12/22/19  #1032
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Conspiracy Journal is on holiday schedule...so the newsletter will be sporadic for a few weeks. However, we want to wish all of our loyal subscribers, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy New Years and a Festive Festivus...
for the rest of us.

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such Jingle Bell stories as:

The Air Force Tried to Make UFOs Go Away. It Didn't Work. -

 - The Tale of a Legendary Talking Mongoose: Back in the News -

Actual Sightings of Santa Claus -

AND: Do Icelanders Believe In Elves?

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

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~





He sang songs. He mimicked other animals and sounds. He could read minds. He was able to move objects through the air although he was nowhere near them.

He chatted with visitors from around the world, sometimes using vulgar language. But they could not see him, because he said he could become invisible whenever he wanted to.

All the time living in the walls of a remote farmhouse located on the Isle of Mann.

To the Irvings, especially their teenage daughter, Gef was not a frightening creature but the family’s pet who could feast on biscuits, chocolate and bananas, and helped them keep the stoves lit. But to others he was considered a “monstrosity,” a freak of nature, an abomination of God.

Gef himself seemed confused about his identity. He once said he was from another dimension, that he was a spirit, but took that back by by intimating, “If I were a spirit how could I kill rabbits.?” When quizzed as to why he was so reclusive Gef said he was not a pleasant sight to behold. “I am a freak. I have hands and I have feet and if you saw me you’d faint, you’d be petrified, mummified, turned into stone or a pillar of salt!”

Overall he said he was not grievous, but warned humans not to irritate him as, “I am not sure what damage or harm I could do if roused. I could kill you all...”

In addition to original material, included is the full text of the 1936 book by psychic researcher Harry Price. Exceedingly rare, copies have been selling for upward of $1,000 among collectors.

For here are other strange stories – such as the talking stove, the Squonk, and the Bell Witch, as presented by Tim R. Swartz and today’s leading investigators of the strange and unknown. This is one of the top Fortean stories of all time. An occult masterpiece. An adventure into the unknown, and the supernormal.

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The Air Force Tried to Make UFOs Go Away.
It Didn't Work.

By MJ Banias   

Fifty years ago today, the U.S. Air Force announced the closing of its most famous UFO investigation program, Project Blue Book. While the government’s goal was to “make UFOs go away,” it forced a community to take matters into its own hands. And it worked: If the events of this year alone are any indication, UFOs remain as hot of a topic in the general conscience than ever. But we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Blue Book.

In 1947, due to a string of “flying saucer sightings,” the Air Force began its campaign to understand the UFO phenomenon. Quietly, it put together a project, known as Sign, to investigate reports of UFOs. According to some researchers, one of Sign’s alleged final reports, commonly known as the “Estimate of the Situation,” openly favored the notion that flying saucers were extraterrestrial in origin.

While the report has never been released to the public, and is probably more mythological than real, many within UFO circles believe that Sign’s closure and replacement with the short-lived Project Grudge in 1949 attempted to engage in the active debunking of UFO incidents. The Air Force also eventually shut Grudge down in 1951, declaring that UFOs were hoaxes and misidentification—yet admitted that roughly 23 percent of the cases it investigated were unexplainable.

In 1952, the Air Force initiated its final UFO investigation, the now-famous Project Blue Book. Initially led by Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, in nearly two decades, it collected between 12,000 and 15,000 cases and was designed to be a fair and honest look at the UFO situation, succeeding where Sign and Grudge had failed. But while initial intentions may have been good, the project quickly went bad.

Blue Book Breaks Down

In 1953, a year into Blue Book’s run, the government formed the Robertson Panel to look at UFO reports, in the wake of a string of odd aerial objects being spotted over Washington, D.C. the previous year. Comprised of academics and scientists, the panel concluded in its classified report that UFOs posed no risk to national security, and proposed that the National Security Council actively debunk UFO reports to ensure UFOs become the subject of ridicule. It also recommended that UFO investigative and research groups be monitored by intelligence agencies for subversive activity.

