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The Little Known History of the Tarot

In recent years there’s been a huge upswing of interest in the Tarot, the card-divination technique that is often claimed to have truly ancient roots, dating back to ancient Egypt (or, for some, even ‘Atlantean’ times). And with the surge of interest in the Tarot there’s also been a massive expansion in the number of decks available – in recent years here on the Grail we’ve mentioned Twin Peaks-themed deck as well the wonderful ‘Ghetto Tarot‘.

For those newcomers interested in the Tarot who are confused about its origins, and as to which of the many available decks is ‘genuine’, or at least which is the best to start with, Gaia have produced a fantastic short introductory video (embedded below).

The video consults with our good friend Mitch Horowitz, who has written on many occult traditions (including a piece on the Ouija in our Darklore anthology) and also has been involved in a separate video introduction to the Ouija board, so it’s a good common sense view of an esoteric tradition that has certainly generated plenty of speculative theories over the years.

Throughout its history, tarot has has been associated with various ancient mystery schools and esoteric ideologies. However, evidence points to a deck of cards that wasn’t used exclusively for fortune telling until centuries after its creation. Occult historian and author Mitch Horowitz sheds some light on how this powerful tool transitioned from an early version of bridge to a mystical divination tool.


SOURCE:

The Daily Grail

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Occult

‘Appraiser of Doom’ Helps Sell the Most Famous Crime Scenes

Meet the man who helped sell the Heaven’s Gate mansion, Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment building, the Sharon Tate property, and other notorious real estate.

Randall Bell with a blood stain at the Heaven's Gate mansion
Randall Bell shows a blood stain at the Heaven’s Gate mansion

Randall Bell, known as the “Appraiser of Doom” and the “Master of Disaster,” spent years evaluating commercial property in Southern California in the 1980s when the routine started to get dull. That’s when he decided to work on more interesting properties. That decision has lead him to work on some of the most infamous crime scenes in the country, including the mansion where 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide in 1997 to hitch a ride with the alien spacecraft hiding inside the Hale-Bopp comet.

“With Heaven’s Gate, I waited till after they finished taking out the bodies,” Bell recently told Rolling Stone. “But when I went in, I just wanted to barf because it smelled so bad. There had been bodies decomposing for three days, and there was blood all over the place — blood on the carpet and the marble, all throughout the house.”

Over the years Bell and his firm Landmark Research has been called in to appraise a variety of damaged real estate such as Bikini Atoll, where the US tested nuclear weapons in the 1940s and 50s, the World Trade Center, the federal building bombed by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City, Hiroshima, Columbine, Chernobyl, and all manner of natural and man-made disasters.

As far as crime scenes go, Bell has helped determine the value of property carrying the stigma of the country’s most well-known murders. Bell has worked on Sharon Tate’s house where the Manson Family murdered her and her guests in 1969, the JonBenét Ramsey house, the OJ and Nicole Brown Simpson crime scene, the Menendez house, Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment building in Milwaukee, and numerous other lower profile cases.

Bell was even among the first people allowed in the Los Feliz murder mansion 50 years after a doctor murdered his wife there. The group he was with conducted a seance while inside the home.

Los Feliz murder mansion
The Loz Feliz murder mansion

Bell says a crime scene generally sells for 10-25% loss of value.

“The Lizzie Borden house in Rhode Island, that property, they monetized that crime, if you will,” Bell says. “They have bed and breakfasts and you can sleep in the room where Lizzie Borden’s mother was murdered with an ax for hundreds of dollars a night. But as a general rule, those kinds of things don’t happen.”

So how does he determine value?

Bell uses a list of over 400 items in 10 classifications known as the Bell Chart. Items which may devalue a property include zoning changes, terrorism, contamination, landslides, and crime.

“The first rule I got is you gotta be realistic,” Bell says. “Trying to make the value go up is tough. With Neverland, that’s never gonna turn into Graceland because it’s simply too remote. You look for any opportunity, but generally speaking, a crime scene is not gonna become a museum or tourist attraction. What I’m trying to do is mitigate the damage. I’m trying to make the best I can out of a bad situation, recognizing that it’s not gonna be normal or have a normal return. You’re just trying to minimize the losses. We divide everything into 3 categories: cost, use and risk. The costs are the cleanup costs of the blood or the bullet holes or what have you. In one case, Satan worshippers were coming into the house and they started a fire inside the garage in a Satanic ritual, so those all have costs. The second element of use means the house isn’t being normally used, so there’s a way to calculate the loss of use. And the word ‘risk’ is synonymous with stigma, which means there’s a resistance on part of the market to pay full value.”

In the case of Dahmer’s apartment building, however, Bell says the property actually sold for a profit.

Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment building
The empty lot where Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment building once stood in Milwaukee

“When he was arrested, at the same time, coincidentally, there was a group called Campus Circle, and they were trying to buy up all the housing in the area that was crime-ridden where Dahmer lived and create more student housing in Marquette University.”

Bell says the Dahmer building was throwing a wrench in Campus Circle’s plans, so they bought the property. “The owner of the apartment complex knew they were highly motivated and he held out for a premium.”

