Many is the paranormal researcher who has said Poveglia Island in Italy is one of the scariest places on earth. It has a long, sordid history. It’s been the site of bloody battles, a burial ground for victims of the plague and host to a mental asylum. If tortured spirits would linger anywhere, it has to be amongst the ruins of Poveglia Island.
Today, the island is off limits to the public, but I was lucky enough to interview author J.H. Moncrieff who made it on the island…alone!!! Share her journey as she walks us through her chilling trip…
Also, check out J.H. Moncrieff’s article on the most haunted islands in the world. While you’re there, sign up for her newsletter. You won’t want to miss a single issue!
A new Catherine Cavendish book always shivers me timbers. She really knows how to hit my paranormal sweet spot. To celebrate the release of her latest and greatest, Saving Grace Devine, I invited Catherine to stop by and give my Hellions some world class goosebumps. So dim the light, settle into a comfy chair and read the tale of the White Lady of Stow Lake…
In my novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.
From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls and young women, who are apparently bound to the shores of the lake where they died. They all appear to be searching for something, or someone -in dire need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.
And not all of them are benign.
One such wraith seems to constitute a deadly reason why I, for one, would think twice before venturing on a walk around Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Her appearances have been frequent and well documented.
Golden Gate Park is landscaped on similar lines to New York’s Central Park. It hosts a museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, Sprekels Park and, of course, Stow Lake. It also houses a number of ghosts – and even an allegedly moving statue. But more of that later. We’re concerned now with “a thin, tall figure in white.” So said Arthur Pigeon, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6th 1908. Police had pulled him over for speeding and he told the newspaper that it had blocked his way as he drove out of the park, “…it seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened and anxious to get away from the place.”
Of course, the temptation is to say the man was merely trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. And if his had been the only report, then that could well have been the case. But it wasn’t. Over the hundred plus years since that Chronicle article, many other people have reported seeing precisely the same apparition.
So who is this mysterious ‘white lady’ of Stow Lake?
There are, as always, a number of theories. One of the more compelling is that in the late 1800s, a young woman was out, walking her baby in its pram around the lake. She became tired and sat down on a bench. Presently another lady came to join her and the two struck up a conversation. So engrossed was the young mother that she failed to notice the pram rolling away. Suddenly she realized it had gone. There was no sign of either the pram or the baby. Panic stricken, she searched high and low, asking everyone, “Have you seen my baby?” No one had. For the rest of that day, and into the night, she searched.
Finally, she realized the baby and the pram must have fallen into the lake. She jumped in and was never seen alive again.
Witnesses who report seeing her speak of a woman in a dirty white dress, sometimes soaking wet and, contrary to Arthur Pigeon’s assertion that she had fair hair, the other reports consistently state she has long, dark hair. Sometimes she is also seen on Strawberry Hill – adjacent to the lake. Her face wears an anxious expression and she has been known to approach people walking around the lake at night. She asks, “Have you seen my baby?”
As for the statue I mentioned earlier, this is called ‘Pioneer Woman and Children’. It has a reputation for moving around – and even changing shape. These phenomena always occur at night and seem directly linked to the white lady. Sometimes the statue’s face changes. Other times, it has no legs or head. Motorists have reported electrical problems. Different cars driving near the statue or lake at the same time have stalled simultaneously.
Finally, if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough, try going down to Stow Lake at night and say, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. It is said she will then manifest herself before you and ask you, “Have you seen my baby?” If you say, “yes”, she will haunt you ever after. But, if you say, “no”, she’ll kill you.
Now there’s no documented evidence of the white lady committing murder. But are you prepared to put her to the test?
Can the living help the dead…and at what cost?
When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.
But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.
You can find Saving Grace Devine here:
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Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
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Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with Cat here:
For anyone who follows current trends in the UFO field, the name Ryan Sprague has been as ubiquitous as the phrase, ‘the truth is out there’. You can hear him on his podcast, Into the Fray, as well as a guest on just about every UFO/Paranormal podcast out there. You may have also seen him on TV on the Travel Channel, Science Channel and more. A New York playwright, he’s also the proud author of Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. I recently sat down with Ryan to talk about his book, the possible truth behind the UFO phenomenon and where to get the best hot dogs in New York.
Tell us about your path from accomplished playwright to author of Somewhere in the Skies : A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon and podcaster on Into the Fray Radio. If life is all about experience and diversification, you’re doing it right.
