New Werewolf Series, LGBT Cast, Adventure/Action/SciFi/Horror

Hey fellow furries, werewolf fans, scalies and featherheads: If you are a fan of werewolf/anthro novels and series, check out my series on Amazon, in both ebook and paperback!
 
One of the few series out there with a gay male lead as well and lots of big furry fellas! (and beautiful ladies)!
 
Check it out!
When you’ve read them, please feel free to leave reviews on their Amazon store pages! More books in the series are on the way! Look for the first two to go on sale in February.
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New Book Series by The Author: Werewolves, adventure, romance and danger! WOLF gets published and goes live on Amazon!

Dear Readers,

You’ve been with me for a long time and I thank you for that. This little creep corner of the internet that has been my home for a time is now expanding because today, I wanted to announce, somewhat belatedly, that my book series, WOLF is being published on Amazon in E book (Kindle format. You can download the free Kindle app from the App Store on iOs and Android and for PC!) and paperback formats!

In the WOLF series, after a chance encounter with an angry patient, a hospital security guard’s life is turned upside down and he is thrust into a gritty world of werewolves and true monsters. Who will he become? With his life turned upside down, he must decide what identity means and ultimately rise to meet his destiny. Along the way he will meet friends, enemies and discover that he is much more than he ever thought possible as he discovers his true self.

The book is set in 2018 in a modern city. Werewolves are not supernatural but rather biological and live openly among society, trying to make a living and survive an ever changing world that presents challenges and triumphs as they try to get along with their human neighbors and family, all the while a larger threat looms dangerously on the horizon; the impact from that threat will forever alter the world. As one of the few books of this genre with an openly gay male lead protagonist, its also a new representation for what LGBT people can be: proud heroes who are not defined by their sexuality but rather by the content of their character, for good or ill.

The first book in the series is available now on Amazon for $5.99 (e-book) or $7.99 (paperback). All sales that I make with the books will go towards turning the story into comics, artwork and more to expand the universe of the characters and eventually, my hope is to make it to some of the bigger conventions and engage with my readers more, both with spook real word stories and investigations, as well as the world of WOLF, with all its werewolves, comedy, heartbreak, action and adventure.  I’ve found the story in WOLF to ultimately be one about change and hope in the face of the greatest darkness: ourselves.

It would mean the world to me if you could visit the book page, buy a copy and leave an honest review. Every bit helps.

Thank you,  dear readers, from myself, my editor and the entire cast of WOLF. Keep your paws up and stay furry, always.

Buy WOLF Book 1 Here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M5PRCV5

— A.G.M.

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Please support “WOLF” on WattPad and help me spread the word!

Hello everyone! Do you like werewolves and shape-shifters? Then take a peek at this!!

Cover art from “Wolf.”

I have a personal request of you, my dear readers. I normally write technical and non-fiction articles about the paranormal but did you know that I also write fiction and other works, including short stories and even some poetry?

I have an account on Wattpad that stores my work, including the one I’m most proud of, my very own original novel, set in my own original universe called “Wolf.”

If you enjoy your stories loaded with werewolves set in a dark gritty modern day city, with drama, intrigue and action and adventure, then you may want to check it out. Its posted there and updated regularly as new parts are posted. I’m also working with a fantastic artist, NuriMuniBuni, (you can click her name to visit her page, view her portfolio and even commission her work!) to produce art from the book!

Brian D. MacGregor, the protagonist of “Wolf.”

Please check out and subscribe to my Wattpad (You can access WattPad from any PC and they have a free and amazing e-reader app for iOS and Android, too!) and Author’s Facebook pages (you can find updates, character and lore trivia, artwork, polls, live streams and more on the Facebook page) and share them! I’d love to hear some of your feed back on my writing, especially on “Wolf.” You can even leave your feedback and thoughts on chapters at the end of each one!

Thank you all and have a great day! This would mean the world to me!

Wattpad Page Link: https://www.wattpad.com/user/CaptBoomPup

Wattpad! Its amazing place for writers of all genre to get together and share their work! Click above to be taken righ to the reading page for “Wolf” and then click “Read” on the page once it opens. Enjoy!

Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/agmilhorn/

Please like, share and subscribe to my author’s Facebook page! You can click the link above or just click this image!

 

– Anthony M.

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Paranormal Photography: Auras, Lens Flares and Psychological Priming.

