Photo of a ‘Guardian Angel?’

Posted: 19 May 2017 08:46 AM PDT

Photo of a ‘Guardian Angel?’

Little Aasher Liles – who has Down Syndrome – took the remarkable shot by using his mum Kerri’s mobile phone.

The apparition resembles the cartoon character Casper the Friendly Ghost.

It was only until Kerri took her phone and scrolled through her camera roll to discover the astonishing ghostly figure, which she believes is his “guardian angel”.

She became convinced that the seven-year-old – who cannot speak – had taken this picture while they were on a flight back to Houston, US.

Photographer Kerri wrote on her Facebook page: “We were flying back to Houston from Washington and my seven-year-old, who’s recently become obsessed with taking pictures with our cellphones, wanted to take some pictures out of the window after I had reached across him to take one myself. Read more at Boy, 7, captures incredible photo of ‘guardian angel’ floating outside plane


The Yesnaby Healer – Pow-Wow

Yesnaby: Illustration by S Towrie

 At Yesnaby, in Sandwick, there lived a woman who was said to have had the power to stop bleeding without leaving her house.

No matter how far distant the subject might be, once the woman had been called upon for help, the blood would stop.

On one such occasion, the woman was visited by a farmer pleading for her help.

One of his horses had met with an accident, and was bleeding so profusely that the blood was running out of the stable door.

The woman expressed doubt as to whether she would be able to help – more, it seems, because she didn’t trust the farmer than any doubt in her abilities. As it turned out the last farmer she had assisted had not paid her, in any form, for her cure.

Nonetheless, the woman eventually told the farmer to go home and she would do her best. By the time the man arrived back at his farm, the horse’s bleeding had stopped, and the animal was well on the road to recovery.

My Paranormal Influences – Pow-Wows Long Lost Friend

Posted: 02 Aug 2013 11:16 AM PDT

A few days ago, I received an email from a reader who wanted to know what influenced me to become interested in the paranormal. There have been a number of unusual episodes that I can recall, but the following narrative probably sums up my story the best. The esoteric and paranormal influences in my life were a bit more unusual than most. My descendants (who came to America, at Philadelphia, in 1734) were Ana-Baptists from Switzerland…better known in the New World as the Amish. I am the 11th generation of my descendant Ulrich Strickler, who fled the reformation and persecution. The original family homestead in Springettsbury Township, York Co. PA is recorded at the National Register of Historic Places As more German-speaking people moved into Pennsylvania, Old World folk-healing was established within the Pennsylvania Dutch / High German communities. The practice was known as ‘Pow-Wow’. The well-known ‘hex signs’ (Speilwerk) on Amish barns are Pow-Wow symbols used to deter evil spirits. Somewhat similar to HooDoo Conjure, Root Work and Magick, Pow-Wow is deeply associated with the Bible…especially the Old Testament. Most of the better known healing spells and folk magic are in John George Hohman’s 1820 German-American magical receipt-book named Pow-Wows or Long Lost Friend Another resource used is the The Sixth and Seventh Books of MosesThough ‘Pow-Wow is illegal to practice under Pennsylvania State Law…be assured, it is still used. My family had deep religious beliefs and prescribed to the long held symbols and customs. Though I’m not a religious person, I am spiritual and continue to keep ‘The Long Lost Friend‘ near me. It’s my version of a ‘talisman’ and reminds me of the healing sessions I witnessed as a boy. The 1988 film Apprentice to Murder was based on a true story attributed to a great uncle (portrayed by actor Donald Sutherland) who practiced Pow-Wow in southern Pennsylvania. Paranormal activity has been a part of me all my life. I have always had some psychic sensitivity but lacked the knowledge to properly use it. But one important event forced me to further examine my spirituality and how I would regard life here and beyond. I have posted the following event previously, but it was the greatest influence in my spiritual life. In 1977, it was confirmed that my great Aunt Lydie was suffering from lung cancer. The prognosis was not good and the doctors stated that she had very little time to live despite the fact that her illness didn’t slow her down. After a stint in the hospital, she returned home and continued her normal routine. Lydie was my mother’s aunt, my grandfather’s sister and would always open her home and kitchen to the family. The fact is that she practically raised my mother since my grandparents both worked. Her and my uncle owned a well-kept home in the south central Pennsylvania countryside that was surrounded by cornfields and woodlands. When I was a boy, I would take long hikes along the dirt roads as well as hunt for squirrel and deer in their woods. When I’d return to the house, my aunt would have a big hug and food on the table. I was very close to my Aunt Lydie. I had been married to my first wife about a year and was living outside of Baltimore, MD. My mother also lived in Maryland but about 15 miles from me. The family kept daily contact with Lydie and we all continued to visit her to make sure the house was maintained even though we lived an hour away. Lydie seemed resilient and didn’t let her illness get her down.

