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12/21/07  #448
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In This Yule-Time Issue We Bring You Such Stories As:

- Sandia Supercomputers Offer New Explanation of Tunguska Disaster -
- The Star of the Magi -
- Japan's Top Government Spokesman Says He Believes in UFOs -
- Mystery Death of Chinese Teenager Triggers School Panic -
AND:  The Lost Tradition of Christmas Ghost Stories

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


YOU CAN LEARN THE MAGICAL WAYS OF THE KAHUNA -
SO POWERFUL ARE THEIR SUPERNATURAL POWERS THAT IT IS SAID THEY CAN BRING BACK THE DEAD!



KAHUNA POWER - By Timothy Green Beckley

Twenty odd years ago paranormalist Timothy Green Beckley toured the Hawaiian islands to seek out answers to its deepest mysteries. He spoke with the native Hawaiians about phantom animals, supernatural powers, the existence of invisible beings, helpful spooks, playful spirits, the volcano Goddess Pele who appears in physical form before an eruption as well as the local version of UFOs or ghost lights.

Now after a second trip to the Islands, an updated version is being made available to those who wish to enter a seldom glimpsed society and to understand a spiritual system which is still virtually unknown to the outside world. By practicing the ancient occult art of Kahuna Magic, it is said that an individual can attract good health, love, self esteem, power and enjoy the best things in life.

CONTENTS OF KAHUNA POWER INCLUDES:
Ghosts and Gods of Hawaii
Helpful Spooks
Good Spirits and Guardian Angels
Dire Warnings From the Goddess
Chants to Avoid Possession, Evil and Misfortune
Animals and the Spirit World
 Ritualistic Burials
The Menehune - Leprechauns of the Pacific

It is said that the powerful Kahuna can cure almost any disease and ailment through proper use of herbs which they cultivate. Communicate at will with higher dimensions and the departed souls of loved ones whom they are able to contact for personal guidance and assistance in all matters of everyday life. Predict and sometimes control the course of future events. After gaining the confidence of the local Kahuna practitioners author Tim Beckley and psychics Maria Carta and Penny Melis were permitted to enter a seldom glimpsed society and to understand a spiritual system which still offers considerable appeal to those living in today's world. Kahuna Power contains the chants, the prayers and the documented legends that could improve YOUR life if you let it.
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MYSTERIES MAGAZINE  #19


In This Incredible Issue:
The FeeJee Mermaid and the History of
This Elusive Creature
12 Most Popular Cryptids
Cannibalism: Who's For Dinner?
The Psychic World of Amelia Earhart
PLUS: Explore Georgia's Guidestones
The Lore of the Werewolf
Ancient Aliens-ETs or Gods?
And much more, including book, music,
and movie reviews, exhibit and
conference listings!


Get your issue TODAY at your favorite bookstore
or magazine stand.


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- FIRE FROM THE SKY DEPARTMENT -

Sandia Supercomputers Offer New Explanation of Tunguska Disaster

Smaller asteroids may pose greater danger than previously believed.

The stunning amount of forest devastation at Tunguska a century ago in Siberia may have been caused by an asteroid only a fraction as large as previously published estimates, Sandia National Laboratories supercomputer simulations suggest.

“The asteroid that caused the extensive damage was much smaller than we had thought,” says Sandia principal investigator Mark Boslough of the impact that occurred June 30, 1908. “That such a small object can do this kind of destruction suggests that smaller asteroids are something to consider. Their smaller size indicates such collisions are not as improbable as we had believed.”

Because smaller asteroids approach Earth statistically more frequently than larger ones, he says, “We should be making more efforts at detecting the smaller ones than we have till now.”

The new simulation — which more closely matches the widely known facts of destruction than earlier models — shows that the center of mass of an asteroid exploding above the ground is transported downward at speeds faster than sound. It takes the form of a high-temperature jet of expanding gas called a fireball.

This causes stronger blast waves and thermal radiation pulses at the surface than would be predicted by an explosion limited to the height at which the blast was initiated.