“Strictly speaking, Project Blue Book was formed to determine whether UFOs represented a threat to our nation,” Mark O’Connell, author of The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs, tells Popular Mechanics. “Over time, when it was evident that Blue Book was utterly incapable of answering that question, its mission became one of ‘making the UFOs go away.’”

With very little funding, Blue Book was kneecapped in 1953. Moreover, staffers faced extreme scrutiny. As UFO sightings came in constantly, a revolving door of other commanding officers replaced Ruppelt—generally viewed as fair—and those leaders weren’t nearly as open to the flying saucer question. According to some researchers, the number of cases that couldn’t be debunked rested somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000.

“It was a rigged game because Blue Book investigators were under constant pressure to debunk and explain away any and all UFO reports that reached their offices,” O’Connell says. “The worst sin one could commit on the Blue Book staff was to mark a case ‘unexplained.’”

For almost 20 years, Blue Book investigated UFO sightings and reports, but in 1968, the infamous Condon Report, which was a product of the Air Force and the University of Colorado, took the final position that all UFO incidents were human delusion, hoaxes, or had some prosaic explanations. In other words, the UFOs that supposedly posed a risk to national security were nothing more than fantasy.

“The committee recommended that the Air Force get out of the UFO business,” O’Connell says. “And the Air Force was more than happy to follow the study’s recommendation to pull the plug on its 20-year headache.”

One Door Closes, Another Opens

On December 17, 1969, the Secretary of Air Defense announced the closure of Project Blue Book. Respected archivist and historian Brad Sparks explained in a 2016 report that Blue Book continued to receive reports after that date and wasn’t actually shuttered until January 30th, 1970. Whatever the case, the end of Blue Book concluded the U.S. government’s interest in UFOs.

At least publicly.

“There is no question that various commands of the Air Force, as well as the other three branches of the armed forces, continued to accept UFO reports well beyond the termination of Project Blue Book,” Australian UFO researcher Paul Dean tells Popular Mechanics.

Dean, who operates a blog dedicated to collecting and evaluating declassified military documents, says there are literally hundreds of pages of documents that prove the government collected sighting reports, predominantly from military personnel. “Of course, accepting UFO reports is hardly the same thing as investigating and analyzing them,” he says. “It turns out, despite the constant denials of the [Air Force], that incoming reports were indeed investigated, and conclusions were established.”

In simple terms, the UFO phenomenon didn’t go away. It only became stronger.

The irony is that the cancellation of Blue Book allowed UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek—an astronomer that advised on Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book, and later developed the “Close Encounter” classification system for UFO sightings—to “finally investigate UFO incidents his own way, free of the restrictions imposed on him by the Air Force,” says O’Connell. “To double up on the irony factor, Hynek and many others felt that the Condon report actually made a strong case that UFOs were an unexplainable, but real, phenomenon that was worthy of ongoing scientific study,” he says.

Today, the political and academic stigma that surrounds UFOs, created so many years ago by the Robertson Panel and a motley collection of confidence artists, profiteering “UFO experts,” and kooky cult leaders, is beginning to erode. Rational UFO discourse seems to be on the uptick as organizations begin to muster support to engage in actual scientific studies of aerial anomalies. The recent announcement by the U.S. Navy that unknown aerial objects do indeed violate American airspace, and that the Pentagon ran a secret UFO investigation program in the late 2000s, has only led to an increased interest in all things ufological.

Failure Leads to the Future

David O’Leary, creator of HISTORY Channel’s Project Blue Book, a dramatized and fictional program of the same name as the Air Force program, says that on a cultural level, UFOs have always been buzzworthy, but there now seems to be a positive shift in how they’re viewed by people outside of the UFO community.

“I think that for the first time, there’s sort of a conscious awakening to what’s happening,” O’Leary tells Popular Mechanics. “I think that people certainly understand that. One hundred percent. There is something flying in our skies and we don’t understand what it is.”

While the closure of Blue Book was intended to be the nail in the phenomenon’s coffin, the plan didn’t exactly work out the way the Air Force had hoped.