Today, the building is a vacant lot surrounded by a fence. Sharon Tate’s home and the Heaven’s Gate mansion were also razed. But the locations still draw curious visitors.

The house where Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson Family in 1969
Sharon Tate’s home being torn down in 1994

“I worked on the Sharon Tate property. That property was bulldozed, and I’m telling you, tourists still go by that property to this day,” Bell told Rolling Stone. “So bulldozing doesn’t accomplish anything, really. The Heaven’s Gate mansion was bulldozed completely — the fences, the driveway, every tree — and they rebuilt on it, and people point to the property to this day, and say, ‘That was the Heaven’s Gate mansion.’”

While Bell doesn’t believe in ghosts, he says there was something strange at the Heaven’s Gate estate. While conducting tours with the media, people always said they felt unease in one particular room.

“Everyone identified the same room,” Bell says. “I kept that to myself, but the room everyone was referring to was a room where there were four bodies, two bunk beds with four bodies. There was no blood in the room, there was nothing — you gotta understand, there were 39 bodies in the house, so there were bodies in every single room, so there wasn’t anything special about that particular room, but everyone said that who I took through the house.”

Bodies being removed from the Heaven's Gate estate
Bodies being removed from the Heaven’s Gate estate

For more about Randall Bell’s experiences, how to appraise a crime scene, and how to scare off Satan worshippers read the Rolling Stone interview right here.

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Occult

Russian Witches Cast Spells to Help Vladimir Putin

If I’ve lost the witches, I’ve lost Russia.

No need to worry, President Putin. That paraphrasing of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s comment about trusted news commentator (no, that’s not an oxymoron – at least it wasn’t in 1968) Walter Cronkite’s scathing analysis of the Vietnam War is pure fiction. A group of witches in Russia have taken it upon themselves to cast spells upon the enemies of Putin and Russia. Did you just feel a needle pass through your heart or your head? Did any world leaders?

“He who hears and does not hear, who sees and does not see, who was and will be, will not forget my word: Rise the great power of Russia, direct the path of Vladimir Putin truly and righteously, through my word. Breathe, Mother Earth, embracing Russia on all sides.”

The Moscow Times and Russia Today reported on this (both sites have pictures and a video) and other spells cast this week in Moscow on behalf of Vladimir Putin by Alyona Polyn, founder of The Empire of the Strongest Witches, whose website describes the purpose of the organization:

“The main and most important objective of the EMPW is to improve the vital activities of the Earth and increase the quality of life for the people possessing knowledge – those required for the Earth to ensure interaction.”

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? The group calls for the planting of trees – not real trees but “ritual” ones that that execute “the powerful energy rituals for the recovery of the Earth.” So, it sounds like The Empire of the Strongest Witches is in favor of a green world, not one based on fossil fuels. Is this really the kind of help President Putin is looking for?

Asked exactly who Putin needed support and protection against, the witches did not provide specifics. One explained that the curses were against “all who attack him” and said that “spiteful critics” must be silenced.

That makes more sense. Support the president by cursing his enemies and critics. (In some countries, these are two different groups.)   There are probably a few other world leaders who would like that kind of support from their country’s witches, although none can pull them together in the kind of numbers Russia has. The Moscow Times provided these figures:

“According to Russian Health Ministry data, around 800,000 people earned a living from performing as folk healers, psychic mediums and other similar services in 2017.”

Not only does Russia (and President Putin) have a lot of witches, they’re organized — with The Empire of the Most Powerful Witches calling itself the “mother of all witches and witchers” and keeper of a list of legitimate witches that anyone can access to make sure they’re dealing with an authorized spell giver and not a “charlatan.” Alyona Polyn herself is available at the Empire’s headquarters in Moscow, where:

“We have gathered here to make the world better off through Russia.”

The Empire of the Most Powerful Witches states that it loves the entire Earth and “disliking any country is denying a part of the Earth, same as disliking any part of your body. A noble cause … but can they really help Mother Earth by helping Father Putin?

What will happen if Putin loses the witches? We may not want to find out.

Are you witch me or against me?

SOURCE: Mysterious Universe

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Occult

A Very Pagan Christmas Special

Explore the dark origins of Christmas with this pagan Christmas special from Macabre Mondays.

When you dig just under the surface of modern Christmas you begin to find the joyous holiday full of ghosts, monsters, and other darkness. For creeps like us it’s basically a second Halloween. Colder, yes, but with equal amounts of macabre merriment.

Macabre Mondays host Malia Miglino invites you to join her festivities as she explores the holiday’s pagan roots:

Human sacrifice, Yule logs, mistletoe…what do all 3 of these things have in common? Easy – Christmas AND Paganism. I’m breaking the door open on the origins of Christmas and Creeps, it’s DARK.

From the ancient Romans who celebrated Saturnalia to the Vikings who poisoned human sacrifices with mistletoe to Charles Dickens ghost stories….the history of Christmas is long, varied, dark and stolen. So grab some wine, prepare a feast and settle in for a crazy night of lore and Yule while I celebrate with some of my favorite ghosts of Christmas’s past.

For more Macabre Mondays subscribe on Youtube right here.

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