“Our understanding was oversimplified,” says Boslough, “We no longer have to make the same simplifying assumptions, because present-day supercomputers allow us to do things with high resolution in 3-D. Everything gets clearer as you look at things with more refined tools.”

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

The new interpretation also accounts for the fact that winds were amplified above ridgelines where trees tended to be blown down, and that the forest at the time of the explosion, according to foresters, was not healthy. Thus previous scientific estimates had overstated the devastation caused by the asteroid, since topographic and ecologic factors contributing to the result had not been taken into account.

“There’s actually less devastation than previously thought,” says Boslough, “but it was caused by a far smaller asteroid. Unfortunately, it’s not a complete wash in terms of the potential hazard, because there are more smaller asteroids than larger ones.”

Boslough and colleagues achieved fame more than a decade ago by accurately predicting that that the fireball caused by the intersection of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter would be observable from Earth.

Simulations show that the material of an incoming asteroid is compressed by the increasing resistance of Earth’s atmosphere. As it penetrates deeper, the more and more resistant atmospheric wall causes it to explode as an airburst that precipitates the downward flow of heated gas.

Because of the additional energy transported toward the surface by the fireball, what scientists had thought to be an explosion between 10 and 20 megatons was more likely only three to five megatons. The physical size of the asteroid, says Boslough, depends upon its speed and whether it is porous or nonporous, icy or waterless, and other material characteristics.

“Any strategy for defense or deflection should take into consideration this revised understanding of the mechanism of explosion,” says Boslough.

One of most prominent papers in estimating frequency of impact was published five years ago in Nature by Sandia researcher Dick Spalding and his colleagues, from satellite data on explosions in atmosphere. “They can count those events and estimate frequencies of arrival through probabilistic arguments,” says Boslough.

The work was presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 11. A paper on the phenomenon, co-authored by Sandia researcher Dave Crawford and entitled “Low–altitude airbursts and the impact threat” has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Impact Engineering.

The research was paid for by Sandia’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development office.

Source: Sandia National Labs Press Release
http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2007/asteroid.html

- WAR IS NOT HEALTHY FOR ANY LIVING THING DEPARTMENT -

Armed Forces "Superbug" Menaces U.S.

Experts fear an infection caught by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will invade civilian hospitals.

The UK, the United States and Canada are facing growing fears over a drug-resistant 'superbug' being brought back by wounded soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq that threatens to contaminate civilian hospitals.

The intensified concern comes amid sharply rising infection rates in the US and fresh worries in Canada that the bug could be imported into its civilian healthcare system. Military health officials who have studied the bacterium in Afghanistan believe the infection of wounded British soldiers in field hospitals there is probably inevitable.

The US military originally thought the bug came from contaminated Iraqi soil, but troops in Afghanistan have also been infected. Canada's public health service last week revealed it had ordered the screening of all its wounded soldiers being repatriated from Afghanistan.

The bacterium, Acinetobacter baumannii, first emerged as a 'mystery infection' afflicting US service personnel returning from the war in Iraq in 2003-04. It was described by a scientific journal specialising in hospital epidemiology as the 'most important emerging hospital-acquired pathogen worldwide'. The journal added that it was potentially a 'major threat to public health' due to its ability to mutate rapidly and develop a resistance to all known drugs.

Although different types of acinetobacter have been known for decades in hospitals, the new 'T' strain identified in the injured troops is particularly virulent and has been observed to appear in US servicemen within two hours of being admitted to a field hospital. It affects the spinal fluid, bones and lungs, causing pneumonia, respiratory failure and other complications. Equally worrying is its resilience. Extremely difficult to eliminate from medical facilities once established, the bug can survive for up to 176 days in a human host. US officials concede that, once established in the medical evacuation chain, the germ is almost impossible to stamp out.

Although the Ministry of Defence tried to play down fears of the infection when the first suspected British cases were reported last year in the Lancet, its increasingly rampant progress through America's military hospital system has been causing intense alarm elsewhere.

