-be-mother.

          So, the question is, what component of all this “hauntedness” of historic sites is due to our knowing something bad happened there? How long does that effect last, if it’s real? Is there something like a half-life, for hauntedness?

          I’d love to know what impressions the archaeologists and paleontologists picked up at the various massacre sites they have worked, over the years. I know the guys who’ve been up in the New Mexican mountains have some interesting stories about the Anasazi massacre sites where they’ve found human-digested human remains in the coprolites, but what about that site in Kenya, where they found the family unit that looked like it had been killed and eaten? If I remember rightly, they didn’t put the whole story together until they were in the lab, so what did they feel on-site, digging up those remains?

          1. The knowledge of what happened may make a difference. Driving the old Lincoln Highway over Seminary Ridge, I may feel something because I know of the fighting that went on at Gettysburg. Setting may also play a factor – the big section of the Berlin Wall at the USAF museum gives me the creeps, but other sections of it I’ve seen, or the small piece of it I had, did not. On the other hand, I’ve gotten those same creepy feelings for no discernible reason.

            I far prefer the places that fill me with awe. Whether artificial or natural, they tend to be sweeping vistas. Many Parks Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park, the view of Manhattan from the Palisades, gazing into the Grand Canyon, staring up in a cathedral, gazing out into the sea, or looking about the main hall of a grand railroad station.

            1. There is a theory that the walls of reality are thinner where great events occur. Such a theme was explored in the first ever episode of The Twilight Zone which I recall seeing: The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms.

              “June twenty-fifth 1964—or, if you prefer, June twenty-fifth 1876. The cast of characters in order of their appearance: a patrol of General Custer’s cavalry and a patrol of National Guardsmen on a maneuver. Past and present are about to collide head-on, as they are wont to do in a very special bivouac area known as….the Twilight Zone.”

          2. Well, I can induce the “there is something WRONG with that alley” feeling while at home by watching a scary show, so we know a similar reaction CAN be induced (of course, I can induce flu-like symptoms by spinning around too much or eating the wrong stuff, so that just tells me it CAN be induced), and several folks here have mentioned that they don’t feel stuff– so I would guess people who tend to react strongly to Bad Places tend to not be involved in that aspect of archeology. It’d be like having a carpenter who’s allergic to pine.

            It’s also possible that those cannibalizations simply didn’t have the same result, for whatever reason– including things like “they didn’t die there.”

            1. Exactly. Somewhat sensitive to other people’s emotions; depending on emotion, reaction varies, ex: violence does not cause violence, but can sense it coming on (resulting in positioning that when it erupts … “gotta go/I’m out of here” … unless I’m the one that has to deal with it, then will head it off if possible, if not, results vary). That said. Chose careers that kept me away from people day to day. Forestry then finally computers for 35 years. Last position the other employees were extreme introverts. I am not. I just need regular timeouts as I get overwhelmed, so the company was both good (not overwhelming because no regular interaction) and bad; I need SOME interaction.

        2. Buchenwald, for me. A profound sense of loss – it actually overwhelmed the feeling of evil. It still kindled anger within me, though.

      3. I don’t remember it very well but Mom said that when we visited Dachau, what she felt was an overwhelming sadness more than anything else.

    3. At college there was the Testing Center. It was the building where everyone went to take the tests assigned by the profs. It was an enormous room full of desks with folks wandering slowly around to ensure that people were abiding by the rules of their particular tests.

      I have never been in a place so drenched in fear and anxiety. I hated going there and avoided it when I could.

      1. The joke at BYU was that the Testing Center was the most holy place on the campus due to all of the praying that took place there.

  16. When I was young and gullible, me and my parents briefly stopped in the creepiest stretch of forest in British Columbia. Tall, skeletal trees draped with moss, fog, dangerous-looking ground all about. My parents on the spot made up a story about the Bogman, who supposedly haunted those woods.

    I lost a lot of sleep that night over the Bogman.

    1. One of the early proto-stories that never got farther than a few scenes involved a meteorite with psychotropic properties. It could “bring to life” impressions and memories. And it got turned into the Eagle of the IXth Legion. Yeaaaaahhhhh. Bad juju.

