Beware the Tokoloshe!

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I have a rather unique relationship with one of my co-workers, Jeremy. Sure, he’s a tremendously gifted artist, but I’d like to think that what made the two of us friends was our shared love for all things strange, bizarre, and just plain creepy. And since the United States is not Jeremy’s native country, he always had plenty of stories about creepy ghosts and weird monsters to share. Over the years, Jeremy and I have swapped stories about candy-stealing ghosts, vanishing soldiers, and shady governments creating their own monsters in hidden laboratories. But recently, Jeremy shared with me stories about a creature so bizarre that even I found myself a little creeped out by it: the tokoloshe.

According to this mini-documentary, the tokoloshe is some sort of weird, hairy creature that runs around South Africa, creating havoc. A tokoloshe can either be conjured up by a powerful witch doctor or else created by an unholy union between a human and a female animal. Once a tokoloshe is let loose, it will stop at nothing to destroy its intended target’s life. And I do mean stop at nothing.

Apparently, one of the tokoloshe’s ways of breaking up a marriage is to literally climb into bed with its female victim and have intercourse with them. Since the tokoloshe is said to be extremely well endowed, the woman will eventually find sex with her husband to be unsatisfying, causing the marriage to fall apart. Pretty twisted, huh?

As if the actions of the tokoloshe weren’t bizarre enough, the ritual required to rid oneself of the creature is truly mind-boggling. I won’t give away the ending of the documentary, but let’s just say the ritual includes gag-inducing smoke, stripping down for a bath, and a razor blade.

All things considered, the tokoloshe is one crazy beast!

If you missed the embedded link to the mini-documentary above, just follow the first link under this paragraph. The “dramatic reenactments” are well worth the 12:37 you’ll spend watching it. Keep in mind that there is some brief nudity (both human and tokoloshe) and some razor work that might make a few people wince a bit. But overall, it’s a video you will not soon forget!

VBS Special: Tokoloshe 

For additional information on the tokoloshe, visit these sites:

The Tokoloshe 

What Is A Tokoloshe?

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Thomas Edison: Ghostbuster?

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Thomas Edison was trying to build a machine to talk to the dead. That statement has long been whispered amongst members of the paranormal community for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can recall first coming across those very words in an old, dusty book back in the 1970s. But today, with the evolution of Telephones to the Dead, Frank’s Boxes, and various other screeching, squawking, static-belching devices, more and more people are popping up, claiming that they are carrying on with Edison’s work. Hell, some even claim that Edison’s ghost is reaching out from beyond the grave and providing specific instructions on how to build the device he never got to complete. All this despite the fact that there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that Edison was indeed building a telephone-like device to allow the living to communicate with a ghost.

That’s right; there’s no concrete evidence to support that Edison was creating a communications device for ghosts to use. There are no prototypes, no plans, and more importantly, no patents. And ask anyone who knows anything about Thomas Edison and they will tell you that above all, Edison loved his patents. And if there were even a ghost of a chance (sorry) that he was going to start working on something, he’d apply for a patent. In fact, there are numerous stories out there alleging Edison saw other inventors working on devices and then went and filed for (and received) patents on them, thereby stealing the other inventors’ work. I’m not saying that actually happened. Rather, I’m just saying that I firmly believe that if Edison was planning on working on such a groundbreaking device as something that could talk to the dead, he would have tried putting a patent on it. And yet, no such documentation exists. Don’t believe me? Take a trip up to Milan, Ohio, Edison’s birthplace, and ask anyone working at the Edison Birthplace Museum.

So why do so many people still claim Thomas Edison was spending so much time trying to talk to the dead? More importantly, how did such a story get started? These are the questions that have long-since fascinated me. So much so that I keep a list of all reported places (magazine articles, newspaper reports, etc.) where Edison himself is alleged to have made statements about building his spirit communication device. Most of the publications, while often quoted, are quite rare, which opens up the door to Edison’s words being misquoted or entirely fabricated. Case in point, while Edison is quoted as saying in the October, 1920 issue of The American Magazine that he is “building an apparatus” to communicate with the dead, a quote attributed to Edison that same month and year in Scientific American states that he is “thinking about” creating a device. I make it a point not to put forth anything as “fact” until I see it with my own eyes. I have yet to track down a copy of either The American Magazine or Scientific American, so I can’t comment on the validity of the statements. What I can comment on is something fascinating that I came across inside a new edition to the Strange & Spooky Museum.

Seems that my loving wife, Stephanie, not only got ahold of my Strange & Spooky Want List, but also managed to track down two Edison-related magazines I was looking for: the 1970 Fate magazine and the rare 1933 Modern Mechanix and Inventions magazine. It’s the latter magazine that is often pointed to as “proof positive” that Edison was working on a communications device to use with the dead.

Gifts from Steph: the 1933 Modern Mechanix and Inventions and the 1970 Fate magazine.

The first thing that struck me was that there is no byline for the article and no author listed in the table of contents. And aside from the fact that the article was written several years after Edison’s death, it also describes events that allegedly took place over a decade earlier, in 1920. The article, which describes Edison conducting some late-night experiments with a group of mediums, does not list any of the names of the participants, making it rather hard to research any further. Finally, the article appears in the October 1933 issue of the magazine, which might explain why the whole thing reads like a spooky ghost story drummed up merely to give readers a few chills for Halloween.