Canadian military doctors investigated the infection in Canadian troops at an intensive care unit in Kandahar and published a report in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases earlier this year.

The officers warned that their findings about the infection risk were 'equally applicable to US and British military field hospitals as well', adding that 'the environmental and logistical problems that faced [the medical units involved] are common across field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq'. They added that 'unrestricted use of antibiotics' at the field hospitals to compensate for poor environmental conditions had contributed to the emergence of the new superstrain.

In addition to a new screening regime, Canadian infectious disease officials will meet early next year to develop a national strategy to deal with the risk of the new strain spreading to civilian hospitals.

One of the report's authors, Major Homer Tien, told The Observer from Kandahar yesterday that further outbreaks appeared inevitable. 'No one really knows how it is being transmitted. What is certain is that it is a big concern,' he said. 'A lot of the work I was doing was trying to pinpoint the source of the infection. We still can't say what the source was. If we can't prevent it, the next question is how we can keep the hospitals back home in the UK and Canada from being infected.'

Concern is all the higher because, as in the UK, injured Canadian troops are treated in the civilian healthcare system, while most Americans are treated in an extensive network of military hospitals.

Infection rates have risen steeply in the US. In 2001 and 2002, around 2 per cent of admissions were infected at a specialist army burns unit in Texas. By 2003 the rate had risen to 6 per cent, then 12 per cent by 2005, a rate consistent with other facilities. So far, 27 servicemen have died from the infection.

In stark contrast to Canada and the US, the attitude towards the threat in the UK has been sanguine and low-key.

An MoD spokesmen last week insisted there had not been a case since November 2004 and it employed 'robust and stringent infection control procedures which fully meet NHS requirements adequate to deal with the problem'.

Source: The Guardian (UK)
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2228205,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11

MR. UFO WISHES HOLIDAY CHEERS TO ONE AND ALL!
Twas the night before Christmas and we were all quite unbalanced at Balanced in Jersey City as Sexy Santa (aka MR UFO, Tim Beckley) rocked out into the night admits the fashion models and hair stylists and just fuzzy and warm people in general. "Being a UFOlogist doesnt pay the rent," says the sometimes snappy horror film host known as "Mr Creepo" his his legon of fans. "So I have to take on an occassional odd job, especially around the holidays. I do say these reindeer had sharp antlers, but they were friendly landing on the roof."

- O' LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM DEPARTMENT -

The Star of the Magi

The year having come full circle, Christmas is upon us, once again. Each Christmas, we are faced with the familiar, yet mysterious images of the star and the Magi, the three wise men bearing gifts, crossing both the desert and the sky in search of the baby Jesus. The Magi of Matthew’s Gospel are such a fixture that Christmas wouldn’t be complete without them, and yet, even after 2,000 years, they still seem shockingly out of context in the Christian gospels; and all our attempts at explaining them—or explaining them away—have only deepened the mystery. The inclusion of the Star of Bethlehem, with all its pagan astrological implications, in the overture to the First Gospel, has raised so many awkward questions for orthodox Christianity that one has to wonder how it ever made it into the Bible in the first place. So why would the authors (and editors) of the Christian gospels choose Zoroastrian Magi and astrology to herald the coming of Jesus Christ? Did the Magi have some special significance then that we have since lost? After all, the New Testament narrative opens with them. Why? Who were they, and why would Matthew imply that their astrology lead them to Jesus?

In pursuing answers to questions like these, I’ve come to believe that Matthew’s Magi have much more to offer than the traditional gifts for Jesus ascribed to them. In fact, once we begin to understand who the Magi were, how their astrology informed their beliefs, and how much those beliefs influenced their Jewish neighbors, some strikingly obvious conclusions emerge about their appearance. The priority of this story’s position within the Christian Bible, in the opening chapters of the very first book, is actually a testament to the widespread influence of the Persian Magi and their astrology in the rise of monotheism and Messianic expectations throughout the ancient world. Ultimately, Matthew’s Magi challenge our traditional understanding of how the three great monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—evolved, and might even be telling us something new about our future prospects together.

