Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Wales: It’s the land of dragons, wizards, King Arthur and the Holy Grail but did you know that the Devil is too embarrassed to visit Ceredigion?

That there’s a village named after the country’s bravest dog? Or that the Holy Grail itself ended up in a mansion near Aberystwyth?

Go on your very own quest to find out more about our myths and legends this Halloween.

Devil’s Bridge
According to legend the Devil himself visited Ceredigion in the 11th century after hearing about its
breathtaking scenery. While there, he struck a bargain with a local woman whose cow was stranded across the river. In a bid to buy her soul, the devil said he’d build her a bridge in exchange for the soul of the first living thing that crossed it.

When the bridge was built the woman threw a loaf of bread across it which her dog then chased.

The Devil was never seen in Wales again, too embarrassed at being outwitted by the old lady.

In the village of Devil’s Bridge today there are three crossings across the river. The oldest is said to have been built by Satan himself.

The Lady of the Lake
The story goes that it was at Llyn y Fan Fach, a remote lake in the Black Mountains, where a young farmer named Gwyn won and then tragically lost the love of his life.

He fell in love with a beautiful woman who emerged from the water and she agreed to marry him but warned him she would leave him forever if he struck her three times.

They lived happily for many years and had three sons but when Gwyn struck her playfully for the third time she disappeared into the lake and he never saw her again.

She would sometimes re-appear to her sons and teach them the powers of healing with herbs and plants. They became skilful physicians, as did their children after them.

Some of their ancient remedies have survived and are in the Red Book of Hergest, one of Wales’ most important medieval manuscripts.

Nanteos Cup
The cup is said to be the Holy Grail, used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood while interring Him in his tomb.

Medieval chroniclers claimed Joseph took the cup to Britain and founded a line of guardians to keep it safe. It ended up in Nanteos Mansion near Aberystwyth, attracting visitors who drank from it, believing it had healing powers.

The cup still exists with bits nibbled off by the sick in the hope of a miracle cure.

Belief in the cup’s holy powers have persisted despite a 2004 television documentary in which experts found it dated from the 14th Century, some 1,400 years after the Cruxifiction. In July 2014, a police operation was launched to find it after it was stolen.

Cadair Idris
One of Wales’ most iconic peaks, standing in southern Snowdonia, its name directly translates as Idris’ Chair in reference to the mythical giant who once used the mountain as his throne.

There are numerous stories and legends associated with the mountain and Idris.

A few of the nearby lakes - such as Tal-y-llyn - are reputed to be bottomless, and those who venture up the mountain at night should take heed before sleeping on its slopes.

It is said that those who sleep on the mountain will awaken either as a madman, a poet or, indeed, never wake again.

Folklore says villagers in Llangernyw, midway between Abergele and Llanrwst, learn their grim fate from a supernatural being under the boughs of a 3,000-year-old yew tree.

Each year on Halloween and July 31 the Angelystor is said to appear in the medieval church of Llangernyw in Conwy.

On those dates it solemnly announces, in Welsh, the names of those parish members who will die shortly after.

The churchyard contains the oldest living thing in Wales - a yew tree which botanists believe to be over 3,000 years old.

Cantre’r Gwaelod
The kingdom of Maes Gwyddno, more commonly known as Cantre’r Gwaelod, is said to lie under the Irish Sea in Cardigan Bay.

It was ruled by Gwyddno Garanhir (Longshanks), born circa 520AD.

The land was said to be extremely fertile but depended on a dyke to protect it from the sea. The dyke had sluice gates which were opened at low tide to drain the water from the land, and closed as the tide returned.

In around 600AD, a storm blew up from the south west, driving the spring tide against the sea walls. The appointed watchman, Seithennin, a heavy drinker and friend of the king, was at a party in the king’s palace near Aberystwyth.

Some say he fell asleep due to too much wine, or that he was too busy having fun, to notice the storm and to shut the gates.

The water gates were left open, and the sea rushed in to flood the land of the Cantref, drowning more than 16 villages.

Merlin’s Oak
Merlin’s Oak stood in the centre of Carmarthen amid the legend that King Arthur’s famous wizard had placed a protective curse on it.

In local tradition, the wizard said Carmarthen would “drown” if the oak was ever removed, and some even said a curious, pointed notch in the tree was the face of Merlin himself.