Well, I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but I am definitely trying to do it! And if people want to follow me on that journey, I couldn’t be happier and more appreciative of that. My stage and film writing began in college at Oswego State University (Where snow would reach my neck during most winters, and ropes were put between buildings to pull your way to class… no joke). My main focus was theater, but I just happened to take one playwriting course my sophomore year and I was hooked. I then dove head first into playwriting, and have since made that my main focus here in New York City where I’ve been living for the past ten years. I was also always fascinated by the UFO topic, having had a rather dramatic triangular UFO sighting over the Saint Lawrence River in Upstate NY when I was twelve years old. I started writing for several alternative print magazines about UFOs, and even began work on a stage play about the 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. I finally decided that I wanted to write a book and really get my own voice and thoughts on the the topic out there, and that’s how the book came about. After two years of research, it’s finally out on the shelves and I couldn’t be happier. As for Into the Fray, I am an avid podcast listener as I’m constantly commuting to and from Manhattan here in NYC, and there’s nothing better than listening to something on your headphones than to hear New Yorkers complain about their day. I remembered hearing a show about Bigfoot, a topic I never really took an interest in, and the co-host was so knowledgeable and passionate about the topic, and reminded me so much of myself when I talked about UFOs. That’s when I contacted the host, Shannon LeGro, and we started talking about how cool it would be the start a show where we literally taught one another about a topic we knew very little about. And it sort of culminated into what is now Into the Fray, featuring Shannon, Sam Shearon, and myself. We chat weekly about weird news, the paranormal, cryptids, UFOs, and even true crimes, bringing on guests and experts to join the conversation. It’s been an amazing ride, and we’ve really only begun!
I know a lot of people are calling you the bright young voice in the UFO field. You’re in your 30s, which makes you about 30 years younger than the familiar names that we’ve all come to know. Who are some of your biggest influences?
My biggest influence and the person I consider my mentor in this field is author and investigative writer, Peter Robbins. Robbins, along with Larry Warren, wrote the British Best-Selling book, Left at East Gate: A First-hand Account of the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident, Its Cover-up, and Investigation. After reading his book, I immediately contacted him to discuss this deeply compelling case and we’ve become wonderful friends and colleagues ever since. My other influences really come from those who aren’t afraid to step out of the mold of nuts-and-bolts Ufology and dig a bit deeper to bring fresh perspectives to the phenomenon and the study of it. Those individuals include the late Mac Tonnies, who really inspired me to step out of the box and look at alternative theories on what UFOs may be and what the occupants who supposedly control them may represent other than aliens from outer space. Others who currently keep my own research fresh and exciting would have to be Greg Bishop, MJ Banias, and of course, Dr. Jaques Vallee. These researchers have (and continue) contributed so much to the field in terms of alternative ways of looking at and trying to explain aerial phenomena and the question of possible contact with non-human intelligence(s).
You’ve had your own UFO experience. On that, we share common ground. Care to describe it? How did you feel as it was happening? Did it change your worldview?
My interest stemmed from a sighting I had in 1995. I was twelve years old, and I was on a weekend getaway with my parents to the Saint Lawrence River, which runs all through upstate New York and separates The New York border from Canada. I was fishing off a dock one night, listening to Green Day on my headphones, and I notice three white lights reflecting in the water. I look up, and there’s this massive triangular formation about 300 feet above me. There’s this fuzzy orange/red sphere in the center of the formation. I couldn’t see any type of structure, but I also couldn’t see the stars behind this formation. I rip my headphones off and my disc-man goes flying down the dock, and I’m expecting to hear this thing above me, but there was nothing. All I could hear was the water hitting the dock. And I could feel this low vibration running behind my ears, down my neck, and into my chest. I yell for my Dad to come out and he sees this thing slowly disappear off in the distance. That night terrified me, and I became obsessed with UFOs after that. At the age of twelve, I started researching the UFO phenomenon and it opened the floodgates for me. I knew there was so much more out there than we’re told or conditioned to believe. Whether or not what I saw that night was alien or man-made technology, I may never know. But it challenged my perception of reality and what is possible. And it’s led me on a journey of both self-discovery and opened doors to opportunities I never would have imagined walking through. That sighting scared the living hell out of me, but I wouldn’t trade it in a million years.
What’s your take on the UFO phenomenon? Do you think we’re being visited by alien beings in physical craft, our future selves from other dimensions or time slips, a kind of mass hallucination or something so out there, we don’t even have a proper way of defining it?