 

 

As a ghost hunter and investigator, I often get asked to review photographs as well as audio and video recordings. I love doing it because I get to interact with people who’ve had, in their opinion, unusual experiences that they cannot yet explain. Often times, these people are scared and don’t know how to process what is occurring to them and it brings me a great joy in being able to help these people understand what is happening and bring them a small measure of peace of mind. At other times, they are simply curious and want to know more and sadly, investigators must also be on the lookout for fraud.

Below is one recent (and stellar!) example of curious folks who happen to catch something odd and I’m providing it because I think it dovetails really well into a point that I have to make often with people who have experiences and interpret them a certain way. It also is a great example of how important understanding psychology is to ghost hunting (at least if you do it in a professional manner not chasing dust balls and doing the fake 3 AM YouTube challenges). We covered orbs in another article but this time I’d like to cover another photography angle (a small in joke there, you’ll see why later): Len’s flare.

When I review pieces such as photographs and recordings, I like to have as much environmental data as possible about the image and the circumstances and location. Below is what information that was sent, including images of a burned out tree which had been turned into a shrine by locals and a few photos of the surrounding area in which bright purple flares were captured on film, like auras. I’ve attached at least two examples of this purple light in this post. Anyway, here is the email (I’ve redacted names and identifying information):

EMAIL:

******************

“At first glance I dismissed this mysterious “pink glare” just that, a glare due to the rays of sun. But, upon further review(the pic of the mountain side that’s to the right of this tree for example) shoes that this “mist/fog” has some mass and/or 3 demensional aspect to it. As if it was smoke or something of the sort. There were no fires or smoke visible or even a smell in the area in the moment these images were captured.

Date and time the recording/image was taken:
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2017 approx. 3:30-4:30p.m.

Location image/recording was taken:
ON THE SIDE OF SIERRAY HIGHWAY BETWEEN SANTA CLARITA, CA AND AGUA DULCE, CA.

Who was present:
Myself (Taking the pictures) and my wife ( you can see her but on the back side of tree there’s a big branch she was sitting on hidden by the trunk in the images)

Type of machine that captured the image: My iPhone 7

The first time I’ve seen “The Virgin Mary” tree start being mentioned is in 2005 when they (the townspeople of Agua Dulce) started seeing people leave flowers and letters/prayers for themselves and/or their loved ones. There was a violent brush fire in 2007 which started in Agua Dulce and ended in Santa Clarita. Although trees that had burned along the way had been cut down “The Mary tree” although also burned along the way, was not burned enough to where it had to be cut down not enough for them to cut it down. And so it still stands. They say the Virgin Mary image was much more prominent before the fire.

Back story: there is a lot of documented history in this land said to be old sacred Indian land which lead to a sacred Indian burial ground finding near the same Agua Dulce area.”

 

— “Anonymous”.

*********************

treepictwo

(Notice the purple-pink aura near the tree top?)

treepicone

(Again, the pinkish purple glow yet in this photo we have a clue as to its source. Do you see it?)

So as an investigator, the first thing I do before I even look at the images is analyze the data provided. There was no weather or climate data, no barometric pressure measurements or EMF or temperature baselines so I move onto the date and time and location. The location is Agua Dulce, California and the date and time is December 25th (Christmas) between three and four thirty that afternoon. Pulling up the weather for that day and location gives me the following data:

The average temperature was 66 degrees F with the high for the day at 69 degrees. The moisture had a dew point measurement of about 25 with no precipitation and winds of about 1 MPH in a northern direction. Visibility was about ten miles with clear conditions for that time range.

That tells me it was a beautiful warm and clear sunny day in Agua Dulce and that during that time range there were no weather based phenomenon to give us weird anomalies. Or were there? We’ll come back that. There actually was and it caused the photos in question.

The second thing I look at is the location’s history and local cultural significance.

In this case, it was The Virgin Mary Tree. In 2005, along the Sierra Highway, someone noticed that that a tree among several others, seemed to have an image of the Virgin Mary on it. It quickly became a very popular spot among the faithful and those seeking healing, blessings or a miracle. In 2007, a fire started by accidental arson by a 10 year old boy playing with matches exploded in the area and unfortunately did massive amounts of damage to 38,000 acres of land and destroyed 21 homes. The tree managed to survive the fire while the others around it had to be taken down. Even damaged and badly scarred, the tree became even more of a popular attraction for those of faith and continues to be so today.

So what do we have? We have a location that is culturally significant for the perceived image of the Virgin Mary to which people ascribe powers of blessings, healings and miracles, essentially turning it into a holy shrine. Most who visit the shrine are religious people who are in need of support and aid that they feel they are not getting elsewhere and with nowhere else to turn, they turn to the miraculous. Others who visit are curious passersby and tourists, and sadly others are vandals and people who are hateful and destructive.