In fact, the tree was poisoned in the 1850s by a local who objected to people holding meetings beneath it, but its trunk was preserved within iron railings.

It was then removed from the town when someone set it on fire at the end of the 1970s.

Carmarthen then suffered its worst floods for many years.

Bardsey Island off the coast of the Llyn peninsula, meanwhile, is said to be the burial place of Merlin who lies in a glass coffin surrounded by the 13 treasures of Britain and nine bardic companions.

The village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd literally means Gelert’s Grave and is supposedly the final resting place of Wales’ most famous dog.

The canine belonged to Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, who one day was out hunting with his wife, leaving their baby son with a nurse and a servant to look after him.

The nurse and the servant went for a walk in the mountains leaving the baby alone. When Llewelyn returned Gelert came running out of the lodge towards his master, covered in blood.

Llewelyn rushed into the baby’s room to find the cradle overturned and no sign of his son.

Filled with grief he drew his sword and killed Gelert. As the dog died his whimpers were answered by the sound of a baby crying from behind the overturned cradle.

When Llewelyn pulled aside the cradle he found his son unharmed and the body of a huge wolf next to him.

With huge remorse, Llewelyn buried Gelert in a meadow nearby and marked his grave with a cairn of stones.

Twm Sion Cati
Dubbed the Welsh Robin Hood, Twm Sion Cati was actually a bard and genealogist called Thomas Jones who lived in Tregaron from 1530 to 1620.

He became a highwayman robbing the rich but it appears he was a bit tight-fisted and didn’t distribute a penny to the poor.

He was reputed to be a trickster and a master of deception. But he also had a soft side – he avoided maiming his victims and preferred to pin them with a well-aimed arrow to their saddles.

He hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen in the wooded slopes of Dinas Hill, close to Rhandirmwyn, and his cave today is well hidden on the banks of the river Towy in the RSPB sanctuary of Dinas Hill.

King Arthur
Arthur is heavily associated with Wales.

The lakes of Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen, are amongst those that claim to contain the magical Excalibur.

A stone reputedly bearing the hoof print of Arthur’s horse Llamrai can be found on the banks of Lake Barfog near Betws y Coed.

It is said that the mark was made when Arthur and his horse dragged a monster from the lake’s deep waters.

Arthur is also associated with Mount Snowdon, where he reputedly killed the mountain’s most famous resident - Rhitta, a fearsome giant who created a cape for himself out of the beards of his enemies. His corpse was covered in huge stones by Arthur’s men at the summit of the mountain.

Dinas Emrys
Located near Beddgelert is Dinas Emrys, the lofty mountain home of the Welsh red dragon.

In the fifth century the Celtic King Vortigern chose the area as the site for his castle.

Every day his men would work hard erecting the first of several proposed towers; but the next morning they would return to find the masonry collapsed in a heap.

Vortigern was advised to seek the help of a young boy who turned out to be Merlin.

He explained that the hill fort could not stand due to a hidden pool containing two dragons. Vortigern commanded his labourers to dig deep into the mountain and they did indeed discover an underground lake.

Once drained, the red and white dragons that lay sleeping there awoke and began to fight.

The white dragon represented the Saxons and the red dragon the Welsh. Eventually the white dragon fled and the red dragon returned quietly to his lair.

Vortigern’s castle was built and duly named after Dinas Emrys. The red dragon has been celebrated ever since.

The Afanc

A lake monster from Welsh mythology, the afanc can also be traced through references in British and Celtic folklore.

Sometimes described as taking the form of a crocodile, giant beaver or dwarf, it is also said to be a demonic creature.

The afanc was said to attack and devour anyone who entered its waters.

Various versions of the tale are known to have existed. In one telling the wild thrashings of the afanc caused flooding which drowned all the people of Britain.

Several sites lay claim to its domain, among them Llyn Llion, Llyn Barfog and Llyn-yr-Afanc (the Afanc Pool), a lake in Betws-y-Coed.

Prince Madoc was the son of Owain Gwynedd, one of the greatest and most important rulers in the

In 1170 Owain died and, almost immediately, a violent and very bloody dispute arose between his 13 children regarding the succession.