“I think you have to go back and look at the beginning to understand how and why there seems to be so much secrecy, denial, confidentiality, classification, and all that kind of stuff around this issue, and how those decisions were determined,” says O’Leary. “That lets you know that privately, the U.S. government wants to study this phenomenon and it takes it very seriously.”

For all its faults and missteps 50 years later, Project Blue Book is a constant reminder that, for a time at least, the government has taken UFOs seriously, O’Connell says. “And if it’s okay for the government to be interested in the phenomenon, then it ought to be okay for the average Joe to be interested as well.”

“And,” O’Connell continues, “I think there’s also a lingering sense among a great many UFO enthusiasts that we could have done it better than the Air Force did. So to many, Blue Book represents a great success of sorts, but also a great missed opportunity.”

Source: Popular Mechanics


The Tale of a Legendary Talking Mongoose: Back in the News
By Nick Redfern

The Haunting of Cashen’s Gap: A Modern “Miracle” Investigated is a book that was written back in 1936 by controversial ghost-hunter, Harry Price, along with R.S. Lambert. As you’ll see if you click on the first link above, the original edition sells for incredible amounts of money. It’s not only a rare and pricey title: the story it tells is downright weird. It all revolves around nothing less than the antics of a talking mongoose named Gef.

Yep, you did read that correctly. A talking mongoose. I thought I had better state it twice, just in case you really did think your eyes were deceiving you. But, no, they are not. It’s a strange, eerie and – at times – undeniably sad saga of a young girl, her dog, her parents and intense media attention in the early 1930s. And, now, there’s a new edition of the book available, which I digested recently, and that makes for fascinating reading. The new edition – which I’ll come back to – adds a great deal of new material to the story, along with new theories and ideas regarding what the truth of the whole controversy really was. Or, wasn’t.

The key players in the story were the Irving family: husband and wife James and Margaret, teenage Voirrey (their daughter), and Mona the sheepdog. And, Gef, of course. If he really existed. The family lived on the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. Britannica.com say of the Isle of Man: “The Isle of Man is about 30 miles (48 km) long by 10 miles (16 km) wide, its main axis being southwest to northeast. It has an area of 221 square miles (572 square km). The island consists of a central mountain mass culminating in Snaefell (2,036 feet [621 meters) and extending north and south in low-lying agricultural land. Man’s coastline is rocky and has fine cliff scenery. The grass-covered slate peaks of the central massif are smooth and rounded as a result of action during various glacial periods. The island’s landscape is treeless except in sheltered places. To the southwest lies an islet, the Calf of Man, with precipitous cliffs, which is administered by the Manx National Heritage as a bird sanctuary.”

As for the story (which primarily revolved around Voirrey and the elusive Gef) it began in the latter part of 1932. That was the year when strange activity began to occur  in the farmhouse that the Irving family owned, and which was located at Cashen’s Gap, near Dalby – hence the title of the book. Strange and repetitive noises were heard in the house; on many occasions they seemed to be coming from behind the walls of the rooms. The sounds suggested that a small animal had got behind the panels and was roaming around, very often at night. Bizarrely, something akin to the cries of a baby were reportedly heard too. It wasn’t long before the Irvings realized that they had something seriously strange in their midst: the speaking mongoose allegedly told the astonished family that it was born midway through the 19th century in New Delhi, India!

As the story developed, it became obvious that if Gef was real, then he was no normal animal. Never mind just his alleged ability to speak; there was also the fact that the family referred to him as a spectral animal, as a spirit tied to our world, and as a “familiar.” No surprise, it wasn’t long before the media was on the scene. Newspaper article-titles on the weird affair included “Clue to Mystery of ‘Talking’ Weasel;” “House ‘Possessed’ by a Mongoose;” and “The Dalby ‘Spook’ Again.” Amusingly, as the press stated, there was the story of a man who “has heard it sing, curse, and dance.” Gef was not a dangerous entity, though, it should be noted. He would rather scare away the resident mice than kill them. He made sure the fire was out at night and kept wild dogs away. Truly, the story was beyond bizarre, but highly engaging too (it still is). When James Irving died in 1945, Voirrey and her mother moved from the old farmhouse. One year later, the new owner – a man named Leslie Graham – claimed he had shot Gef. Photos, however, suggested that whatever had been killed by Graham was not a mongoose. The mystery continued. In fact, it went on for decades. To the end of her days – in 2005 – Voirrey said that Gef was not a hoax of her making.