Who were the Magi?

The Magi were a hereditary order of priests and sages; wise men, if you will, who originated among the tribes of Media. The region the Magi knew as Media is now north-western Iran, bordering the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, approximately halfway between Baghdad and Tehran. The roots of their tribe extend back into the dim mists of prehistory, but from the 6th century BCE on, the Magi served as the official priesthood of the Persian religion, and of the Persian royal house.

In the West, where we traditionally revere the Greeks and Romans, we too often fail to acknowledge the far-reaching cultural and religious contributions of the Persians, their longstanding foes; and ours, by default. Meanwhile, Judeans living at the time of Christ were very much aware of the contributions of their Persian neighbors. Greece and Rome had not been kind to the Jews, whereas the nearby Parthian Persians and their Magi had long been their allies against these brutal foreign invaders.

Matthew and his contemporaries knew that the Jews were forever indebted to the Persians, who liberated them from the Babylonian captivity (ca. 538 BCE), and saved their nation from certain extinction. In repatriating the Jews, and authorizing the rebuilding of the burnt-out sites of Jerusalem and its temple, the Persians and their Magi leveraged a lot of input into the beliefs and practices of the Jewish religion.

The arrival of Alexander in 331 BCE, and the Hellenist Empire that survived his fateful demise, marked the beginning of hard times for both the Jews and the Persians. By the time of Christ, both nations shared a common messianic dream: the advent of a saviour king who would destroy the Greeks, and the Romans after them, and restore the rightful reign of God. The Magi were the main propagandists behind this popular messianism, and their reputation as master astrologers was put to good use in this cause.

The Magi’s Astrology

There’s no doubt that the Persian Magi were great astrologers, and Matthew and his contemporaries would have recognized them as such. Unlike the Greeks and the Romans, the Persians had their own distinct brand of religious astrology. For them, God’s time was organized into astrological millenniums; 1,000 year periods ruled by the signs of the zodiac, wherein timely conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn signaled the rise of new empires and dynasties, great prophets and new religions, and more rarely still, heralded the dawn of a new world age, or aeon. Their astrology was rooted in the idea of the apocalypse; the uniquely Persian belief that the universe was created with an intrinsic astrological order to serve as a staging ground for the ongoing, and ultimate battle between good and evil; the outcome of which had already been decided long before time began. Their astrology thoroughly permeated their religion, and vice versa.

The Sons of Zoroaster

By the time Matthew composed his Gospel (ca. 75 CE?), the Persian religion of the Magi harbored long-standing astrological traditions about a coming world savior, or messiah, who was to be born of a virgin. Ultimately, the Magi were expecting three world saviors, or ‘sons of Zoroaster,’ over the course of consecutive millenniums, and they were all to be born of virgins at the appropriate astrological intervals. The first two sons would help defeat evil, and spread the good religion throughout the world. The coming of the third savior would trigger the apocalypse, the ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil at the end of the world.

These ancient Persian traditions had tremendous bearing on the development of Jewish Messianic expectations, both politically and religiously. Matthew’s Judeans were inspired in their endless uprisings against their Greek and Roman overlords by the Persian religion and its astrology. Matthew’s inclusion of the Magi in his gospel reminds us that many Judeans still expected God to work through the Persians, and in concert with their astrology, to bring about their long-awaited redeemer king.

These same Persian traditions formed a vibrant part of early Islam, and shine through the work of the 8th and 9th century astrologers of the Golden Age of Baghdad. There, scholars like Masha’allah and ‘Umar Tiberiades preserved the unique religious chronologies of the Magi; only now, their astrological millenniums, and the cycle of Jupiter and Saturn conjunctions, heralded the birth of Christ and Christianity, as well as the birth of Muhammad and Islam. For these astrologers, the first two sons of Zoroaster had come. The good religion had been spread.