Madoc and his brother Rhirid were so upset and angered by events that they decided they wanted nothing more to do with their family or their homeland.

They duly took ship from Rhos on Sea and sailed westwards to see what they could find.

What Prince Madoc found, so the legend runs, was America. He and his brother managed to cross the Atlantic and land on the shores of the New World.

His sailors inter-married with a local Native American tribe, and for years the rumour of Welsh-speaking Native American tribes was widely believed.

St David

Born around the year 520 on the cliffs in a wild thunderstorm near the city that’s now named after
him, David was believed to be the son of Sanctus, king of Ceredigion and a nun called Nonnita (Non).

Stories of St David’s miracles include bringing a dead boy back to life by splashing the child’s face with tears and restoring a blind man’s sight.

David’s best-known miracle allegedly took place in the village of Llanddewi Brefi.

He was preaching to a large crowd, but some people had difficulty hearing him.

Suddenly a white dove landed on David’s shoulder, and as it did, the ground on which he stood rose up to form a hill, making it possible for everyone to see and hear him. Today, a church stands on the top of this hill.

And, of course, the Mabinogion...
The Mabinogion is a collection of tales taken from medieval Welsh manuscripts. Based partly on historical events, many recount myths and legends dating from the 11th century.

The complex stories are set in a bizarre and magical landscape which corresponds geographically to the western coast of Wales and are full of white horses that appear magically, giants, beautiful, intelligent women and heroic men.

Story: WalesOnLine

Friday, 17 October 2014


Since 2006 I have been sharing video investigations of paranormal activity captured inside my home, and in particular the master bedroom which appears core to many of the activities recorded there.

Presented by Chris Halton
What I discovered over 8 years of filming, is that some `orb` activity is clearly not as many sceptics would describe as dust motes, bugs, linen fibre, water vapour et al.

Before I continue further, I do agree that much of what people believe to be `orbs`, isn`t, and real activity captured on digital still is virtually impossible to prove as spiritual.

However, some events captured on video can be an entirely different story as my research suggests.

In my analysis I was able to share examples where some `orbs`, clearly reacted and interacted with my presence, and having the fortune of having such a protracted study period in one location I was able to furnish some very compelling results from my studies.

In this video presentation I share the results of a very recent study inside that room, and by using comparisons to past events from the rich source of material available from my Youtube page, I can show that the presences we sometimes falsely ascribe as `orbs`, are clearly a sentient intelligence that not only interacts, but also appears time after time in similar form and `modus operandi`.

           From the haunted bedroom. Are these the ghostly paws of an animal captured here on camera?

Of course, I realise that to some unenlightened minds, my analysis will always be `dust`` - despite evidence to the contrary, and within the context of this study, that argument `holds no water` as shown in this footage.

I believe that if we are able to advance our own studies of the paranormal, all research should be inclusive and open to the possibilities that the paranormal embraces many facets of study, and clearly within the context of `orbs`, everything is not always what you may presume it to be.

I hope you enjoy my latest work and feel free to share to your favourite blogs or discussion forums.

Chris Halton

Monday, 13 October 2014


Mysterious stones on Mountain Shoriya (Kemerov region, Russia) have puzzled both scientists and ordinary men. The wall of rectangular stones piled up on top of each other is already being called the “Russian Stonehenge”. According to one of the stories, they were found back in ancient times.

Though it aroused the interest of researchers in 1991, it was not explored then due to lack of financing. The research was just resumed in autumn 2013.

The granite blocks impress with their dimensions. They are making up walls in a polygonal masonry technique. Geologists compare them with Stonehenge and Egyptian pyramids.

The walls are 40 meters high, and they stretch for almost 200 meters. The length of some of the stones is about 20 meters, and their height is 5-7 meters. The weight of every block is more than 1000 tons.

Those who built them could have had technologies that we do not know of today. It still remains unclear why the walls were erected and how their builders managed to lift the blocks at the height of more than 1000 meters.

Another possible explanation is that the stones could have formed as a result of geological processes caused by strong weathering of the Mountain Shoriya rocks.

The geologists however, do not rush to make any conclusions, more proof is required.

Some events that were happening during the autumn expedition could probably be called mystical. The compasses of the geologists behaved very strangely, for some unknown reason their arrows were deviating from the megaliths. What could this mean? All that was clear was that they came across an inexplicable phenomenon of the negative geomagnetic field. Could this be a remnant of ancient antigravity technologies?