It was inevitable that a book would be written on the strange story. And it was: the aforementioned Price-Lambert book. And, as I said, there is now a new edition of the book. It adds new material, much of which revolves around matters relative to poltergeist activity and Voirrey being the culprit; albeit not deliberately so. We are given background data on some of the more equally controversial claims of poltergeist phenomena (such as the London, England-based “Enfield Poltergeist” and its connection to young girls in the family home). The book notes that Voirrey “…must have passed a curious childhood, without playmates or friends, always in he company of her elderly parents, seeing life from their remote and limited angle.” Living under circumstances like that just might have led Voirrey to descend into a fantasy world of her own making – although perhaps not deliberately.

Perhaps, in light of the above, Voirrey inadvertently created what is known as a thought-form (or a Tulpa): an entity born out of the human mind, but which can take on its own strange form of existence. Notably, Voirrey had a big love for animals. Certainly, as the new version of the book reveals, there was no doubt that many (particularly within the media) thought that Voirrey faked the whole thing, which is of course the most likely scenario. On the other hand, the matter of poltergeist activity surfaces a lot, suggesting that there may have been at least some degree of supernatural activity at work. In conclusion it’s fair and accurate to say that the story of Voirrey, Gef and the Irving family will never be resolved to the satisfaction of everyone. It remains one of the strangest sagas in the field of investigations of the supernatural type. And, now, you have the chance to dig deep into the whole story.

Source: Mysterious Universe


Actual Sightings of Santa Claus
By Stephen Wagner

Does Santa Claus really exist? Some would say that the question is silly because of course Santa Claus is a myth. Others would say the question is ridiculous because of course, he is real! How can we doubt it?

Over the years, children all over the world have reported sightings of the real Santa Claus—not department store Santas or bell-ringing Salvation Army charity collectors, but the real thing. Some even claim they saw Saint Nick's sleigh and reindeer. Are these simply illusions seen through the eyes of a child's Christmas excitement and expectation? Here are some of the stories adults and children tell of mysterious Christmas Eve sightings gone by.

Bristol, England—2000

I am 14 now, but this happened back in 2000 in my old house in Bristol, England. I was with my mum and dad and my sister. It was about midnight on Christmas Eve and I was the only one awake because I was really excited. I could hear these big footsteps in my living room. I was quite scared, and I could also hear bells tingling above me. So I wanted to see what was going on.

I walked down the stairs very slowly and I could see this big man putting presents around my living room. I wanted to say something, but I was too scared to do it because I thought he would be angry. I ran back upstairs and went back to sleep. I was so convinced I saw the real Santa and told everyone in the morning: but no one believed me.—Alex H.

New York City—2002, 2004 and 2007

It was Christmas Eve of 2002 in New York City. My parents had invited some friends and relatives over for dinner, sort of like a Christmas Eve celebration. After that, I decided to go to my room to watch some television, but there was nothing good to watch. I then found myself pacing back and forth in the hallway. My house is big, so there was no one with me. Everyone was in the living room watching a movie I wasn't interested in.

About seven minutes into my pacing, I saw a tall, fat figure scurry away about 20 feet away from me. It was crouched down, too. It was even wearing some sort of Santa Claus suit. I didn't believe in Santa, but this just freaked me out. There was a strange man in my house!

I quickly ran to where my parents were and told them all about it. They grinned at me and said jokingly, "Maybe it was Santa Claus." I didn't believe that, so I just sat down in the living room with my family and everybody else.