      Rada Ni Drako had a mess trying to figure out what it was and why it was such bad news. She ended up dumping it into a star.

  17. Once long ago I climbed Te Matua Ngahere, the chief of the forest, and spent a tripped-out evening in the upper branches. I don’t have any words about that. That was the thing I was looking for, unmediated experience. I’m still glad I did it.

  18. One place I’ve been that felt bad was the New York street where all the grindhouse movie theatres used to be (42nd? Google is being unhelpful, and street names aren’t a strength). This was when home video had hit but before the New York renaissance. All those theatres were dead, Dead, DEAD. Empty marquees as far as you’dmcare to look. Well, so,ebody was,doing powetry on ‘em, but they weren’t full of titles, they way they should have been. The whole area felt sad and dead, like a scene from a post-apocalyptic story.

    It’s better now. Some.

    1. There’s a local mall that has been dying for some time. It got a major renovation when I was at college and I’d never been inside. Then the SPCA had their annual booksale in one of the abandoned storefronts, so I went in—and realized that I had dreamed that damned empty, abandoned mall’s floorplan. That was the creepy part, that I recognized somewhere I had never been.

  19. I found the Cullodon battlefield an uneasy place but I told myself that’s because I knew what had happened there. An oddity that happened on Skye is harder to explain away and it bothers me precisely because I can’t explain it. I saw a standing stone near the road and decided to stop and take a picture of it up close. I started to pull over to park and then the next thing I remember is driving away while watching my rear view mirror anxiously. And I am not generally sensitive about the atmosphere of a place.

    1. My grandmother had a similar reaction to a lady who was having some sort of car trouble on the side of the road– but when she looked into her rear view mirror, it was to see two or three very large guys with knives trying to catch up to her accelerating vehicle.

      1. There is a very prosaic explanation: a common MO of car-jackers is to use a “female in distress” as bait.
        I once attended a talk to our women’s group by a Utah LEO (female). She recounted a number of stories about women who failed to heed their warning feelings and were assaulted; or did, and were not. She was quite firm about listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit (as we called it), and that the warnings weren’t dependent on religious affiliation at all.

        1. Heed the tale of Jinkson Johnson:

          Johnson he was riding along, as fast as he could ride,
          When he thought he heard a woman, he heard a woman cry.

          Johnson getting off his horse, and searching the woods all around,
          Until he came to a woman with her hair pinned to the ground.

          “Woman, dearest woman, who brought you here for to stand?”
          Who that brought you here this morning, with your hair pinned to the ground?”

          “It were three bold and struggling men, with swords keen in hand,
          Who that brought me here this morning, with my hair pinned to the ground.”

          Johnson being a man of his own, and being a man and bold,
          He pulled off his overcoat to hug her from the cold.

          Johnson getting on his horse, and the woman getting on behind,
          Down this lonesome highway rode, fortunes for to find.

          They were riding all along, as fast as they could ride,
          She threw her fingers to her ears, and gave three shivering cries.

          Out sprung three bold and struggling men, with swords keen in hand,
          Who that commanded Johnson, commanded him to stand.

          “I’ll stop, stand,” said Johnson, “I’ll stop, stand,” says he,
          “For I never were in all my life afraid of any three.”

          Johnson killing two of them, not watching the woman behind,
          While he’s at the other one, she stabbed him from behind.

          The day was free and a market day, and the people all passing by,
          Who that saw this awful murder, and saw poor Johnson die.

        2. Granny didn’t know that, thought. She was scandalizing her family by driving alone anyways– mostly mentioned it as an example where following the “funny feeling” had an obvious, direct and verified result, in an almost the same situation.

          Body language is possibly a reason for the attempted carjacking avoidance– but if that were so, why does it ever work? Granny wore coke-bottom glasses and had all the emotional sensitivity of…well, me.

          1. Before the kids came along, my wife and I got into a severe thunderstorm on the road. I pulled off, and was looking at the only safe place of refuge, the ditches, fill with water (it was that rough) when I had the feeling LEAVE NOW! I told my wife I thought we’d be safer on the road, and here we went. Thought I’d made a fatal mistake a couple of times, but no real problems.

