As the mother of four boys, I can tell you that I have walked into a messy bedroom filled with dirty clothes and smelling of a gym locker and was sure that at least the socks were alive – and scary. But there have been many instances where ordinary items have carried with them a spiritual influence, sometimes for good and sometimes not so good. Some items are so “not so good” that they are considered cursed.
So, let’s take a look at some of the good, bad, and ugly of haunted stuff.
The website Atlasobscura.com has a whole page on “6 Cursed Objects, and the Legends Behind Them.”
I’m sure this first set of cursed objects was created by an ancient librarian sitting behind a medieval circulation desk. According to Atlas Obscura, “To fend off the unscrupulous, book owners in the Middle Ages used the only power they had: words. At the beginning or the end of books, they would write dramatic curses threatening thieves with pain and suffering if they were to steal or damage these treasures: “If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever size him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen.”
Much better than a fifty cents per day fine, right?!?!?! Better start looking through those bookcases for any lingering library books. You just never know which ones are cursed!
Can pictures or paintings really manifest the spirit of the person depicted?
Recently, on Jim Harold’s Campfire podcast, one listener called in with a story from his childhood. His mother had purchased a painting of a woman with blonde hair from a house sale. She hung it up on the staircase landing, but the picture kept coming off the wall. Soon after that, other strange things began happening, like the sound of a woman sobbing throughout their home. Finally, they were awoken in the middle of the night to items being thrown across the house and screaming coming from a room downstairs. They rushed out of the house to their car, and when they looked back through the glass patio windows, they could see the woman from the painting in the middle of their living room.
But it’s not only paintings. A mass-produced image of a crying boy was supposedly found – untouched by fire – among the ashes in several homes in England in the 1980s. Let me reemphasize that – everything else in the homes was burned down, but not the picture of the crying boy.
I’m not alone in thinking that seems more cursed than coincidental. According to Atlas Obscura, The Sun newspaper, which estimated there were 30,000 copies of the image published, offered to destroy the paintings. They said, “That should see the back of any curse they may be.”
I’ve slept in some pretty uncomfortable hotel beds in my time. But I’ve never had to deal with the ghost of the bedmaker attacking me in the middle of the night.
According to Google Arts & Culture, the Great Bed of Ware was supposedly made for King Edward IV in the 15th century. Although painstakingly carved for a royal occupant, the bed spent centuries being passed between the inns of Wear. Over the years, commoners who slept in the bed covered it in graffiti and damaged the fine carvings, leaving the frame looking battered and worn. And, according to legend, carpenter Jonas Fosbrooke, who made the bed for the king, was so enraged by the disrespectful treatment of his work that his ghost attacks any commoner who dares to sleep in it. Luckily for those of us not of royal blood, the bed is currently safely on display in the V&A in London.”
A new rule that should be an old rule. Don’t steal jewelry from burial sites, eyes of statues, or any ancient collections. Maybe – just don’t steal.
The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous diamonds in the world and probably one of the most cursed. It was said to have originated in the Kollur Mine in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Google Arts & Culture offers this description of the famous gem, “According to legend, the stone is cursed and brings misfortune to anyone who owns it. The curse is said to have come about when the original diamond was stolen from the eye of a statue. The thief met a grisly end, kickstarting a pattern of misfortune for all who possessed the diamond. Over the years, owners of the Hope Diamond have befallen fates, including death by murder, execution and suicide, bankruptcy, and imprisonment. Thankfully, the curse seems to have lifted when the diamond was donated to the Smithsonian in 1958.”
I’ll look into more haunted and cursed items next week. In the meantime, be careful what you bring home from the antique store.