Then it occurred again on Christmas Eve, 2004. I remember it more vividly than the last one. I was lying on the couch in the living room. My parents were in the kitchen having a conversation about a business blog or something. Suddenly, I saw a huge man, about seven or eight feet tall, crawl underneath the tree and just vanish. Before it disappeared, it looked at me and said, "Shh." Very strange, so I went into the kitchen and sat with my parents.

Similar happenings occurred the following Christmases. I recall one in 2007, it was daylight this time and I just happened to see another tall figure with a Santa hat trudge by me for two seconds, then it was gone. This really happened!—Claxton Kalmbach

White Santa—1969

I had an experience when I was three years old and still young enough to wear footed pajamas. The year was maybe 1969, Christmas Eve. I wanted to see what Santa had brought me, so I quietly walked down the hallway and looked around the corner to our living room. I saw my parents and someone I didn't know hanging around our Christmas tree. The stranger was an old guy with a white beard and hair with a red suit. I quickly went back to my room as fast as I could with footed pajamas and slid into bed.

I told my mom what happened many years later and she insisted that I was dreaming or that it was my dad. That wasn't possible because my dad was sitting in a chair behind the stranger and my mom was standing right next to my dad! I'm African American, and during that time the tenants in our building were all African American, so Santa stood out!—Joanne


One Christmas Eve about 35 years ago, while I was in my teens, I was in a car with my parents, returning home very late at night. We were talking the whole way about Santa Claus and how great it would be if he really did exist. As we pulled into the driveway of our house—there he was, tiptoeing in the snow in-between two houses across the street! We all laughed when we saw this and remembered the incident for many Christmases thereafter. P.S.: No robberies were reported.—Del

Bright Light—2003

I am 13 now, but I saw something when I was seven. It was dark, nighttime around midnight [on Christmas Eve]. I was in bed, but I wasn't asleep (who could be?). All of a sudden, I saw a red light beaming down into my window. It was so bright, and somehow I knew it was him.

I looked up in the sky, but all I could see was the bright light coming from a small object. I didn't hear a helicopter or anything, but I did hear the unique sound of bells and, of course, the sound of hooves tapping on the roof. These sounds lasted for a few seconds after the light had disappeared, then they were gone.—Jade

San Antonio

I was about 7 and I was looking outside my second-story window, just waiting to see him. I saw something approaching in the distance: it was a huge sleigh and it was flying right over my house! I don't remember seeing any reindeer, but I did see a man dressed in red with a beard. I was so startled, but I kept looking, even sticking my head and half my body outside of the window!

I told my family, but I knew they really didn't believe me. I swear on my life to this day I saw something. I don't know if it was really Santa Claus, but I did see what I described!—Drew


An old friend came to see me a couple of weeks ago. We lost touch years ago, but he managed to trace me and he brought me a Christmas card. After a few minutes, I asked him if he remembered the Christmas Eve about 30 years ago when we were outside our houses. We grew up next to each other.

It must have been around 7.30 p.m. on a clear night when we suddenly heard a bell or bells in the distance getting closer real fast. As we both looked up, there was the reindeer, the sleigh, and Santa flying very fast and low over my house. It was brief, but we both ran to tell our families. Of course, everyone laughed, but I tell you it was real!

So when my friend turned up I asked him if he remembered, and he said of course he did... but he didn't like telling people about it now. You can imagine why!—Jimmy

Up On The Roof—2006

Three Christmases ago, I was coming home from my aunt's, where we have a party. I was crying because one of my cousins told me that Santa wasn't real. Then we came around the corner of my street and there it was—a big red sleigh and reindeer sitting on my roof! And then Santa popped out of my chimney!