            The next day, on the way back, we saw a big pine tree laying right where we had parked.

            Yeah, those feelings happen.

            1. I’ve learned the hard way when something (or Someone) inside me says “Don’t go that route.” or “Wait until tomorrow,” or the like, I really need to heed the warning. There’s a reason for the warning.

  20. I don’t have a particular place, really, but a time and place and activity that spooked me.

    Any other day of any other year I would not have been the least bit concerned about an evening children’s parade associated with the Christmas season. I didn’t even know exactly what the story behind the event was. It wasn’t called a St Nicholas parade, but was clearly something similar. We had been living in Germany on the northern Rhine for just a few months and didn’t really know anyone to ask about such things.

    My step-daughter had just turned ten and was walking with her class-mates. I was tagging along pushing her baby sister, my daughter, in a stroller. There were other adults, some carrying candle lanterns that were only vaguely reminiscent of torches. Like I say, my German was pretty limited and I didn’t know anyone well enough to ask awkward questions anyway. But, I found it awfully spooky to be parading through the streets with a bunch of Germans carrying torches.

    Any other day of any other year, it would have meant nothing to me. This day, however, was November 10, 1988, the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht.

    1. St. Martin’s Eve. Supposed to be a happy time. You dress up in costumes and/or carry lanterns in the procession, you eat harvest food and fat geese and apples, and you give alms to the poor. And there is a guy on a horse dressed up as a bishop or Roman officer.

      Of course, it was also the day before Armistice Day. So presumably Kristallnacht was a sore loser event, blaming it all on the Joooooos.

  21. In Jewish Kabbalistic lore, acts of goodness draw the Shekinah (indwelling presence of God) closer to a place, and acts of evil drive her (Hebrew lacks a neuter gender) away. I could imagine that death camps were such concentrations of evil that the Shekinah has been driven very far from the area, and it will take a great deal of time and effort to repair the breach.

    Feel free to use the idea in fiction. Maybe someday I will.

    1. People under under stress emit hormonal stench, those undergoing terrifying, agonizing deaths surely emit more. Is it improbable that such scent might become embedded within the very molecular structure of a place? While it likely remains below conscious awareness it does not seem impossible visitors might yet become aware, even if only subconsciously.

      1. Then, in theory, someone with a stuffy nose shouldn’t pick it up. Come to think of it, has anyone done a study of whether people who find it difficult to pick up social clues tend to have stuffy noses? And no, I’m not being “cute.”

        1. I am not sure — stuffy noses may not matter for picking up on such subliminal scents; I don’t think they matter with pheromones.

  22. Daniel 10:7: “I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, and the men with me”—tradition identifies them as the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi—“did not see it; but a panic fell upon them and they fled and hid.” The Talmud (Megilla 3a) quotes this and suggests that if one feels a sudden fear without a visible cause, get out of there even if only by a few steps.

  23. Mass deaths psychicly damage places. But in the galactic ether. Most such spiritual bruises are in interstellar space by now. Reference frame is everything. 😉

    1. “That’s the fastest route.”
      “But.. do we really want to go through… this spot?”
      “No, but still it’s for not even a second we’ll be there.”
      “Ugh.. I’ve been though there once. I’d use a full gram of antimatter to avoid doing it again. Effects linger there.. and it took a week to recover. Whatever happen there.. whenever it did.. was Not Good.”
      “It’s just empty space.”
      “Ever wonder.. why is it THAT empty?”

  24. Cemeteries, death camps, old churches and battlefields have an energy that is either calming or disturbing.

    The most freaky town I have ever visited was Glastonbury, England – I visited there numerous times and never failed to be startled. It is where druids would have fled when Romans arrived, Arthur and Guinevere supposedly buried in Abbey and lots of main ley lines intersect there. I don’t know how to describe energy that I felt at Glastonbury, it was not evil or calming, but more ethereal.

  25. One of Dr. Mengele’s labs in Berlin, next to the bridge the Soviets crossed to enter the city. Still, quiet, no birds, no insect noises. We watched birds fly around it.