One late night, my wife and I were in bed asleep when ‘something’ woke me. I rolled on my back, opened my eyes and noticed that the room seemed to be illuminated somehow. By that time, my wife had also awaken and was wondering aloud as to why the room had lightened. We sat up and looked around the room in amazement. I was just about to get out of bed to check on my baby daughter when suddenly, a white billowy apparition started to materialize by the foot of the bed. The form was about 5 feet in height and continued to take a distinct form. Little by little, the spectre developed into the likeness of my Aunt Lydie. As I looked at the apparition’s face, I could see the mouth and eyes moving. It looked directly at me as it seemed like it was trying to tell me something. Both arms started to raise as if it wanted to hug me…the same way my Aunt Lydie would do when I’d walk through her kitchen door. My wife was motionless, shocked and scared out of her mind! She jumped out of bed and ran into my daughter’s bedroom, slamming the door behind her. By this time, the apparition started to dissipate and was completely gone after a few seconds. I sat on the bed utterly astonished. Honestly, this wasn’t the first ghost or phantom I had seen but it definitely was the most unforgettable. Then it struck me…my Aunt Lydie was dead. I looked at the alarm clock which read 2:33am. Just then, the telephone on the nightstand started to ring. I picked up the receiver and it was my mother calling. “Lon…don’t get upset. But, did you see Lydie?” I acknowledge to her that I had. She continued, “Well, Mom (my grandmother) called me and said Lydie had come to say goodbye to her and Daddy (my grandfather).” Well, by this time, I was totally freaked out. The fact that we all lived in separate locations many miles apart and that the spectre of my Aunt Lydie had visited us at the same time was mind boggling…at least to this, then, 20 year old. In the morning we were told that my aunt had been rushed to the hospital a little after 2:00am and had died in the emergency room at 2:27am after suffering a massive stroke. This incident really opened my eyes and encouraged me to take a serious look at paranormal field work. Since that time, I have experienced a plethora of strange and unexplained phenomena…and I still have an overwhelming desire to find the answers. Lon


John Lee: The Man They Couldn’t Hang – Edinburgh, Scotland – 1884

The Hangman James Berry

For ten years, James Berry of Yorkshire, England was a police constable, and during that time he made many friends and enemies. One acquaintance of the Yorkshire man was William Marwood, an old executioner of the City of London who liked to give Berry a blow by blow account of the techniques he employed to hang criminals. When Marwood died, in 1883, 32-year old Berry decided the police force was not for him, so he left, and finding himself desperate for a vocation in life, he opted for a macabre career; a hangman. With all the knowledge of the gallows obtained from Marwood, Berry confidently applied for his deceased friend’s job, but was turned down. The ex-policeman persisted with his unusual aspiration, and to his delight, he received his first commission of 21 guineas – to hang two men at Calton Prison in Edinburgh. Included in the commission was a second-class return rail ticket from Berry’s hometown of Bradford, and money for board and lodgings.

