The word talisman refers in its widest sense to an object made to protect the owner, to avert the power of evil, and promote well-being. Talismanic objects in various cultures belong to realm of magic and made in many different forms and sizes some were even worn as clothing like the shirt.
The history of talismanic shirts goes back a very, very long way. The prophet Joseph (Yusuf in Arabic) is believed to have owned one that protected him from hardship and evil. It is even credited with performing miracles – as when it restored the vision of Joseph’s father Jacob (Ya‘qub in Arabic), following an instruction recorded in the Qur’an, Surah Yusuf (XII, verse 93):
اذْهَبُواْ بِقَمِيصِي هَـذَا فَأَلْقُوهُ عَلَى وَجْهِ أَبِي يَأْتِ بَصِيرًا وَأْتُونِي بِأَهْلِكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
“Take this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father; he will become seeing. And bring me your family, all together.”
Though talismanic shirts were used as protection from disease, famine, difficult child birth, sudden death, and the unpredictability of travel, it is believed that the majority of these shirts were meant for use in battle. Particular verses from the Qur’an that refer to victory were commonly inscribed on shirts worn under armour – the word of God was intended to protect the owner while they fought.
Four distinctive types of Islamic talismanic shirts have been identified: Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal (Indian) and West African –none of which can be dated to earlier than the 15th century. Each group has its own unique stylistic approach to the shape of the garments and the talismanic formulas used, as well as the design of the illumination.
The tradition of talismanic shirts – known as the Ottoman magic shirts- dates from Turkey’s shamanist past. Back then, the shirts, engraved with geographical designs, were believed to protect the person who wore them against diseases and enemies.
With Islam, the geographical designs became verses from Quran and the “talismanic shirts” entered the Ottoman Palace, to be mostly worn by crown princes, to protect them from the wrath of their brothers and contenders to the throne or to assure they had plenty of offspring to ensure their line of blood continued.
By comparison to how accurate curators can sometimes be about the making of these incredible shirts, their function is far more debatable. Unfortunately, there are very few sources that discuss or even mention the use of these objects. One source, written in the 1530’s in Istanbul, describes a shirt made by a holy man in Mecca through which neither bullets nor swords could penetrate. That shirt was commissioned for the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520—1527) by his wife Hürrem Sultan, and still survives to this day. It is housed in the Topkapı Palace Museum in Istanbul.
The Talismanic Shirt was worn by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent (1520—1527) under his armor at the Mohacs Battle and during other military confrontations. It was prepared by the head (or court) astrologer (Münecimbashi) according to his time of birth and contains the Al-Fath (Victory) Sura and other Suras of the Koran. (Image Source)
Another Topkapı shirt was commissioned for Cem Sultan (d.1495), son of Sultan Mehmed II, and includes not only the exact date and time at which the construction of the shirt was begun, (30 March 1477, Tuesday, 12:36pm, the Sun in 19 degrees Aries), but also the exact date and time it was finished (29 March 1480, Sunday 3:57am, the Sun in 19 degrees Aries). Topkapı’s dated example gives an unusually accurate idea of how time consuming the production of such garments could be – three years to complete a single shirt.
In ancient Slavic culture it was common to have a talismanic shirt – tight fitting garment, worn as a sort of armour. It was supposed to hold back diseases and the evil eye and protect from enemies on the battlefield.
Traditional Slavic warrior shirts featured magic symbols and some amulets could be stitched or embroidered directly to onto the collar, sleeves and the bottom part.
Left: Sketch of Slavic male ritual shirt. Right: Sketch of Slavic male warrior shirt (Image Source)
Usually the decoration was made in red pattern represented a “fire-line”. Main spiritual protecting element of warrior shirt was so called “shield” rectangular piece, outlined with a different colour, in the top front of the shirt. Containing some special symbols it believed to possess strong protective powers.