  26. Culloden. (Rather not elaborate.)

    Walking above York on the medieval walls. Could imagine their defiance in support of Richard III in face of the Henry Tutor’s usual behavior when obstructed.

    Cathedral of our Lady of the Roses in Mexico City – we actually FELT the faith imbedded in the stones in a way never felt before or since in any other place of worship.

    Of all castles, as an Anglophile, expected to find favorite in England, instead loved Sterling in Scotland of all places (have no Scots blood am aware of. Probably was a scullery maid. Why are others always Lords and Ladies?)

    Not sure believe in reincarnation but do believe that places can be imbued with good or evil and that sometimes we can sense them. Agree that never want to visit Dachau or Auschwitz. Delphi, on the other hand, might be good to visit as humans seem to have found spiritual needs there for eons.

    Have not found any local places other than home which are energy chargers for me. Wish I had.

    1. Stirling is good – lovely railway station back in the day when my brother and sister and I passed through. Delphi was another place where the daughter-unit and I felt nothing but … calm and serenity. I even drank from the Kastalia spring, which is supposed to grant poetic powers from those who drink from it. (Even if another tourist did observe that at least, a howling case of dysentery was to be gained thereby.) I am said to have poetic powers now, although I am not certain if I had them even before drinking from the spring…

    2. Given my current proclivities, I figure I was the stable hand who slathered goose grease on the axles of the chariots before battle and dug the arrowheads out of the bulkheads afterwards.

  27. Mount Makiling has a lot of myths surrounding it, and stories include stepping out into a different world, into the kingdom of fairies, people vanishing and returning decades later, a la Rip Van Wrinkle, UFO sightings, and such. My mom says that we stopped by at the foot of the mountain once (to eat) when I was very small, and I said “Look at all the fairies!” The whole family was so disturbed by this they refused to let go of me, hurried up on the meal and booked it out of there.

    We stopped by once again on the way back from my mother’s home province, and she recounted the story. I didn’t believe, noting that there were lots and lots of beautiful butterflies fluttering about. My mom said “That day, there were no butterflies at all.” Our maid, who had been on the first trip with us, kept a tight hold on my youngest brother. She said it was so they (the fae) wouldn’t steal him away, and kept admonishing me to not go exploring away from the picnic grounds.

    The other strange thing was, I apparently found the mountain cool and soothing; everyone else said that it was humid that day.

    1. I love Joy Chant’s book about Arthur, even though it’s non-fiction (as much as legend can be non-fiction, I suppose).
      “The High Kings (1983), illustrated by George Sharp, designed by David Larkin and edited by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is a reference work on the King Arthur legends[3] and the Matter of Britain, incorporating retellings of the legends.”

      A great fiction series is that of Parke Godwin.
      “Godwin is known for his novels of legendary figures placed in realistic historical settings, written in a lyrical yet precise prose style and sardonic humor. His retelling of the Arthur legend, Firelord in 1980, Beloved Exile in 1984 and The Last Rainbow in 1985, is set in the 5th century during the collapse of the Roman empire, and his reinterpretation of Robin Hood (Sherwood, 1991, and Robin and the King, 1993) takes place during the Norman conquest and features kings William the Conqueror and William Rufus as major characters.”

  28. It’s people that sometimes give me the willies. Not really sensitive to places, never bothered by ghosts.

    But of course there are particularly blessed places. And those are good places to be.

  29. A lot of my places of power are gone, or have changed too much – so many of my favorite odd shops and such haven’t survived the recent recessions. I’d need to be like Terry Pratchett’s dotty old lady in the Johnny books and visit a time as well as a place – she talked about visiting that nice nurse inf 1942,

    OTOH, I just put up all my Christmas decorations for the first time in many years, some of which go back to my childhood, and that’s been kind of the same thing.

  30. Clava Cairns, Scotland. On a chilly misty early-September morning. The classic “this is a place where magic is possible” reaction… followed after a moment by the remembrance that not all magic is nice.

    See also Star Island, Isles of Shoals: site of an old (as in, 1600s) fishing village complete with church and (heavily overgrown) graveyard. Walking the paths through the old graveyard, I rather suddenly got the feeling that the living are not exactly welcome there.