On the night before James Berry was due to hang the men, he had a lucid nightmare about his new life-taking occupation. In the dream, Berry found that he could not hang a man because the trapdoor on the gallows refused to open. This same disturbing dream returned to haunt Berry’s sleep many times over the years.

The following morning, everything went smoothly, and the two condemned men were dispatched without any trouble. On the night November 15th, 1884, Miss Emma Whitehead Keyse, a former maid of honor (and a friend of Queen Victoria) was found battered to death with her oil-soaked clothes ablaze at a villa known as ‘The Glen’ in Babbacombe, Devon. Miss Keyse’s cook, Elizabeth Harris, discovered the body of her mistress in the dining room after waking in her own smoke-filled room. She said that Miss Keyse’s head had been battered in, and her clothes had doused in oil from a lamp and evidently lighted by the murderer. After taking a statement from the cook, the police quizzed the dead woman’s other servant, a 19-year-old footman named John Lee, who was the half-brother of Elizabeth Harris.

Lee had the reputation of being a petty thief and had been hired by Miss Keyse out of pity. With such a track record, the footman soon became the prime suspect in the eyes of the police, despite the fact that Lee had tried to put out the fire on the night of the murder, and had broken down in tears upon hearing that his mistress had been murdered. “I have lost my best friend.” A tearful Lee had said to the village constable who had arrived at the scene of the crime first.

But the police painted a different picture and went on the body of circumstantial evidence that was building up against the teenager. Lee had bloodstained clothing, and an empty can that had contained lamp oil was found in the pantry where Lee had been seen shortly before the fire broke out. Lee tried to explain everything. He told police that the blood on his clothing was his own, because he had gashed his hand while breaking a window pane to let the smoke from the fire out, although he couldn’t explain the empty can of lamp oil. Lee was arrested and charged with murder, and at the subsequent trial, the prosecution made it clear that only John Lee had a motive. Just before her brutal death, Miss Keyse had cut Lee’s weekly wages of four shillings in half because he had come under suspicion of theft. So, Lee had obviously killed her in fit of anger.

Lee protested, but his words fell on deaf ears. The jury reached a guilty verdict, and shortly before the sentence was passed, Lee declared from the dock, “I am innocent. The Lord will never permit me to be executed!” The judge sentenced John Lee to death by hanging.

After the trial, a rumor circulated that Lee’s half-sister, Elizabeth Harris, the cook, had been discovered making love with a man in bed by Miss Keyse, a rather prim, puritanical individual. According to the rumor, Miss Keyse was outraged and took a swipe at the naked couple, and out of sheer panic, Miss Harris struck back at her frail mistress with her fist, killing her. Hearsay had it that Miss Harris and her lover then took Miss Keyse’s body to the dining room, where they tried to cover up the murder by battering the dead woman’s skull in to create the impression that a violent murder perpetrated by an intruder had taken place. Miss Harris soon came to her senses and realized the police wouldn’t be so easily fooled, so she sprinkled the contents of a can of lamp-oil over the corpse and set fire to it, hoping that the flames would make the cause of Miss Keyse’s death hard to determine. But the ad hoc cremation attempt didn’t succeed, because John Lee was soon alerted by the smell of burning, and ran into the dining room with a pail of water to douse the flames. As the youth did this, Elizabeth or her lover placed the incriminating can of lamp-oil in the pantry where Lee had been working. On the night before the execution, Lee chatted in his cell with the prison governor and the chaplain, and the former told the condemned that there was no chance of a reprieve. Lee responded by shrugging. Then said, “Elizabeth Harris could say the word which could clear me, if she would.”

When the governor and the chaplain left the cell, Lee settled down and had no difficulty sleeping. The dream he had was a strange one. Lee dreamed her was standing on the gallows with the noose around his neck, but the trapdoor wouldn’t open, despite the repeated yanks the hangman was giving to the lever. When Lee awoke from the dream, he felt that God had assured him that there was nothing to worry about, as he would not die on the gallows.