Upon having the preconceived notion of entering a holy site or being present at a site that is said to be holy and special, most people enter a frame of mind that puts them into a quiet respectful in awe mind set. As rational investigators, we know that the image of the Virgin Mary isn’t really there. We know that the Virgin Mary isn’t really there and its just a random pattern of lines, shadows and grooves that play with our minds natural tendency to make a recognized shape out of chaos. This is called pareidolia and it’s why we can recognize faces but as you can see, it has drawbacks.

So in combination with pareidolia, we have the conception of a place being holy and magical, even if we aren’t faithful and people seeing the tree as surviving the fire as proof of its power thus the mindset psychologically prepares them, even unconsciously, to label anything that is unusual or strange to the paranormal and supernatural, even its something they would not normally do that with and rationally explain. Their frame of reference has been changed in the moments they are at the location and in the moments they view any captured events in. They are no longer looking at it rationally but emotionally.

Now that we know about the environmental conditions, the location’s history, its cultural significance, the frame of mind and psychology of the witness and the claimants and the neurology of the human brain, what do we have? We have an answer to what is causing our purple flares.

Lens flare caused by bright sunlight!

It’s a bright sunny day outside and the images are all of subjects that are in a heavy mix of light and shadow with a bright clear sky behind the subject facing directly into the camera lens. While it may not appear bright to our eyes (reasonably), to the camera lens and sensor the light is blinding. This light will enter the camera lens— a camera lens is actually a combination of several lenses that when aligned correctly capture not only the original image but the proper mix of colors and shadows without warping it. A single lens on its own wouldn’t work for photography—bounce around the lens structures and the cameras inner workings and finally strike the sensor that records the image.

This will take the image and record it, giving you a picture. However, at the right angles, this bright light will do all the before mentioned behaviors but will cause a brilliant flare to be recorded on the picture as well as the original image. Most commonly, these flares are purple, pink, white, greenish or greenish-white and often occur towards the edges of the field of view. The camera isn’t broken. Essentially what is happening is that, at the right angles, the photons entering the lens bounce around at 186,000 miles per second like mini suns which in turn behave like ping pong balls before striking the sensor and overloading it in little tiny supernova of light instead of properly activating the sensor allowing for a clean shot. This aberration will produce a pronounced lens flare or corona.

Now, given that most people know what lens flares are (generally speaking if not the specific mechanics), they recognize them and dismiss them and simply re-orient themselves and take another picture from a new angle that doesn’t have the flares since most the time, these flares are viewed in real time in the view finder. However, if you are in a location that is considered a holy location and has been associated with miracles whether they are true or not, your brain is primed to be on the lookout for anything special or strange.

When you see the flares, your brain overrides your rational thinking and you go “AHA! It’s a strange miracle/supernatural event that I cannot explain!” This reaction is so strong it can sometimes override our other rational behaviors like calmly studying or listening and instead goes to activate our flight or fight response (ever hear a weird noise outside and you immediately freeze as the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and nine times out of ten no one could pay you enough money to go deeper into the woods to see what made the noise even as your mind floods your primal brain with imagined terrors from your darkest nightmares).

It’s the same thing.

What we have here is the perfect convergence of mental frame of reference, priming, pareidolia and the environment working just right with the sometimes contradictory actions of our brains to produce what some call unusual or strange events when in reality, stripping away the mysticism it’s just lens flare.

Now, I’m not going to assume whether or not the submitters were people of faith; I have no way of knowing. It doesn’t matter. It’s a primal instinctive reaction our brains engage in when in situations as described above and even with 14 years of investigating behind me, I have to immediately shut it down and it takes effort every time to do it so that I can be impartial and objective. It’s as strong as the reaction your body gets when your face gets wet.

When your face gets wet, your body automatically shifts oxygenation priority to your brain and heart, drawing oxygen away from other parts of your body, slowing your heart rate down. It happens nearly instantly and you can feel it happen. It almost makes you want to gasp. This is called the diving reflex and it allows mammalian vertebrate animals (Including humans. Yes, that includes you. You are an animal! ROAR!) to be underwater for longer periods and to survive.

Test it.

Next time you are in the shower, pay attention to what happens to your heart rate and your breathing and rate of thought when your face gets wet. This can be used to your advantage by the way; why do you think so many people splash water on their faces to get woke up or to calm down in tense situations? It’s because it floods your brain and heart with oxygen, preparing you for action and this especially true for cold water. It literally shocks your body awake instinctively into survival mode, juicing up your brain for action.