    1. The Acropolis in Athens – while the Parthenon is pretty impressive, the place I was drawn to most was the Erechtheum. There’s supposed to be the original sacred spring under there, so maybe it was just colder and damper, and the building itself is just odd.

      1. My mom and I used to wander through old cemeteries (the ones on an out-of-the-way roadside, or old churchyards in Europe). We would read the stones, and see what stories they would tell.

        If there’s a sacred spot to me, cemetery-wise, it’s Arlington. If I have time, I can sit somewhere among the graves and keep a silent watch with my brothers-in-arms.

        1. The older members of the community, including my father’s mother, used to take me through the cemeteries and tell me stories about those buried there. A few stories were morbid, like the entire family who died of typhoid (IIRC), and the empty grave, the body lost in a steamboat explosion and never recovered. The rest was history. One was a screed, about a marker for the pulpit where a noted preacher spoke, and told it was not.

          If only I could remember all those old stories.

          For a while now I am troubled by the realization that I’m one of the last to know where some landmarks exist. This includes a cemetery now deep in the woods. I started a spreadsheet of place names, along with the latitude and longitude, then realized I have to note the reference ellipsoid. Also need to muddle through switching between reference ellipsoids, and write down the place names in archival ink on acid free paper.

        1. Me. Historical Family Graveyard (still in use). Always feel something there. Other small historical graveyards (in use or not), yes. Arlington – definitely, yes. Large public graveyards where my in-laws are buried, or the one where my Uncle was recently buried, not a thing.

  31. How much of all this is what we take to it, rather than what is actually there?

    I’ve been to numerous places that I’m assured are somehow, to some degree, haunted and/or “places of power”. Never felt a damn thing, in most of them, and the ones where I have felt things, like Dachau…? I have to wonder how much of it was because I knew how many had died there?

    The most disturbing places I’ve ever been in terms of “feel”, have been places of no known associated “bad things”, that I’ve been able to find, and those locales didn’t always maintain that feeling. If there is something to all this, it’s remarkably inconsistent and very prone to providing distinctly different experiences to different people experiencing them at the same time.

    I don’t doubt that there is something to all the paranormal stuff that people attest to, and there’s been stuff I can’t explain which I’ve experienced myself, but… What the hell is it? I can’t provide a rational explanation for some of the things I’ve seen and heard, but I’m loathe not to.

    1. “How much of all this is what we take to it, rather than what is actually there?”

      Impossible to say, IMHO. Some of it is probably real — when multiple people from multiple backgrounds report the same kinds of experiences, it’s hard to say it’s all just in their heads. OTOH, things like “confirmation bias” and selective memory are also real phenomena. We remember the one place we got such a feeling and it turned out the place had a history, but do we remember the times we had such a feeling and it turned out not to be justified by any known facts?

      “I can’t provide a rational explanation for some of the things I’ve seen and heard, but I’m loathe not to.”

      I try to keep in mind that the fact we have no rational explanation now doesn’t mean there isn’t one … and that if ghosts and goblins and mystic resonances are real, then invoking them is a rational explanation.

      1. Thing is, we know from other areas that defects in natural thinking can consistently return the same unfounded results across many observers. Think normal theories of how other people think as examined through an autistic lens.

        If I believe that many human beings consistently yield the same false but more useful than harmful assumptions, why should the vast wealth of data regarding mystical experiences necessarily be convincing?

    2. Maybe you’ve got the more useful sort that is the warning klaxon of ‘”SOMETHING HERE AIN’T RIGHT, ALERT, ALERT!'” ?

      Like how sometimes you’ll be driving down the road and just suddenly have the feeling that you really need to slow down, right now. That MIGHT be explained by you’re feeling the tires slip, or a car ahead wiggled, or you’ve just got nerves….

      1. Or hey, waiting at a green light because you recently were in a car accident, and then see the van flying through the intersection (and the horrified look on the passenger’s face)? The only weird thing about that one is that *everybody* waited, and the sight lines there are not such that anyone could have seen them coming.