During the Viking Age there were so called berserkers (or “berserks”) super skilled Norse warriors who are primarily reported in Icelandic sagas to have fought in a trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word “berserk.” They are said to be possessed by the spirit’s of the animals they worshipped, at the times, Berserkers join up with the regular Vikings to fight alongside them for unknown reason, they are said to jump into the battle without any fear or hesitation and were ready to slaughter anyone who stands in their way.
An engraving of an image shown on a Vendel era bronze plate discovered in Öland, Sweden. Depicted are a berserker about to decapitate his enemy on the right and Oden on the left. Oden’s famous characters markers are not present.
Interesting fact that these warriors would often go into battle without mail coats, wearing instead a kind of shirt or coat (serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (ber-). The bear was one of the animals representing Odin, and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favour of Odin.
This expression berserk most likely arose from their reputed habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat (serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (ber-) during battle. The bear was one of the animals representing Odin (Odin is a widely revered god in Norse mythology), and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favor of Odin.
The bear-warrior symbolism survived to this day in the form of the bearskin caps worn by the guards of the Danish and British monarchs, the Royal Life Guards and the Queen’s Guard.
The Dreaded House of Boleskine
Near Loch Ness stands the dreaded Boleskine House of infamous Occultists and Rock Stars alike. Within lies a harrowing history of demonic madness.
One thing is for sure. The old country is a spooky place. Something that will always separate Europe from America is the difference of having thousands of years of relatively well-known and documented history.
Not all of it may sit well with the faint of heart either. Through bloodshed and misery the castles and streets have become havens for ghostly apparitions of the restless undead.
However, it is the mystery of the countryside, especially the cryptic and beautifully bleak countryside of Great Britain that can share histories of unparalleled horror. With its old names and enigmatic backgrounds these haunts are breeding places for untold terrors.
The southern bank of Loch Ness in Scotland is no different. In fact, it has a tale to fill the stoutest heart with ice that is less than one hundred years old.
The House of Demons and Sorcery
It is like any other Scottish country mansion. Beautiful and old, a mysteriously majestic quality the same of which cannot truly be found anywhere else in the world. Yet inside the salmon stucco walls of Boleskine House a horrible secret is kept.
For starters across the courtyard on the other side of a rural road rests a graveyard that is over a century old. It was built in the late nineteenth century by a man named Archibald Fraser. Its neighbor, macabre resting place, predates the house by decades. This is because before there was a house at Boleskine there was an old church. One that burnt to the ground– with everyone inside it.
Not a happy place to put up a lot. Rumor has it that a tunnel was built to connect the graveyard to the house, but that is only the beginning of the tragedies that would soon fill this place with dread.
In 1899, the house was acquired by the infamous magician Aleistor Crowley for a very specific purpose. It was Crowley’s intention to use the house’s remote location to summon the hordes of demonic spirits as listed in the grimoire The Book of the Sacred Magick of Abra-Melin the Mage.
This sort of hocus pocus may sound like nothing more than a standard game of Dungeons and Dragons, but Crowley was more than deadly serious. To quote him:
“The first essential is a house in a more or less secluded situation. There should be a door opening to the North from the room of which you make your oratory. Outside this door, you construct a terrace covered in fine river sand. This ends in a ‘lodge’ where the spirits may congregate.”
With the proper house obtained Crowley set about the task of completing a complex six-month ritual that would end in disaster.
Throughout his life, Crowley mentions a continuous personal goal to make contact with his holy guardian angel. To do this he would first have to summon the forces of darkness. Strange occurrences began happening in the area, hushed whispers of it being bad luck to go near the house began to circulate. The terrified locals stayed as far away from Crowley and his house as they could. Some even stated that the impression of the cloven goat hoofs of Lucifer himself could be seen on Crowley’s river sand terrace. A couple people even went mad.
Then it happened. The crumbling leadership of the Occult order of the Golden Dawn requested the help of Crowley to bring stability to their lodge. Despite his qualms of what was surely going to happen, Crowley left Boleskine house with the ritual unfinished.