The instinct and psychological priming in the instances mentioned above are equally as strong as the diving reflex and like the diving reflex it serves a purpose, to help us survive and navigate situations that are dangerous or could present a threat, even if it’s just perceived danger not an actual threat.

Our world is strange but our brains are far stranger; they can do miraculous things, such as memorize an entire cityscape and reproduce it down to the street level with just one viewing, perform rapid and extreme calculations, block pain and form a huge part of who we are but they are also prone to seeing faces in trees, trains in clouds and turning lens flares into supernatural events. The only way to navigate this treacherous and weird world is ironically to use your brain but with the caveat to be cautious.

Nearly all supernatural, religious and unusual events, including recordings, can be explained in this manner: a powerful convergence of frame of reference, pareidolia, primal instinct and the desire to see or experience the unknown with a dash of environmental help from the outside world. Not all events, obviously, can be explained this way, but a great many can.

Keep searching and keep on the journey.

— Anthony.

 

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The Old Yorktown Hospital, narrated by Loren Dean.

Hey everyone! I was honored by Loren Dean aka the YouTuber lorenshining when she asked if she could narrate the article on the Old Yorktown Hospital. I said yes and she not only narrated it, but spiced it up with her own experiences and haunting voice. Check it out and give her some likes and follows!

Loren lives in Australia and is an accomplished tattoo and visual artist.

The Old Yorktown Hospital: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ3DdH6W_xQ&t=1127s

Loren’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/lorenshining

 

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Theory in the Paranormal: Misuse of terms and technology. How can we move forward?

This will be a short article but it’s something that I thought about this morning as I got ready for the day, the notion lighting up in my as of yet non-caffeinated brain like fireworks.

Many times, I have been reading a paranormal blog, a website or seen a show focused on the paranormal feature investigators and “experts” talking about a given subject in the field.

When they do this, they often use the words “hypothesis”, “theory”, and “experimental”, usually waving around some technical wizardry.

When they do, they are harming the attempt to have the study of the strange recognized as a valid scientific endeavor by proper accredited scientists.

Why?

It’s a two-pronged problem: First, it is a simple misunderstanding of terminology, a misstep in language that is causing more harm than bringing any sense of legitimacy to a field that is sadly often riddled with hoaxers, crack pots and fame chasers, not to mention seasonal “hunters” who show up every Halloween or at the premiere of a new ghost hunting show. Secondly, the use of unproven, untested technology or using pre-existing technology incorrectly or for things for which it was never meant to be used for.

Quickly, let’s look at the first problem.

Language and terminology.

I often see people (and I myself have been and occasionally still am guilty of doing this) speak of the theory of ghosts, the theory of how cold spots work, the theory on electromagnetism and ghosts being related.

 
Here’s the rub: None of those are theories. Not even one of them would stand up at all to scientific scrutiny even at a high school level of physics. Why? Because a theory is defined thus:

 
“…a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment, not guesses but reliable accounts of the real world.”


Essentially, for it to be a theory it must be repeatedly testable under the scientific method and falsifiable (it can be proven false…example…. “All cars are green”. The existence of a multitude of colors proves this wrong in a concrete manner).

That’s just theory. Then you have hypothesis. A hypothesis is an explanation proposed after observing phenomenon that can be tested using the scientific method. The theory is what comes after the hypothesis and multiple tests that can be used to further research and be refined. Most scientists do not use the term hypothesis for an “educated guess”. In fact, when it comes to the paranormal, we cannot even make an educated guess as that would require working from at least a bare-bones set of facts that are not based in supposition.

Experiment is another sticky area. Essentially, a proper scientific experiment is an organized and detailed series of steps in a controlled environment with repeatable and adjustable variables that will validate or refute a given hypothesis in accordance with the scientific method.

Let’s take a moment and review the scientific method. From Appendix E: Introduction to the Scientific Method, from Rochester University:
(http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html)

The scientific method has four steps:

1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

 
If the experiments bear out the hypothesis it may come to be regarded as a theory or law of nature (more on the concepts of hypothesis, model, theory and law below). If the experiments do not bear out the hypothesis, it must be rejected or modified.

As you can see, we in the paranormal field cannot yet apply this method to our work and we should not be using terms like “hypothesis” or theory, let alone experimental to describe what we do. We use them in the common vernacular but when we are upset that scientific circles do not take us seriously, the reason is clear as to why: we are using and throwing around words and concepts that many of do not understand or use them in such a way with an implicit understanding in the common way which is not how science works.