This is the astrology of the Magi. This is what the author of Matthew has been trying to tell us for two thousand years.

Inclusive Monotheism

In their astrology, the Magi focused on the big picture and the overarching God’s-eye view. They operated within an ‘inclusive monotheism,’ in which all who worship the one God are one and always have been. The coming of Jesus Christ and Muhammad; even the rebirth of Second Temple Judaism from the ashes of the Babylonian captivity, meant the fulfillment of their ancient Persian prophecies; prophecies which predicted the triumph and spread of the worship of the one God, the Good God, throughout the world. We lost that thread long ago, and instead, stubbornly cling to the medieval, man-made myths of ‘exclusive monotheism’— orthodox traditions that each claim their own separate origin in a special revelation, and then fight over the details. These claims are rooted in our very human failings rather than in history, for Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all branches of an old, old tree. With each passing day, and each new loss in the war on terror, the inclusive monotheism of the Magi; their most precious gift, looks more relevant than ever.

Even if the Magi never ventured across the desert as he says, Matthew would have done well to invent them. His case for Jesus, as both the King of the Jews and as a world savior, was boosted immeasurably by their appearance, and by the implied coincidence of his birth with their astrological indicators. So it is that over 2,000 years on, Matthew’s Magi cross our horizon again, bearing new gifts this time, in the truths they reveal to us about ourselves, and in their lasting testament to the common religious heritage we all share; or at least that we could share, and better late than never.

Source: Courtney Roberts/Warwick Associates Press Release
http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/viewnews.php?id=114193

- NOT QUITE DISCLOSURE DEPARTMENT -

Japan's Top Government Spokesman Says He Believes in UFOs

Yes, UFOs do exist, Japan's top government spokesman said this week.

"Personally, I absolutely believe they exist," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura.

He said there was no other explanation for how the Nazca Lines were drawn in the Peruvian desert. The vast, ancient drawings can really only be properly appreciated from the air, which has led some to claim they are the work of extraterrestrials.

Earlier the cabinet, responding to an opposition lawmaker's question, issued a statement saying it could not confirm any cases of unidentified flying objects.

"The government has not confirmed the existence of 'unidentified flying objects believed to have flown from outside the Earth'."  The statement was formally endorsed at Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

The government issued the comment in response to a question from lawmaker Ryuji Yamane of the opposition Democratic Party, who argued Tokyo should try to confirm what UFOs are as many people have said they have witnessed them.

"This is an issue that the nation is interested in -- it is a defence issue and a confirmation operation needs to take place," Ryuji Yamane, a lawmaker from the main opposition Democratic Party who submitted the question to the cabinet, told reporters. "But the government does not even try to collect information necessary for the confirmation."

Machimura, asked about the government's view on UFOs at a regular press conference, told reporters that the government can only offer a stereotyped response.

"Personally, I definitely believe they exist," he said. But the prime minister stuck to the official view.

"I have yet to confirm (that UFOs exist)," Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told reporters later in the day.

Source: Agence France-Presse
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view_article.php?article_id=107613

- THE POWER OF SUGGESTION DEPARTMENT -

Mystery Death of Chinese Teenager Triggers School Panic

More than 80 teenagers from a southwest China school have been hospitalized after the mystery death of a fellow student in what a senior doctor described as a case of mass hysteria.

Zhou Yuankun, chief of the hospital where the students were treated, said Thursday's incident was caused by panic, fear and anxiety.

Zhou said most of the students were discharged from the hospital late on Thursday or Friday. Those whose parents requested further observation at the hospital, including three students with fever, were showing no abnormal symptoms and were discharged on Saturday.

The students at the No. 2 Middle School, in Dongshan town of Qilin District in Qujing City, Yunnan Province, complained of stomachaches and headaches following the mysterious death of a seventh grader on Thursday.

A 16-year-old, identified only by his surname as Liu, first suffered a headache and vomiting at 2:10 p.m. and was taken to a clinic in the town, where he died the same day.