By the time he would return a canopy of perpetually dark clouds hung over the house. The man Crowley had left in charge of the house had fled and no one in the local village dared come within sight. Crowley himself soon fled too.
Madness at the Lake of Loch Ness
It has been pointed out by a few that the early sightings of the fabled Loch Ness Monster ironically coincide with the fleeing of Crowley from the house. Yet what would happen inside the house near its southern bank in the subsequent years to come would, shall it be said, blow the odd little creature out of the water.
It is recorded knowledge that most who took up residence at Boleskine either went insane or left quickly. Like the house in Amityville, there were many who could only take the oppressive and frightening strangeness for a month.
A young man left his blind wife calling out and groping through the halls as he wandered out into the hills. A military officer with no determined history of mental illness committed suicide.
The bad vibes and bad luck of the place would continue until it came into the hands of the perfect owner. The guitar god and life long Occult practitioner, Jimmy Page of the band Led Zepellin.
The Nightmarish Account of Malcolm Dent
In the early 1970s, Boleskine house came into the possession of Jimmy Page the rock star whose life is quite chronicled. What some don’t know about Page is that he really was and still is into the practice of Crowleyen magick.
Any fan of the music need not look too far to discover that throughout his life Page has spent countless hours and dime in the search of Occult relics primarily having to do with Crowley. Accompanying this hobby, despite his admittance to it, is the absolute silence Page has kept over the years regarding the matter or anything similar in nature.
Though Page admitted to encountering the spirits within Boleskine himself, it is not he who the stories come from. These events were handed down by his childhood friend, Malcolm Dent, who Page made caretaker of the property.
Dent was the perfect choice for the job. He was not to be found in the rock music scene or any scene for that matter. A down to earth man with no vice for substance Jimmy placed him in charge of the grounds while he was away.
While the master of the house was gone Dent spent most of his time trying to ignore the bumps in the night as well as fight off the not-so-peace loving Crowley hippies who would stalk the house grounds.
Did Dent know what he was getting himself into when he first came to the house and found a Pentagram, sword, and ritual room floor covered in river sand? Probably not too the extent that he would soon find out. One night he woke up to the sound of rolling crashes outside in the hall.
A thumping, thudding sound that went back and forth down the hallway. He expected the cats, but later found out he was not the first to hear these sounds. They dated back to a beheading that had taken place there some time ago. The rolling sound was the man’s head scuttling about on the floor.
Another time Dent woke up in the clutches of fear. A thing sat outside his bedroom door. It sniffed and scratched, pulling at the lock. Dent sat upright with his pocketknife and did not venture out of his room until noon the next day.
He later stated that it was the most horrifying experience of his life and that he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that whatever hunted him that night was pure evil.
Dent would go on to marry and raise a family in Boleskine house till 1991 when Jimmy Page sold the property. This brave soul passed away just last year.
Boleskine House Today
The house still stands and is open for visitation by all. For a while it was a reputable bed and breakfast where according to the new owners nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen. It is a peaceful place now surrounded by the beautiful Scottish countryside.
Ever so often throughout the years the house does come back on the market. Keep an ear open for its listing.
Salem Unveils World’s Largest Ouija Board This October
The Talking Board Historical Society will be revealing Ouijazilla this October is Salem, MA.
Rick Ormortis Schreck, the Vice President of the Talking Board Historical Society whose family has been dubbed the “real-life Addams Family,” has been hard at work preparing to crush the current world record holder for the world’s largest Ouija board.
The massive board, which has been named Ouijazilla, was constructed out of wood and hand-painted by Schreck in the classic Ouija style.
“So I finally am able to talk about the Top Secret project that I have been working on since last Summer,” Schreck posted on Instagram. “It has been a Hell of a journey and. It ain’t over yet. Stay tuned for sneak peeks at the Monster!”
Ouijazilla will be unveiled in Salem this October. More info here.