I honestly believe all these theories as right. And wrong. And somewhere in between. We have spent the past seventy years studying UFOs in many different capacities and any type of singular answer remains just as elusive as it has since Kenneth Arnold’s sighting over Mount Rainier when the term “flying saucer” made its way into the mainstream. But what some may not be aware of is that what Arnold saw that day actually weren’t saucer shaped at all. A misquote in a newspaper ushered in this term, and for decades and decades after, people reported seeing flying saucers all over the world. This brings up the question of the mass hallucination you speak of. UFO researcher and author, David Clarke, termed this the “UFO Syndrome”. We tend to connect many things to UFOs, even if they have conventional or prosaic answers. This is when we must remain objective and open to the possibility that UFOs may indeed have nothing to do with aliens whatsoever. Could they merely be manifestations of our own minds that we’ve been so culturally ingrained and conditioned to believe are little green men from space? It’s possible. Could they in fact be humans from the future coming back to check on us? Possibly. The fact of the matter is, I have no fucking idea. But I’m going to keep taking the journey and see where the research leads me.
What do you think is the most fascinating but underreported UFO sighting of the past 60 years?
I would have to say that the 1976 Tehran UFO incident is the most fascinating sighting that I’ve personally come across. This case consisted of radar and visual sighting of an unidentified flying object over the capital of Iran. On September 19th, after several reports were phoned in to the local air traffic controllers, the Iranian Air Force was eventually called in to investigate. Two F-4 Phantom jets were sent up and observed a diamond-shaped craft, massive in size, floating effortlessly. The pilots reported losing instrumentation and communications as they approached, only to have them restored upon withdrawal; one of the aircraft also reported suffering temporary weapons systems failure, while preparing to open fire on the object. The case was later investigated by U.S. Intelligence as well, and information pertaining to the case is now available through the Freedom of Information Act. This is a documented case with ground radar, flight transmissions, and official documentation of unknown objects interacting with military aircraft. It also included pilot witness testimony and two government agencies from two different countries. Yet many people have never heard of it. It is certainly worth further exploration.
A lot of people are hooked on ancient alien theories. The show has definitely sparked some creative ways of looking at our past and linking events, places and people to UFOs and aliens. What do you think? Has the Earth been a way station for passing civilizations since time immemorial?
This is a massive can of anthropological worms that I simply haven’t focused my efforts or time researching. While I find the work of Erich von Däniken or Zecharia Sitchin very interesting and alluring, there simply isn’t enough proof, in my opinion, that this is the case. Now, I am not saying that IF aliens have visited our planet, that it began with a crash in 1947 in Roswell, but I believe we also do not give humankind enough credit of our vast intelligence and persistence to evolve and progress technologically. The idea that some sort of ancient extraterrestrial civilization has intervened in our history strips us of responsibility for that which we’ve created. It also opens an entire alternative history where these non-human intelligences have co-existed insidiously with us for countless centuries. Again, I have entertained the many theories brought forth by trailblazers in the ancient alien and ancient astronaut theory, but right now my attention is focused on moving my own sights towards the future of possible alien contact from a scientific standpoint, and even more ambitiously, from a consciousness standpoint. The only thing I know for certain, in terms of ancient aliens, is that if my hair ever grows to the towering heights of Giorgio Tsoukalos, someone please force me to get a haircut.
What’s the one thing the UFO field has been missing or needs to improve upon not just to gain legitimacy in the mainstream, but move it forward to finally finding concrete answers?
In my opinion, there needs to be a convergence of the UFO experience and the UFO study. This topic covers the most broad umbrella one can possibly imagine. Whether seen through the lens of science, philosophy, theology, anthropology, psychologically, sociologically, economically, or even academically, there is a place in our world view for the phenomenon of the UFO. That being said, we need to find a way to bring forward the most analytical and credible data from each of these camps, get the top researchers in one room together, and hash it out. Instead of saying that one viewpoint isn’t as important as the other, let’s work together to really look at what this phenomenon could represent. Let’s put a mirror up to ourselves and really ask the hard questions. There is some amazing scientific work being done on searching for extraterrestrial life right now by young, ambitious individuals. The same could be said in the fields of psychology and hypnotherapy in terms of possible alien abductions and/or contact with said aliens. While this may be extremely challenging, the outcome may be inevitably much more rewarding. We live in great times of uncertainty here in America and abroad. So maybe by coming together and putting that microscope on the human side of a possible alien phenomenon, we can glimpse into the heart of these mysteries and come out much more accepting of one another on the other side. As for concrete answers… I wouldn’t bet on it!
Here are just a few quick hits :
Favorite part of a UFO con.
Meeting witnesses and experiencers who trust me enough to tell me their stories. There is nothing more galvanizing then sitting face to face and hearing the story straight from the individuals themselves. Those are the moments when it really hits me and I’m like, “Holy shit. This is really happening to these people. And there are things out there that we’ve only begun to understand.”
Favorite UFO/Alien/Abduction movie.