But by far the most intriguing part of the article is the type of device it describes Thomas Edison using. Despite what others have claimed, the device is not any sort of telephone-like instrument designed to allow one to hear the voice of a ghost. In fact, the experiment (if it really took place) seems to be based on the idea that ghosts are made up of matter than can be detected. Instead of a communication device, what is described in the article sounds more like what today we would refer to as a sort of laser grid or motion detector. The idea being that the mediums would ask the ghost to come closer to the light, at which point it would break the beam, announcing to all in the room that there was a ghost present. For the record, the article says the experiment was a failure with no ghosts showing that night, which is why the results weren’t made public until years later.

Second page of the Modern Mechanix and Inventions article

All in all, the article raises more questions than it answers. Granted, simply because the article doesn’t mention a telephone-like device doesn’t confirm Edison wasn’t building one. But you would think that if such a device existed at the time, Edison would have been using it in conjunction with the experiments described in the article. Of course, the entire article is written in such a vague, almost urban legend-like style as to make one wonder if the events described really happened at all.

So I guess I’m no closer to finding out the truth about Thomas Edison and his mysterious “talk to the dead” device than I was before. But at least I’ve got a couple of totally cool new additions to the Strange & Spooky Museum!

I’ll let everyone know if/when I come across some new bits of information. Until then, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the whole subject. So what do you think? Was Thomas Edison really working on a device to talk to the dead with?

Additional Reading:

Thomas Edison And His Spirit Phone

Edison’s Own Secret Spirit Experiments (contains the full Modern Mechanix and Inventions article)

Random Strange & Spooky Image: Funeral Procession Flag

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Here’s the latest addition to the Strange & Spooky Museum: a funeral procession flag, donated by fellow Ghosts of Ohio member, Julie. No real story behind it, other than it was found inside a central Ohio cemetery. Julie presented it to me after this past Sunday’s monthly Ghosts of Ohio meeting, where I came out into the parking lot to find this little beauty flapping in the wind on top of Ol’ Blue. Yet another reason why I love you, Julie!

Kinda faded, but still gets the point across!

Field Trip #3 Recap: Back to the Museum!

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OK, so it’s been a while since I gave you guys a recap of my field trips for my upcoming book. Good thing I take lots of notes, huh? Fear not, I’m going to get you guys caught up before you know it! Good thing, too, as I’m currently getting ready to start hitting the road again soon.

Regardless, when last we spoke, I had just completed an investigation of a museum for my book, leaving on a Friday night from work and arriving back home in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Although I didn’t even bother to unpack Ol’ Blue when I got home, I still got very little sleep that night/morning. That’s because I was so excited at the prospect of taking my daughter, Courtney, on her very first investigation for my book!

Let’s be honest here, though. No matter how excited I was, it didn’t change the fact that I still had to figure out how to jam all of Courtney’s travel accessories into the car. Since Ol’ Blue couldn’t hold anything other than the equipment (and me), Steph and I had made the decision that we would caravan, with my wife and daughter leading the way. Yup, that’s right; we needed two cars for everything.

Still, I was very excited about this trip. For Courtney’s first investigation, I had decided on a place that, while it needs to remain a secret until the book comes out, was still near and dear to my heart. Not only had The Ghosts of Ohio investigated the building several times in the past, but we were also the first paranormal organization to be allowed inside to conduct an investigation. The fact that it was also one of the most unique museums I have even been inside of only made me more excited.

But what really made me decide to make this Courtney’s first investigation was the interesting combination of ghosts and family that I’ve come to associate with this museum. You see, when The Ghosts of Ohio was first contacted by one of the museum’s Board members for an investigation, it wasn’t at the Board’s suggestion; it was because of the Board member’s mother! Turns out that mom was a big fan of the ghost reality shows and, after doing some online research, decided The Ghosts of Ohio was the group for the job! Not only that, but as it turned out, the Board member’s daughter was also a fan of the ghost shows. The result was that during The Ghosts of Ohio’s first investigation of the museum, 3 generations of one family took part, making it a truly unique evening. These three lovely ladies would come to take part in all subsequent investigations of the museum, making it feel like one big family. So it seemed the perfect choice for Courtney’s investigation debut.

Of course, I had to get her up there first. Surprisingly, the Pack & Play went into Steph’s car rather quietly. Likewise, all of Courtney’s other trappings managed to squeeze in, too. Not having taken Courtney on many long rides before, we wondered how she was going to do only a multi-hour one-way trip. But other than a brief pit stop about an hour into the ride for food and a diaper change, Courtney came through like a trooper and actually seemed to enjoy the ride.

After a brief check-in at the hotel, I made my way over to the museum to begin my interviews, leaving Steph to wrestle with the Pack & Play. I had roughly a dozen people to interview and had decided to do a round table discussion (which I would record) to knock things out all at once. Also, I’ve found that having several people share their ghost stories at once often makes for a more lively discussion. I was about 30 minutes into the interviews with Steph and Courtney arrived. Shortly thereafter, I began to realize that perhaps it was a mistake bringing Courtney along.

Strategic placement of Courtney's Pack & Play at the hotel

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