World’s Largest Ouija Board
The Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Pennsylvania currently holds the Guinness World Record for the Ouija board they painted on their roof in 2016 along with the accompanying ten-foot planchette on wheels.
I’m thrilled to see what kind of monster Ouija Schreck has created.
DNA and Genealogy Tests Reveal the Identity of a 19th Century Vampire
Imagine taking one of those genealogy tests which are so popular these days and finding out you’re a descendant of a vampire. You would undoubtedly deny it (or perhaps be proud of it) and seek to prove your point either way with a DNA test … only to find that your DNA matches up to the vampire. If your name is Barber and you have ancestors in New England, you may want to take notes and wear some extra sunblock at the beach this summer because researchers have identified a man buried as a vampire in 19th century Connecticut.
In 1990, an abandoned cemetery was found in Griswold, Connecticut. Researchers determined it to be the private cemetery of the Walton family, which owned and farmed the land from 1690 into at least the 1800s. The remains of 29 individuals were found – men, women and children – and most showed evidence of lives of hard labor. However, one stone-lined grave caught the attention of Paul S. Sledzik and Nicholas Bellantoni, who were doing research for their paper “Bioarcheological and Biocultural Evidence for the New England Vampire Folk Belief,” which was eventually published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Why?
“Upon opening the grave, the skull and femora were found in a “skull and crossbones” orientation on top of the ribs and vertabrae, which were also found in disarray. On the coffin lid, an arrangement of tacks spelled the initials “JB-55”, presumably the initials and age at death of this individual.”
In their study of New England vampire beliefs, Sledzik and Bellantoni found that the descriptions of alleged vampires generally say that the person was wasting away and losing flesh despite leading an active and otherwise normal life. This led to the belief that vampires craved food and ultimately human flesh, which is why relatives of vampires seemed to eventually suffer from the same wasting away. These are also the symptoms of tuberculosis, which was called consumption in those days and ran rampant throughout the unsanitary farms of 18th and 19th century New England. While most cemeteries of that era showed many people suffering from and dying from consumption, only JB-55 had it in the Walton cemetery.
“Several years after the burial, one or more of his family members contracted tuberculosis. They attributed their disease to the fact that J.B. had returned from the dead to “feed” upon them. To stop the progress of their disease, the body of the consumptive J.B. was exhumed so that the heart could be burned. Upon opening the grave, the family saw that the heart had decomposed. With no heart to burn, the bones of the chest were disrupted and the skull femora placed in a “skull and crossbones” position.”
According to the paper, the New England way of dealing with suspected vampires was to burn their heart, especially if blood was found in it. In this case, the heart had decomposed, so instead the family rearranged the bones into a skull-and-crossbones formation – the next best thing since decapitation was also a way of keeping a vampire in its grave.
The case of JB-55 intrigued Charla Marshall, a forensic scientist with SNA International in Alexandria, Virginia, who participated in the DNA and geneaology analyses to identify JB-55. In a presentation given recently at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland, the findings of Marshall and experts at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s DNA laboratory in Dover, Delaware, were revealed.
“When modern tools were used – Y-chromosomal DNA profiling and surname prediction via genealogy data available on the Internet – the experts said they came up with a match for the last name: Barber.”
Barber! That made it easy for the forensic experts to check old cemetery and newspaper records. As the Washington Post reports:
“They discovered a newspaper notice mentioning the death there in 1826 of a 12-year-old boy named Nathan Barber, whose father was a John Barber. Researchers had found a grave near JB’s containing a coffin with the notation NB 13 similarly tacked on the lid.”
SO, JB-55 was not a vampire but a poor farmer and father named John Barber who lost his 12-year-old son and eventually wasted away from tuberculosis, only to be later suspected of vampirically rising from the grave and attacking his own relatives before they dispatched him forever by detaching his skull and rearranging his bones.
All you New England Barbers out there — you don’t do things like that anymore, right? RIGHT?
Source: Mysterious Universe
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