Science works by being exact, not fleeting or nebulous.

Essentially what we are doing is we are describing our ideas, our biases and our preconceived notions about psychic phenomenon with these words and that will not do. Not anymore. We need to move beyond that. As physicist Richard Feynman said, “Smart people (like smart lawyers) can come up with very good explanations for mistaken points of view.” John Keel once said the problem is not with what you saw, but rather how you interpreted what you saw and into which frame of reference you tried to put it. I’ll add to these already monumentally good points that it all comes down to how you describe in writing and in your communications to others your ideas.

 
Instead of saying “we have a theory about ghosts…” we should stop and realize that ghosts aren’t even proven to exist. We should realize that we are ascribing a name to a set of strange and wild phenomenon our notion of an afterlife or soul. We should then state instead of theory that we have a “conjecture” about this phenomenon, since a conjecture is an opinion or conclusion formed based on incomplete information and nothing more. Despite sounding derogatory, its rather refreshing to think that some of the best understood and concrete laws of nature in science started as mere conjecture.

Moving on, I’d like to tack the use of technology in the paranormal.

Specifically, things like electromagnetic field detectors, infra-red temperature guns, etc. I’ll just state it bluntly: Those devices were meant for measuring specific and well known environmental factors and are meant to be used in very specific ways and will only measure those specific factors. You cannot measure a cold spot with a non-contact infra-red laser thermometer. You must use an ambient air temperature probe (a thermocouple).

 

You cannot measure an electromagnetic field and say it’s a ghost or a sign of ghostly presences. Even if you ruled out conventional explanations, all you are left with is an anomaly for which there is no present explanation. Assigning to it our biases and beliefs about the afterlife does a great disservice to investigators and researchers who are trying to understand why those anomalies exist.

A splendid example of using EMF detectors is the Cell-Sensor and its many pop culture derivatives. It’s a single-axis meter, meaning it measures an electromagnetic field in a single dimension at any given time. I see investigators, especially newer teams, waving around this meter and its probe making great proclamations about the readings with every alarm and flash of the red light indicating a change in the EMF fields around them, completely forgetting it’s a single axis meter, let alone making wild claims.

Cell Sensor EMF detector.

As a single axis meter, you would need to take measurements at least in three dimensions with the probe, forward and back, up and down and side to side. You would then need to manually record and add up and average out the results to get a rough idea of the true measurement of that given field if you use a single axis meter (same goes for a double axis meter like the K2 and the insane notion it can communicate with the dead).
No team I’ve ever seen does this. So not only are they making wild assumptions, they are often never writing down data and putting it to use and they are not making any attempt at a conventional explanation and then after eight hours of running around in the dark, misusing more pieces of equipment for things it was never intended, they proclaim ten demons are haunting the house based on the feelings and ignorance of science and recommend an exorcist to the now thoroughly terrified home owner.

K2 Meter.

This goes double for devices like the geophone and the Frank’s Box (I hate that thing…. I really do). Devices like this are interesting but they do not do what their creators think they do. The geophone simply measures seismic activity, and in no way, can you ever state that activity was due to the soul of a dead person walking around. The Frank’s Box is even worse. It’s a modified radio that constantly scans up and down the AM band and occasionally a word or phrase will come out from a station that was locked in enough for just a few moments and people use it like a phone to the other side.

Frank’s Box.

The flashlight gag is another bane of my existence. Simply put that is not a ghost but a shaky circuit trying to make a connection, nothing more.

Many groups engage with these activities and missteps and expect to be taken seriously and scoff at or get angry when a skeptic puts them in their place (for good reason). These groups do not keep data logs, they do no analysis to look for patterns, they thrill seek by and large. Even more respectable groups have fallen victim to some of these behaviors (and my team was among them in the early days).

A geophone.

In conclusion, for us to grow, for us to really make a headway into understanding psychic events and experiences, we need to change our behaviors away from the gimmicky, from the conjecture and start using collected data to draw a proper hypothesis. To do this, we must disregard all our previous notions and beliefs. We must start with a blank slate, objectively divorcing ourselves from all the previous conceptions of ghosts, demons, religion and angels. We must be rigorous and unyielding in our commitment to quality and detail, to the written word.

It’s not going to be easy, but I truly believe that if we can do this, we can make paranormal investigation a legitimate area of study, far removed from the hobby it is today. Are we brave enough to break with the established dogma and start a new journey where, to steal from Star Trek, no one has gone before?