Shortly after Liu's death, more than 80 other students complained of palpitations, stomachaches and headaches, and were sent to the Enhong Coal Miners Hospital for medical checks.

Zhou said there was a chaos in the school compound after Liu's death.

"The school canteen didn't serve dinner until 7:00 p.m. that day, so many students developed the symptoms due to low blood sugar," said Zhou.

A number of students with no symptoms were also sent to see doctors at the request of their parents.

Zhou said three of the students were later diagnosed with fevers.

An investigative group comprising personnel from the public security, health and drug control authorities was set up after Liu's death. They immediately sealed all food and dishes served at the school canteen for tests, but ruled out the possibility of food poisoning after finding nothing abnormal.

Additional tests on Liu's stomach and some bread left in his pocket, as well as an autopsy, also ruled out the possibility of a food poisoning.

However, doctors identified signs of a brain haemorrhage and further tests were begun on Friday night to establish the cause of death. The results are not yet known.

A source with the local government said the authorities reacted swiftly as local media had been running reports suggesting food poisoning following Liu's death. All the students were asked how they were feeling and those who said they felt discomfort were sent to hospital.

Chen Taoxian, a girl from the Liu's class and one of the three students diagnosed as ill, was actually suffering from flu.

"She looked pale with parched lips, complaining of difficulty sitting down when I met her at the hospital," said her mother.

Chen was treated for a heavy cold at Enhong Coal Miners' Hospital. "I felt much better after the treatment," said Chen, whowas discharged early on Saturday.

Source: China View
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-12/15/content_7256610.htm

- HAVE A SPOOKY CHRISTMAS DEPARTMENT -

The Lost Tradition of Christmas Ghost Stories

Ghost stories at Christmas, seems out of place or is it? We have enjoyed the classic, The Christmas Carol, and Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas? In Celtic times, there were spirits ghost, and mystical beings that were associated with the fire festival.

The Winter Solstice, Alban Arthuan, or better known as Yuletime Season is a time of death and rebirth of Nature and our souls. It is said the Old Sun dies at dusk of December 21st. and when the Sun of the New Year is born at the dawn of December 22. The New Sun is thought to rejuvenate the aura of the Earth. It is like a mystical cleansing to the spirits and the souls of the dead.

Samhain is considered the most haunted time of the year in the Celtic calendar; Yule is the second. Haunting starts on December 6th to December 20th. The spirits are more active as they wait for the rebirth of the Sun’s powers.

This haunting is not the same as during Samhain, where the veil is thinned so that the dead can walk among us. The spirits of Yule are connected with the mystical and the psychic logic of the Solstice Season. However, one can be visited from their ancestors, relatives, spirit guides or their soul friends (anamchara).

A Yuletide story called the Sluagh-Sídehe of Brug na Bóinne. It translates people of the mound or barrow where the dead have been buried. All sídehe in the Celtic mythology and traditions are haunted. It is said that they are the gateway for the souls and spirits of the dead. It is also a gateway for living mortals so that they can pass back and forth to each world.

On the other side the sídehe is the Otherworld or the Land of the Youth, the Isle of the Blessed. This is where the living soul continues the quest for wisdom. The people of the Sídhe are the Faeryfolk. They live forever beyond the sídhe in the ráths, which are submerged roundhouses or Faery fortresses, which are their magical castles in the Otherworld.

The custom of the Yule Log also seems to be a dying trend. It used to be a large log, cut from ones own land or a neighbor’s, which was supposed to burn all twelve days of Christmas. While relaxing before the burning log, it was customary for people to gather around and tell ghost stories. Further proof of the existence of the tradition can be found by listening to the popular Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. In it you can hear the phrase “there’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

Of course this being Conspiracy Journal, we have some true Christmas ghost stories to tell. The following weird tale took place in Liverpool, England in the early 1990s, and it has never been explained. It all started in one foggy December evening in 1991.