I told everyone the next morning to see if they could remember, but they couldn't. But a couple of days ago, my dad went up to the roof to fix the leak... and there were long, straight lines going across the roof. I took a picture and showed it to my baby cousins and told them always believe.—Anonymous

Airport Parking Lot

A few years ago I worked at the airport parking lot in a booth collecting parking fees. On Christmas Eve, a car pulled up to the window, the passenger was a very happy, chubby, white-bearded guy wearing red pants with red suspenders and a white turtleneck covered in red and green Christmas characters. He sure looked like Santa to me. The rest of the evening I told all my customers that Santa had just flown in.—SKIttySKat


This happened long ago when I was about ten years old. Our house was in the suburbs. I swear that on one Christmas Eve, I was sleeping in my room when I heard my backyard door open, then close, and then a minute later it opened and closed again another three times each, about a minute apart. I thought it must have been my parents bringing in our presents from our garage, although, I don't recall seeing them go past my bedroom to their room. I was hiding under the covers at the time.

On another Christmas Eve, I tried to sneak down to the living room to try and catch Santa, but I chickened out and left. As I was walking back to my bedroom, I passed our front door and the light came on from outside, and I thought I could see the shadow of someone outside. Of course, now that I think about it, it could have just been a passerby or a cat or something. Or maybe—just maybe—it could have been Santa.—Nick
Eerie Santa

I was five years old, and I was in my room when I heard shuffling in the living room. I got up and peered around the doorway, where I saw a man in a Santa suit standing in front of the Christmas tree. He must have felt my presence because he turned around and looked at me. He didn't look jolly or kind and happy like you would expect Santa Claus to look. He looked kind of eerie like he was staring into my soul.

Automatically, I ran into my parents' room and hid under the covers. I don't know why I was so scared at the time, but I wrote it off as a dream for a while before I forgot about it completely.

Years later, I remembered it. I thought it could have been a burglar, but when I asked my parents, nothing was ever missing from that apartment. The only time we were ever robbed was when we moved later on. The only explanation I have now is that it was some kind of apparition.—Ana

Memphis, Tennessee—1980s and 2009

I grew up in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. In the 1980s, I was 8 or 9 years old. My parents and I were coming home from a Christmas party on Christmas Eve. When we pulled up in the driveway, we saw Santa Claus in a sleigh hovering above our house. All we could hear were sleigh bells. The sleigh was illuminated so that we could see Santa (in full outfit) in the sleigh. I remember seeing reindeer, but I don't know how many there were. Santa waved at us and flew off in the sleigh.

I'll never forget it, and I'll never forget my dad's face of total shock. He was an air traffic controller and when he went back to work after the holidays he asked about it and nothing came up.

In another bizarre twist, on Black Friday in 2009, I was waiting in line at a local Target store and broke out into conversation with another lady in line. We were talking about Christmas shopping, and all of a sudden out of nowhere she mentioned that her brother had seen Santa Claus in his sleigh two years before. I stood with my mouth wide open because I couldn't believe it. Every Christmas Eve I still think about him and look outside to try to get a glimpse.—Mrs. Wages

Quiet Santa

I was probably around 8 years old when on Christmas Eve around 12 a.m., I had been lying awake in bed for about 30 minutes. I was extremely excited, thinking about the morning and opening presents. Anyway, I start to hear these very faint footsteps approaching. Slowly, a man in boots, carrying a sack looked into my room, my parents' room and then my brother's room. I'm absolutely 100% positive I was awake, too. I could see him fairly well because we had a nightlight on across the hall in our bathroom. I remember hiding my entire face under the covers with a small portion of my eyes to see. He then walked away quietly and he was gone.

Of course I told my parents and brother in the morning about my sighting and, of course, they thought I was crazy. To this day (I'm 28 now), I ask my parents if they had anything to do with this, and they still deny it and say I was dreaming. I strongly believe I saw a spirit or some kind of entity of Santa.—Richard
Definitely Not Santa

I heard this story from my husband years ago. He was small, probably around six years old. His family was spending Christmas at the old family homestead. He was in bed when he heard a noise outside and ran to the window to see what it was. What should he see, but a fat, white-bearded man walking through the swirling snow toward the house. He crept downstairs to get a good look at Santa.