Shortly before eight o’clock on the morning of Monday, 23rd February, 1885, James Berry led John Lee to the center of the trap on the gallows, then proceeded to strap Lee’s legs together below the knees, before positioning and tightening the rope around his neck. Berry pulled the white hood over the doomed man’s head, then walked to the lever. After a short tense pause, Berry threw the lever – and the expected sound of bolts being drawn below the gallows was heard. Death would be a heartbeat away now for Lee. But, to everyone’s amazement, the trap door on which John Lee stood refused to open. Berry’s recurring nightmare had come true – and Lee’s dream also.

Berry trembled. He took the hood and noose off Lee and tested the stubborn trap with a sandbag that weighed the exact same weight as Lee. The trap opened this time and the sandbag crashed to the ground under the gallows. Lee was pushed onto the trap again with the hood over his head and the noose re-positioned around his neck. This time, all the witnesses to the impending execution knew that the trap would work.

Berry pulled the lever – but the trap beneath Lee’s feet wouldn’t open again. Berry’s face started to twitch, and his shaking hands took the noose and hood off Lee, and guided him off the trap. A prison engineer and Berry discussed the problem, and a carpenter was summoned. When the edges of the trap had been planed, and the bolts of the hanging apparatus had been greased, a sandbag acted as a substitute for Lee again. Everything went like clockwork. Lee was put on the trap for the third time. The hooded man stood there, waiting for Berry to throw the lever. Berry inhaled the cold morning air, then pulled the lever as hard as possible. The chaplain looked away as the greased bolts slid as expected. But to his total astonishment, the chaplain saw that Lee was still standing on the unopened trap. The holy man fainted, but was caught by a warder before he could hit the floor.

It was decided that a messenger should be sent to London to inform the Home Secretary of the botched hanging attempts. While everyone waited for the messenger to return, Lee was asked if he felt like eating a last breakfast, and he later consumed a substantial repast. Ironically, the hangman James Berry had to turn down the meal he was offered, because of his nerves. So Lee eat Berry’s meal instead!

About nine hours later, the messenger returned from London to inform Lee that he had been granted a respite by the Home Secretary. The death sentence had been commuted to life-imprisonment. But Lee was released after serving twenty years. He came out in 1905 and married a childhood sweetheart who had waited patiently for him. The couple went to America, and up until his death in 1933, John Lee, the man who couldn’t be hanged, swore he was not a murderer. Whenever people asked him what he thought about being spared from the rope three times in a row, Lee would say it wasn’t luck, or freak mechanical failure that saved his neck – but divine intervention. 

From Strange But True by Tom Slemen (Barnes & Noble)

This story reproduced with permission from Tom Slemen

Visit Tom Slemen’s official web-site at


Today in Strangeness: “Cyberspace” – March 17, 1948

On this date March 17, 1948, William Gibson, the prescient sci-fi writer who coined the term cyberspace, was born in South Carolina.

The word ‘cyberspace’ first appeared in his 1986 novel Neuromancer and came to represent many new ideas and phenomena emerging from the Internet and digital communications. 

Today in Strangeness: February 11, 1858 – St. Bernadette Soubirous

On February 11, in 1858, the apparitions at Our Lady of Lourdes began. 

A 14-year old French girl, Bernadette Soubirous saw the appearance 

of a “lady” in a cave– the first of 18 visions of what many believe was 

the Virgin Mary. Soubirous was eventually canonized as a saint, and 

a sanctuary was built on the site, where water from a spring is said 

to have remarkable healing power.

Today in Strangeness: February 23, 1885 – John Lee

On February 23, 1885, English authorities attempted to hang convicted murderer John Lee. Despite three attempts at execution, the hanging gallows would not work. Bewildered by this turn of events, the court considered the unexplained malfunction to be an “act of God” and spared Lee’s life.