On the evening of Friday, December 20th, 1991, at 7 pm, the Edwards family of Dovecot decided to go and do a bit of late Christmas shopping in Liverpool city centre. Mr Edwards drove his wife and four kids to town in his old Volvo estate, and as usual, finding a place to park proved to be a real pain. Mr Edwards drove about, searching desperately for a parking space as his three sons and daughter gazed at the spectacular Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets. The youngest of the Edwards children was Abbey, who was only six years old. She loved Christmas, and for days she had been pestering her mum and dad to take her to see the big fir tree covered with coloured lights in Church Street.

As Abbey's dad was grumbling about finding a place to park the Volvo, her Mum suddenly pointed to a secluded side-street called Bold Place, which runs from Berry Street, past the back of St Luke's Church, up to Roscoe Street.

"You're a genius." Mr Edwards complimented his wife and he turned left and drove up the poorly-lit cobbled road, which was on a bit of an incline. As soon as the car was parked up, the kids eagerly jumped out the vehicle and all four of them started asking their parents what they were getting for Christmas. Meanwhile, an icy fog rolled down the street.

Mr Edwards checked the doors of the car were locked then had a quick discussion with his wife about where they were going to first. He wanted to go to a shop in Bold Street to buy his father a cardigan, but Mrs Edwards insisted upon going to Dixons first to buy a CD player for her sister. Then the children started arguing too; they wanted to go to various toy stores first. Mr Edwards shouted, "Awright, will you all just shut up!"

The family were about to walk off when Mr Edwards suddenly noticed something - and his heart skipped a beat. With a look of dread he glanced about Bold Place and muttered, "Where's Abbey?"

Everyone looked around. Mr Edwards anxiously looked through the windows of the car, but his little daughter wasn't there. "Where's she gone?" Mrs Edwards asked with a tremble in her voice. The three boys looked about, but the street was empty.

Then they all heard a faint voice scream out in the distance. "Daddy!" The voice sounded like Abbey, and it came from the top of Bold Place, towards Roscoe Street. The Edwards family rushed up the cobbled road with the father leading the way. "Abbey!" Mr Edwards shouted, "Where are you?"

The gates at the back of St Lukes were open, and Mr Edwards surmised that his daughter had wandered into the precincts of the old church. He hurried into the grounds followed closely by his wife and their sons, and once again they all heard Abbey cry out for her father. But the little girl was nowhere to be seen, and the fog was getting thicker by the minute.

Mr Edwards didn't want to alarm his wife and kids, but he wondered if some perverted lunatic had grabbed his daughter and taken her into the ruins of the old church. He handed his wife the car keys and told her to go and bring the torch from the vehicle. She did this and Mr Edwards climbed up onto the ledge of a church window and shone the flashlight into the deserted church ruins. The interior was deserted with nothing but rubble scattered about. Mr Edwards knew that the church of St Luke had been gutted by an incendiary bomb in World War Two during the Blitz. Only the shell of the building survived, and the church had been left that way as a reminder of the war. And yet it sounded as if Abbey's voice had come from inside the church.

As Mrs Edwards helped her husband down from the window, she said, "Listen!"

It was the faint eerie sounds of a church organ, and it seemed to be emanating from the church.

Mr Edwards said, "Sound can play funny tricks at night. Come on, let's go to the police."

Mrs Edwards started to cry, but her husband said, "It'll be all right. We'll find her love. She can't have gone far."

The family went to the police station in Hope Street and told the desk sergeant about their lost daughter. The sergeant alerted all the patrol cars in the area, and told officers on the city centre beat to be on the lookout for the girl. The Edwards family then rushed back to Bold Place to resume their search for the girl. They searched the grounds of St Lukes once again, and after twenty minutes, they were about to return to their car, when something happened which continues to puzzle the Edwards family to this day. A tall man wearing a top hat and a long black coat came out of the grounds of St Lukes and walking with him was little Abbey, holding his hand.