        1. Or, someone who normally puts manual gear into first when stopping, so ready when light changes (after suitable “don’t jump green” wait), not do so, kills the engine, then watches someone blow through the red light. Make no mistake, if the car had been ready to go as usual, the guy would have nailed me. Not the last time this has happened. Sometimes I think I/we have guardian angels following us; just normal things, not dare devils or anything close.

        2. Yeah, I’ve seen that happen two or three times– I WAS the only person who could have seen the truck coming, and I didn’t, but ALL OF US SAT ON THE GREEN for way longer than normal.

          It stood out because a moment before the truck went past, I thought “wait, what the heck are we all doing?”

      2. I believe the fact that people aren’t constantly crashing into each other in parking lots is proof that humans are mildly telepathic. SO many times someone will put on the brakes for no apparent reason and it avoids a collision.

    3. I can’t provide a rational explanation for some of the things I’ve seen and heard, but I’m loathe not to.


      I figure it’s like that old line– pray to God, but keep rowing for shore.
      Don’t totally rule out Something You Don’t Already Know About, but don’t hit the I Believe button and turn your brain off, either.

    4. I can’t provide a rational explanation for some of the things I’ve seen and heard, but I’m loathe not to.

      Meh. As someone said up-thread: It’s a product of our times.

      If you come up with a rational explanation for gravity, you’ll be famous. We can describe it (in several, some incompatible, ways), but no one has a clue what it actually is.

  32. The roman theatre at Ceasarea has been restored and is now a concert and sports venue. When we went there for a kid’s horse show, my husband simply freaked out. He was overwhelmed by the thought/image/whatever that the kids were riding on sand that had been soaked in blood–roman theater, right?.

    I had the exact opposite reaction that it was rather charming to see this bloody old place get a new purpose. FWIW it is well established that I have the psychic sensitivity of an oyster. –s.

  33. Madness…? THIS. IS. POLITICS!

    The Sexual Harassment Frenzy is Madness and Must Stop
    By Sarah Hoyt
    So, about that #metoo business…

    The first time I was felt up, I was twelve. I’d transitioned from the village school, which went through fourth grade, to the middle school in the next town, which hosted students from all the villages around, and which was an industrial center that attracted population from distant parts.

    The peculiar system of Portuguese schools at the time is that you were allowed to fail some ridiculous amount of years before they stopped letting you enroll. I think it was six years of failing the same grade. So we had 18-year-olds in a school where the oldest should have been 12.

    I don’t know how old the guy who felt me up was, and I don’t think I ever knew who he was. I was just walking past and he grabbed me.

    Okay, at twelve, I had a fully developed figure, but Mr. Hormone hadn’t hit the brain yet. I had an idea of the mechanics of baby making, but no idea whatsoever of what the implications were, or that people did this for fun. And I had crushes on stars and such, but not a very good connection with the real people around me. And this was way before parents telling teachers about “bad touches” particularly in the village.

    So I should have had no clue this was a bad thing but I did. I still remember that moment vividly and the sense of “dirty” and that I’d like to shower a lot, maybe with very hot water. I think it was the expression in the guy’s eyes, the intent and malice in the ogling.

    And yet this is not a #metoo. I do not wish for all men to be punished because an overgrown adolescent with a weedy mustache couldn’t keep his hands to himself forty-three years ago in Portugal.

    Men are not a collective organism. …

    1. I do not wish for all men to be punished because an overgrown adolescent with a weedy mustache couldn’t keep his hands to himself

      I do not want all men punished because some men (and boys) are rude, crude and imposing.  Everyone should be held accountable for their own behavior; it is the the people who misbehave who should be punished.  A 65 year old creep who holds the possibility of employment over the head of his victims is the one who should be punished.  And the people who not only knowingly did not attempt to stop him, but cut contracts to protect him? They should be punished as well.  But punish all men?  No.  Nay. Never.  Nay.  No.

      1. Better to let a mass rapist free than to punish an innocent man.
        Everyone will be on the watch for that mass rapist to try again; and someone may remove him, possibly his next “victim”. But you can never restore what you have taken from an innocent falsely punished.

    2. 43 years ago… kind of makes the Moore thing an even starker thing, doesn’t it?