I’m going to have to go with three different films on this one which all hold special places in my heart and mind. The first is “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951), “Close Encounter of the Third Kind” (1977) and “Arrival” (2016) — Hunter : “I almost have the same top 3, with War of the Worlds replacing The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Dream guest to have on your podcast.
Jaques Vallee. No question. The man is a legend in the UFO field in so many ways. Also, I wouldn’t mind getting Chris Carter on just to be a fanboy for two hours straight. I am a self-professed “X-Phile.” —Hunter : “I think I’d be too tongue tied to interview Chris. Fanboy paralysis”
Gray’s Papaya hot dogs, yea or nay? (since you live in NY. And if you haven’t had one yet, I’ll treat!)
Had em. Loved em. But being from upstate NY, I have to represent Hoffman’s Hotdogs. And don’t even get me started on the coney snappy griller up in Syracuse, NY. If you’ve never had one, head up to the ‘Cuse and ask for one. Just imagine a sweet and spicy hotdog… with relish of course!
Best book you’ve read about UFOs.
Passport to Magonia by Dr. Jaques Vallee. Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record is a close second. — Hunter : “Just read the latter, will pick up the former. Great picks!”
The one place you’d love full and unfettered access to investigate.
Either Dugway Proving Ground in Utah (Supposedly an Area 52 location) or Hangar 18 in Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.
Please tell us about your book, where folks can find it and learn more about you and your amazing work.
The book is called, Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. It covers a wide array of my two year investigation into UFOs, close encounters, and possible alien abductions. But rather than focus on the where and when, this book covers the who and the why, really putting a microscope on those who’ve had the experiences, what they believe it to be, and what they might tell us about what we may be dealing with somewhere in the skies.
All of my UFO work can be found at: www.somewhereintheskies.com
You can hear me on the Into the Fray Podcast at: www.intothefrayradio.com
For my stage and film work, you can visit: www.ryandsprague.com
Book is Available in Paperback and E-Book on Amazon at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Skies-Human-Approach-Phenomenon/dp/0967799589/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481577910&sr=8-1&keywords=somewhere+in+the+skies
It’s Halloween, the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Ghosts and demons lay in wait for little boys and girls who prefer tricks over treats!
What better way to spend the season than watching great horror movies? Here are what I consider the 5 best haunted house movies of all time. For my money, ghosts are far scarier than monsters because we’re potentially looking at our own destinies. Will you be among the trapped spirits some day, haunting the family living in your former home?
5. THE SENTINEL
The 70s were a treasure trove for horror. This is the decade that gave us true frights like The Exorcist, The Omen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left and Halloween. Lost in the mix is this chilling classic about a NY fashion model who moves into a creepy brownstone apartment. The residents are the most disturbing cast of characters you’ll ever meet. Part ghost story, party possession tale, some scenes in The Sentinel will haunt you for the rest of your life. And it’s loaded with stars, including Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Beverly D’Angelo, Ava Gardner. John Carradine and so much more.
4. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
This flick needs no introduction. Even if the story the Lutz family told the world is total B.S., this is still a spine tingling movie.This one has it all – evil spirits, bleeding walls, mystery rooms, imaginary friends with bad intentions and a home clouded by the spectre of a mass murder. James Brolin is brooding and terrifying as the spirit of the house drags him down. Almost 40 years later and this one still gives me chills.
3. THE CHANGELING
George C. Scott plays a composer who lost his family in an accident. Trying to put his life back together, he moves into a huge old house that, as we come to find out, is quite haunted. First of all, Scott may be the biggest-name actor in a horror movie – ever. His performance gives a gravitas rarely seen in the genre. As the story unfolds, you’ll find your goosebumps just won’t go away. That’s one haunted house I might skip if invited to spend the night.
2. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
I wasn’t a fan of The Blair Witch Project and the whole found footage dealio, but Paranormal Activity changed my mind. This one actually made my wife and I nervous when we went to sleep that night (it doesn’t help that we live in a haunted house). I can think of better things to film in the bedroom, but I’m glad they concentrated on the demonic spirit here. I just watched it again last week and it’s still unsettling. Find the BluRay with the alternate ending if you can!
Hands down, this is my favorite ghost movie ever. Short on special effects because it doesn’t need them, a college professor gathers willing subjects to live in a haunted mansion in Massachusetts. As the caretaker warns them in the beginning, “No one can hear you scream in the dark. In the night.” Using the twisted history of the house to put your nerves on edge, The Haunting is all about atmosphere and odd sounds and tortured souls. This is a must watch for any true horror fan.
So, what would make your top 5 list? There were so many I could have added here, but I forced myself to whittle it down to the 5 that deeply affected me, long after the end credits.