When Abbey saw her mum and dad she ran to them and started to cry as her father picked her up. The sinister man in black looked like something out of the Victorian age. He had long bushy sideburns, a pallid face, and staring ink-black eyes. He stood outside the gates of the church, and in a creepy low voice, the outdated-looking stranger said, "Please accept my sincere apology for any distress caused."

He then turned and walked silently back towards the rear of the church ruins.

Mrs Edwards grabbed Abbey from her husband and said, "Are you all right? Where have you been?"

Abbey just said, "I'm fine mummy."

Mr Edwards was furious, and he shouted after the man, "Oi! Who are you? What's your game eh?"

Then a police patrol car came tearing down the road, and Mr Edwards told the officers in the vehicle about the stranger who had returned his daughter. Three police officers bolted from the car and rushed into the grounds of the church wielding their batons.

But the police found no one. The grounds were empty. More police turned up and the grounds were searched again with powerful torches, but the place was deserted. However, several police officers also heard the faint strains of a church organ playing nearby somewhere, but they never determined just where the strange music was coming from.

One of the policemen asked little Abbey where she had been, and the child gave a strange account. She said an old woman in a shawl had grabbed her hand and dragged her into the church, where a mass was being held. In the church, there were many people dressed in old-fashioned clothes. The women wore big hats, and the men were all dressed in black. Abbey had screamed for her father, but the old woman had put her hand over the girl's mouth to silence her. Sometime later, a tall man came into the church and pulled Abbey from the old woman's clutches. He had been the man who had taken Abbey back to her parents.

The intrigued policeman continued to interrogate the child, and he asked her if the man had spoken to her about the strange incident. Abbey shook her head, then said, "The man said he had been a long time dead, that's all."

A cold shudder ran up everyone's spine when they heard the child's reply. Since that strange incident, the Edwards family refuse to go anywhere near St Luke's Church, especially during the Christmas period...

(This story reproduced with permission from Tom Slemen)

Another ghostly tale comes from Alle G: Around Christmas time, 2001, I had a few weird experiences involving a spirit that must still live in our house. One of the past owners, a lady, died in our house. Around Christmas time, I felt the presence more and a lot stronger than I usually did.

One night, I decided to draw whatever my hand felt like drawing. I drew a bottle with ribbons exploding out of it, then a yacht... then it felt like someone was moving my hand for me. My hand drew a circular shape that at first looked like a peach. My hand lifted and dropped and made a mark inside the circle. My hand lifted again and dropped and it made a weird curve. My hand drew another dot. I regained full control over my hand again and I looked at what I had a drawn: a weird smiley face.

I told my mum about it and she said to try it again the next night, and so I did. I was painting some landscapes in water colours when I felt the presence again. My mum had said that she thought her name was Faye, so that name was stuck in my mind.

I asked, "What is your name?" and I let my hand be controlled. I wrote what looked like the name Faye. I asked what the last name was. I wrote something that looked like "Edith." This was all confusing. I asked why it was here, and the reply looked like "I'm lost." I asked why it was here with me, and the reply looked kind of like "crussby," but was still very hard to read. I asked, "What?" and the answer cleared up a bit, but still not a real word. I asked again, and the final reply came what looked like "crusty." I am still puzzled, but the spirit may have meant the house was crusty since it is falling to bits in some areas.

Later on, my mum confirmed that the lady's name was Edith. This freaked me out big time, and I still felt the presence strongly for a while until a few days after Christmas.

Bonnie O. tells about a Christmas phone call from heaven when her mother passed away three years ago: We were very close and I miss her daily. Last Christmas evening, I went to bed and woke up to the phone ringing. I answered it and a voice that was very familiar to me said, "Hello there." It was my mother's voice. The line had a static noise and it sounded to cut in and out. I said, "This can't be you, mom. You're dead." She said, "Oh, come on now." She sounded a bit agitated, and then we were cut off. My 16-year-old daughter was sleeping in the next room and also heard the phone ring that night. I know it was my mother's voice: she has a Norwegian accent and it was her!

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