Posted in Technical Article | 3 Comments

Castle Stuart: Strange Connections and a Haunting that Killed.

It’s Saturday and today I’m thinking about connections, how the pieces of history and our lives often fall together in strange ways and even weirder coincidences.

It’s usually a day that I do nothing on but today was different. Today, I decided I would start a new habit (at least try to). I decided that I will write something every day, no matter what it is. I was digging through my literature and my library in my office and at my other desk downstairs for inspiration and came across an article in Dennis Hauck’s International Guide to Haunted Places. An old favorite, its covers and the covers of its companion, Haunted Places: The National Directory, have seen better days with extreme wear and tear.

I spent many nights pouring through each entry in my early ghost chasing days. As I recreated the past, the pages flipping through my fingers with the scent of old paper flooding my nose, I came across one of the many dog-eared pages. I stopped to read it over, to see if I could remember why I marked this set of articles. Then I saw that I had not only dog-eared it but committed the cardinal sin (to a librarian anyway) of writing in the book. In blue ink the words “possible radio show topic” were scrawled and underlined in my choppy handwriting. Below, I saw the title of the article. It was a sprawling two-page affair about Castle Stuart in Scotland.

I read over it and found out that I had a personal connection to the history of Castle Stuart as nebulous as it was at any rate. Castle Stuart is a stunning structure located in the Highlands not far from Aberdeen (no, not Katniss Aberdeen), just across the border of County Grampian. Castle Stuart is what is known as a tower house, meaning it was meant for double duty as both a defensive structure as well as a residence. The tower house style began to appear in the Middle Ages and it served to make buildings a command center as well as create a location with defensible strategic points while reducing the number of troops needed (Toy, 1985).

Standing tall and stark against the rolling lands of green, Castle Stuart is a dark red stone and brick construction with narrow windows and a soaring set of towers. It looks every bit like a haunted castle in every movie you can think of and that assumption would be quite right. Construction was started by the first Earl of Moray, James Stewart, the illegitimate son of King James the V and was half-brother to Mary Queen of Scots. The family connection comes not from James Stewart but rather Mary’s son, James the VI. My family belongs to Clan Gregor (MacGregor).

In 1603, after a set of violent raids between the MacGregor’s and the Clan Colquhoun (pronounced Cal-hoon), Alistair MacGregor and his men trapped and killed over 140 prisoners of war including, according to court records, a group of school boys who had stopped to watch the battle between the MacGregors and the Calquhouns.

Captured by King James’s men, Alistair and his men were put on trial and found guilty and summarily tortured and publicly executed. At the time of Alistair’s trial, James drafted a new law on April 3, 1603 called the Proscriptive Acts of Clan Gregor, which “altogether abolished” the surname of MacGregor and called for anyone who bore the name and refused to change it to be executed, women and children included. MacGregor men were killed outright while women were stripped, branded, whipped and paraded through the streets in England and afterwards sold into slavery in the colonies in North America. It was essentially a license to kill. This ban on our family’s surname lasted for 57 years and was finally overturned in or around 1660.

In short, the builder and owner of Castle Stuart was related to the king who nearly wiped my family from existence (not saying that Alistair and the 17 men who were found guilty did not deserve punishment. Giving into their bloodlust like that was uncalled for and my family have always been warriors, both in ancient times when we were called the Children of the Mist, to Rob Roy, even today as hockey players and actors who go on to be Jedi Knights).


I found that connection interesting and so decided I would dedicate this piece to Castle Stuart and its equally bloody history.

James Stewart began construction on Castle Stewart roughly in 1561. Not long after its construction, Stewart himself was violently assassinated on January 23, 1570 by a supporter of his half-sister, Mary Queen of Scots, James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh. Hamilton shot Stewart as he passed by in a cavalcade with a carbine. It was the first recorded assassination by firearm.

The castle itself would not be finished until 1625 when the final stone was laid by the third Earl of Moray, ironically enough who also bore the name James Stuart, but this time using the spelling that became the family’s calling card. He himself died in 1638. It seemed like the house itself was destined not to be built but in truth, after its completion, it did see quite a few years of prosperity.

It was just before the English Civil War (1642-1651) that the castle itself had its first major tragedy. In 1629, the feud between the Stuarts and the McIntosh reached its apex. 500 of Clan McIntosh attacked and sacked Castle Stuart. The siege was brutal and finally, the Stuart family decided that escape was preferable to death and they fled from Castle Stuart, never to return. In 1649, King Charles, a Stuart descendent, was executed, adding another bloody chapter to the Stuart family book but it was nothing compared to what happened next on the green moors.