How disappointed he was when he discovered it was only his grandfather in his red "union suit" on his way back from the outhouse.—K. Stuart

Source: Live About


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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!


Do Icelanders Believe In Elves?
By Rob Schwarz

Huldufólk. The Hidden Folk. The elusive and magical residents of Iceland, who live inside rocks and sometimes play games with unsuspecting passers-by. Are they real? That’s a complicated question, if you ask Icelanders.

Also sometimes known as álfar (Icelandic for elves, though many believe álfar and huldufólk are actually two distinct groups), these mysterious people are not quick to make their presence known. But Icelandic folklore is full of strange tales of individuals crossing their paths. Sometimes, these encounters end well. with good luck. Other times, not so much.

In many stories, the huldufólk will visit people in their dreams.

Elves are most active this time of year, according to legend, and during Christmas and New Year’s, or Yule, they’re said to venture out to find new homes. They also partake in wild parties, which could be quite dangerous to any humans who get caught in their way.

Just make sure you don’t throw any rocks, lest you might hit an elf by accident, or so goes an old superstition.

Many polls and surveys have claimed that over half of Icelanders believe in the existence of these elves and huldufólk. Or, more accurately, they won’t deny the possibility that they exist.

In 2017, one such poll by the Reykjavík Grapevine showed that 67% of Icelanders believed in elves, or wouldn’t outright deny their existence. A previous poll way back in 2007 claimed the number to be at least 54%.

Iceland Magazine suggests, jokingly, that all these polls are skewed heavily by the Hidden Folk themselves. But do Icelanders really believe in them?
The Elves Are Out There

It’s a kind of “Pascal’s wager” for elves, in many ways – you’d might as well allow for the possibility that Hidden Folk exist. Otherwise, you might leave yourself open to all sorts of elvish mischief.

On the other hand, many Icelanders “believe” in elves in the same way others believe in Santa Claus. It’s a way of keeping their culture alive, and something fun to think about. And yet, there are also those who truly believe the álfar and huldufólk exist.

According to local folklore, the huldufólk live in a world parallel to our own. They dress in old-fashioned clothing, and are only seen when they want to be seen. They inhabit trees and boulders, and venture into our world through certain areas in hills and mountains and other natural formations.

Many claim to have had personal experiences with elves, or at least know someone who has. The elves’ capital is said to be located in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland where, according to National Geographic, visitors can venture out on an “elf walk” to learn about their history. The elf king and queen live at a cliff there called Hamarinn.
Lessons from Another World

It’s all a part of Icelandic culture and folklore. The country even has its very own Elf School, where students learn about the huldufólk and other mythological creatures. Anyone can sign up. The school is led by headmaster Magnus Skarphedinsson, and it even has an official website:

    “The Elfschool is open all year around in Reykjavik. The school is 32 years old this year. What students in the Elfschool gain and learn is everything that is known about elves and hidden people, as well as gnomes, dwarfs, fairies, trolls, mountain spirits as well as other nature spirits and mythical beings in Iceland and in other countries.”

In 2018, Max Mosher of the Globe and Mail visited Iceland’s Elf School and shared his experience. Classes typically last a few hours, and primarily focus on the retelling of tales involving huldufólk encounters and folklore. They also apparently end with “buttered bread and pancakes with whipped cream.” Sign me up.

Magnus Skarphedinsson is also notably the leader of the Paranormal Foundation of Iceland.
“Cultural Inheritance”

One of the major elf-related headlines over the past several years was the incident involving a boulder that had to be moved before the construction of a new road through the Gálgahraun lava field. The large stone was thought by some to be an elf church.

Peter Matthiasson, Head of Communication with the Icelandic Road Administration, told BBC Ideas that they agreed to move the rock not necessarily because they truly believe elves congregate there, but because they see it as “part of [their] cultural inheritance.”

Protecting these stones and other areas said to be claimed by elves is, perhaps, a way of preserving Iceland’s culture and natural wonder. In that case, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to believe in elves.

Iceland is a pretty amazing place, after all.

Source: Stranger Dimensions

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