      I mean, Sarah isn’t old, but she’s talking about something from grade school, and….

    3. Noted in this morning’s edition of the Daily Progressive Newspaper:

      State Democrats announce new candidates — and they’re almost all women
      RALEIGH — The wave of women signing up to run for political office has hit North Carolina.[END EXCERPT]

      By “almost all women” do they mean that almost all of the candidates are women, or that all of the candidates are almost women?

      Methinks there is a national strategy being developed. Candidates are generally recruited, after all ..

      1. I’m pretty sure that Dems only consider Republican women to be “almost women”. And not very close to “almost”. (Cynicism works for me.)

  34. Colin Wilson has had a lot to say about this phenomenon in his many books on what I call “weirdness.” Wilson led me to the much more obscure author Thomas Lethbridge, who called such places of malignant effect “ghouls,” though that’s actually a misuse of the term. His books are hard to find but his personal descriptions of these ghouls are vivid and at times chilling.

    In my notes of odd things to work into stories I wrote up a speculation that strong emotion bends the shape of the collective unconscious at particular points in space. Mass murder generates a tremendous amount of fear, anger, and hate, so the site of a mass murder might be a sort of scorch spot on humanity’s collective perception of the world. I’m not saying I believe this. I’m saying it’s a useful story gimmick for which there just might possibly be a nanogram or two of evidence. It’s funny how so many people accept the notion of a collective unconscious without thinking at all about its implications.

  35. This is an interesting topic. FYI: On the spooks and spiritualism scale from 1 to 10, I’m probably a negative number. I think they make for fun stories, but I don’t think our world works that way. Matters of the soul/spirit belong to the abstract realm (different than nonexistent, but I’d be very surprised if people started scanning for ‘justice particles’ or could construct Dogbert’s ‘soul-o-meter’.)

    But in treating the topic: there seems to be a sort of cringing-ness in mankind’s attitude towards the supernatural. I can understand reverence and respect, for things considered holy and for sacrifices made. But why fear places where evil was done? Why (beyond the fear of any other physical threat) cower before monsters and demons?

    It’s sort of why Lovecraft always rubbed me the wrong way. In the context of the setting: The world is vast and ancient! The universe does not respect the proportions of mankind! (Granted. Welcome to Earth.) There are dizzying vistas of knowledge and existence of which mankind is entirely ignorant! (granted..) The universe is populated by creepy malevolent beings vast in power that don’t regard mankind as more than an annoyance! (Okay…) Flee! Flee from the terrors revealed by understanding into the comforting darkness of ignorance! Man wasn’t meant to know! (Oh grow a spine!)

    It’s why I’ve rather liked Correia’s Monster Hunter setting: The protagonists don’t cower before malevolent powers – they pretty much barrel along with their lives until some nameless horror crawls out of a dark and creepy place to do something nameless and horrible. Then they shoot it in the face until it learns some manners. Or dies – that works too.

    1. I suppose it could be condensed: It’s probably proper for children to avoid danger, but adults should deal with danger.

    2. Minor nit.

      The “Monsters” of Lovecraft weren’t always described as malevolent beings.

      They were extremely powerful beings who didn’t care how their actions (or even their presence) killed and/or drove insane humans.

      1. This scene from Babylon 5 captures them very well: they weren’t nearly so much malevolent as simply indifferent to us insects. Lovecraft’s whole background was that premise.

    3. For me?

      Same reason that I don’t argue with a mac truck that’s going 60 in a 25, even if the light DOES say I can cross. (I also look both ways crossing a one-way street– is someone who’s going to hit a pedestrian more or less likely to be going the wrong way on a one-way street?)

      Heck, think about how cows usually kill people– not by trying to, but just because they’re ten to twenty times heavier, and what is just brushing past another cow is enough to cause fatal injuries in a human that’s stuck between them and other cow, or a fence.

      If I don’t know the ice is thick enough to walk on, I’m sure not going to do a running leap to it!

    4. I haven’t read Lovecraft since I was a teen, but IIRC his main characters tended to be academics and artists/authors, a caste which we know is prone to inaction, overreaction and misreaction, so that may explain the qualities which you found disheartening.

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