On April 16, 1746 the tensions between the French supported Jacobites and the British crown came to a head in the explosive legendary conflict known today as the Battle Of Culloden. It was the final battle of the Jacobite uprising and the capstone of a larger religious war burning across England and Scotland during this period. It was not a battle that ended in the favor of the Jacobites, with the group losing horrendously to the loyalist forces of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. Estimates put the Jacobite losses at roughly 1,500 to 2,000 men, not to mention the continued campaign of brutality waged by Augustus which earned him the sobriquet of The Butcher (Battle of Culloden, 2017).


The battle took place not far from the grounds of Castle Stuart, drenching the soil in blood that ran deep and that even today produces tension among both historians and descendants. Even by this time, with the castle abandoned, the structure had already gained a reputation of being haunted. The end of the Battle of Culloden saw the fall of the rule of the clans and with its closure, the Stuarts could finally return to Castle Stuart after 117 years of it sitting abandoned, a lonely shell witness only to silence, shadows and atrocities.

Around this time, another Earl of Moray attempted to make Castle Stuart a home. He was unable to get the peace and quiet he desperately wanted, his servants telling him horror stories of nightmarish screams, voices, apparitions and moving objects. Fed up with what he thought were the hallucinations and wild ghost stories of the weak minded, the Earl was determined to prove his house was not haunted and offered a reward to any man who was brave enough to spend the night in Castle Stewart, specifically in the room at the very top of the East Tower. The room had gained a reputation of being haunted by the devil and the Earl wasn’t having any of it.

Four local men took him up on his offer: a minister, an elder in the Presbyterian church, a shoemaker and lastly, a rough and rowdy type named Robert Angus.

The plan was simple: Each of them would spend an entire night in the haunted room. They would be locked in and in the morning, they would be let out. They were not to speak a word until all four of them had spent a night and then would compare their experiences.

The first to go in was the minister.

He found the room furnished comfortably. He made himself at home and promptly fell asleep.

The minister’s rest did not last.

The sounds of someone in the room echoed as heavy footsteps moved across the floor. Opening his eyes, the minister felt his heart drop as he saw a large powerfully built man covered in blood, very much dead, walking towards him. The apparition said nothing and slowly sat in a chair next to the minister, staring at him.

The minister awoke and realized he was dreaming. The dream felt far too real and he did not sleep the rest of the night.

On the second night, it was the church elder’s turn. The church elder did not fall asleep but rather read his Bible by candlelight. As he read, the room grew ice cold and he looked up as movement caught his eye. A man, a huge blood covered man, stepped through the wall of the tower like it was air. Frozen in terror, the elder saw the wall behind the blood covered man shimmer and move, rippling, it turned into a mirror and in it, he saw only a skull reflected. Growling, the apparition demanded to know what he was doing, drawing its dagger and advancing slowly towards the elder.

The next morning, the others unlocked the door to find the elder unconscious on the floor, having passed out from fright.

The shoemaker took his turn, though by now, it was with great reluctance. He built a fire in the fireplace and sat by it, praying for safety. At midnight, the locked door to the room opened, slowly, creaking on its hinges. Petrified, the shoemaker turned to see a form standing in the doorway, made of shadow and darkness. He saw the figure had no feet but instead had cloven hooves. The form seemed to shudder and shake as twin red orbs formed where its eyes would be. He cried out in terror as the thing leapt at him like an animal and he too was found unconscious the next day. Both he and church elder did not recover from their encounters for months, both scared beyond imagination.


At last, it was Rob Angus’s turn and he took it bravely, stating to the three who had come before, “You will find me as I am or dead. None other.” He claimed he was afraid of nothing. He was locked in as the others were and it was the last time anyone saw Robert Angus alive. The next day, the door was unlocked and to the shock of everyone, Robert Angus was not there. The room had been destroyed, furniture ripped apart, bedding destroyed. It looked like a tornado had torn through the room and the window, the narrow window that looked out over the fields, was shattered with no glass inside the room, meaning something had gone through it.

The three men made their way over to the window and looked out of its sorry remains; there, on the castle grounds, lay the broken twisted body of Robert Angus, an expression of terror frozen on his shattered face.

 
A farmer who had been working his herd that night, moving his sheep past Castle Stuart, swore that just after midnight he heard loud screams and what sounded like a terrible struggle. He looked up towards the castle tower and saw lights flashing with roars and screams. He watched as the window exploded outward and the body of a large man was hurled through it, taking the frame with him to his death below where he landed with a sickening wet crunch. Looking up at the empty frame, the farmer swore he saw a face floating there, the face he swore on his Bible, was that of the devil incarnate.

Unable to disprove the haunting, the Earl did the best he could with what he had and tried to force a home out of the haunted estate.

It wasn’t long before disaster struck Castle Stuart again, this time in 1798. A violent lightning storm struck, ripping off the roof of the East Tower, causing extreme damage to the wing. Rather than repair it, the Stuarts, already pushed to their limit, sealed off the entire wing instead of repairing the damage.

With the death of Charles and suffering from the English Civil War, the Stuarts abandoned their home again and this time it was for much longer.

Castle Stuart sat for 300 years, passing through different owners, none of whom could either capture the castle’s glory days or stay for any length of time with whispers barely spoken of ghosts and the dead. Finally, in 1930, James Cameron, a Canadian, bought the property and set about repairing the ravages of time and despair (Hauck, 2001). During the restoration, Cameron came across a doorway, deliberately hidden behind plaster.

Behind this door was a stairwell that lead down and dead ended at a wall.

Curious, Cameron tapped on the wall and found it was hollow. He raised his hammer and brought it down. The moment his hammer put a crack into the plaster of the dead-end wall, he claims he heard a voice come out of the air screaming “NO!” He shrugged it off and hit the wall again.

This time he reported he felt two hands shove him hard enough to knock him off his ladder, throwing him to the ground but the damage was done: His hammer had broken through the sealed wall completely.


A stench began to waft through the hole he had punched, the fetid sick sweet smell of decay and the cloying thick heavy wet scent of rotten flesh. Thoroughly terrified, Cameron bolted for the front door and when he stepped outside, he cursed as he remembered he would have to go back inside for his tools. It already getting dark outside and he did not want to go back in, unable to convince himself it was his imagination. After a moment, he steeled himself, and turned on his car headlights, aiming them into the open doorway of the castle. Carefully, he propped the front door open and went back inside for his tools.

Making his way back to the hidden chamber, Cameron had just reached his tools when he heard the sound he least wanted to hear: the sound of the heavy front door slamming shut.

Instantly he was in darkness.

Frightened beyond any capacity for rational thought, he blindly fumbled his way back up the stairs and to the main door. He yanked on it, and found it would not open as if it were held shut by a force with immense strength. Unseen, twin huge hands wrapped themselves around Cameron and began to pull him back into the darkness. He could feel the thick cold fingers through his clothes as they squeezed him.

Screaming, with adrenaline fueled strength, he managed to rip open the front door and bolted into the night, jumping into his car and never returned to Castle Stuart.
Once again, the old house was abandoned.

In 1977, Richard Charles Stuart, a descendant, bought the property and refurbished and restored it, turning it into a successful hotel with an accompanying golf course. The first wedding in 400 years took place in May of 1993 (CastleStuart.com, 2017). The owners do not shy away from their haunted history and to this day, have the restored tower room open for guests, if they are brave enough to stay a night there.

Like the Bell Witch and Amityville hauntings, the haunting at Castle Stuart claimed a life. It is rare in the annals of ghost hunting to come across such tales, let alone with confirmed historical facts to back it up.

What do we make of the haunting of Castle Stuart? Why was there a secret area, sealed off in plaster? Storm damage perhaps…. Maybe something else? The castle will hold its secrets, locked in stone and blood and it’s not going to tell anyone. It appears that those who get too close to the truth and haunted history of Castle Stuart may not live to tell the tale.

In the end, we find connections were we least expect them. In this case, the builder of what turned out to be a haunted house (and the victim of the world’s first assassination by firearm) was the half-brother to Mary Queen of Scots, whose son would later go on to almost exterminate my family’s legacy.

Strange how things work out when you open a book, eh?

Sources:

Toy, S. (1985). Castles: their construction and history. New York: Dover.

Battle of Culloden. (2017, April 07). Retrieved April 08, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Culloden

Duhaime, L. (2013, October 31). 1604, The Abolition of the Surname Macgregor. Retrieved April 08, 2017, from http://www.duhaime.org/LawMuseum/LawArticle-1593/1604-The-Abolition-of-the-Surname-Macgregor.aspx

Hauck, D. W. (2001). The international directory of haunted places: ghostly abodes, sacred sites, and other supernatural locations. New York: Penguin.

Castle Stuart – Luxury accommodation in Inverness Scotland. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/19981206224541/http://www.castlestuart.com/html/history.htm

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