Maybe the location of the ruins will help scientists to discover their purpose.

No stone walls like these ones have ever been found in the territory of Russia.

Participants of the expedition suppose that these ruins are a material proof of the theory according to which Siberia could be the ancestral home of all humanity. It’s the first time in the entire human history when walls made from 2-4 tonne (!) blocks were found.

Who created them and what for? It does not seem that they could be created by nature. Besides, according to the traces preserved until today, these structures were destroyed by a terribly powerful explosion. It could have been a catastrophic earthquake or a strike of a space meteorite…

At the same time, other scientists do not agree with such sensational assumptions. The proof is the following – the oldest of the ruins is not more than ten thousand years old. According to them it’s not correct to call the object the “Russian Stonehenge” either, because no cultural remains have ever been found here, that is why it’s quite unlikely the walls were created by humans.

Well, maybe archaeological excavations will bring some artifacts to life?

Yes, people can be really creative. But we have a lot of proof that nature is not less creative than people, and while we are still unsure about the origin of the ruins, we can give free rein to our imagination…

Source: EnglishRussia

Sunday, 12 October 2014


In early 20th-century St. Louis, Pearl Curran claimed to have conjured a long-dead New England puritan named Patience Worth through a Ouija board. Although mostly unknown today, the resulting books, poems, and plays that Worth “dictated” to Curran earned great praise at the time. Ed Simon investigates the curious and nearly forgotten literary fruits of a “ghost” and her ghostwriter.

Pearl Curran in 1919 – Source [copyright unknown].
On July 8th 1913, after months of experimentation, a St. Louis housewife named Pearl Curran finally had a breakthrough with her Ouija board. From this initial correspondence, Pearl Curran wrote (or depending on your perspective, transcribed) millions of words she attributed to a seventeenth-century poet who called herself Patience Worth. Historical novels, religious tracts, and lyric poems were published and embraced by mainstream scholars as authentic examples of early American literature mediated from beyond the grave. The figure of Patience Worth was commended as an exemplary writer by organizations such as the Joint Committee of Literary Arts of New York. She was included in journals alongside such future canonical authors as Edna St. Vincent Millay and she appeared in collections such as the Anthology of Magazine Writing and the Yearbook of American Poetry. All the more amazingly, readers and critics agreed that this was new work by a woman who claimed to have been dead for more two and a half centuries.

These writing were either authentic documents that provided astounding evidence of humanity’s survival after death, or an intricate and impressive hoax that hoodwinked scholars, critics, and editors. There is also another possibility, that these works were the improvisational literary productions of a prodigy who believed herself to be a conduit of some muse from the hereafter. Questions of authorship and intention aside, what remains are the books, plays and poems – once popular literature, and now forgotten. Curran’s output prompts us to ask some fundamental questions about history, genre, intention, affect, authorship, and why we choose to read what we read. Furthermore, her writings are a fascinating curio of an era in American literary history when academics and quacks, the rational and the occult, scholarship and magic all mingled together in popular discourse.

Patent for a Ouija board, filed in 1891 – Source.

Pearl Curran was born in 1883, towards the end of a century that saw the national landscape and the Unites States’ position in the world radically altered. She and her audience were inheritors of the sometimes bizarre religious diversity of the American nineteenth century. It was a century that began with the religious anarchism of the Second Great Awakening, was defined by an apocalyptic Civil War, and which moved into the bourgeois and respectable spiritualism of the late Victorian era.

Occult experimentation was embraced by leading thinkers and writers like William James who with other leading scientists founded the American Society for Psychical Research. Curran was enmeshed in a culture of esoterica that she would have encountered during a Victorian adolescence. And the figure of Patience Worth “revealed” herself at a perfect time, just as the rising international power that was the United States began to critically re-evaluate its seventeenth century Puritan origins.

Colonial American writings were long dismissed as embarrassing anti-intellectual relics by great nineteenth-century authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the early years of the twentieth century however, scholars began re-evaluating the seventeenth-century canon. Pearl Curran supplied a perfect model in her creation of Patience Worth, who was included alongside actual poets as an example of colonial American artistic genius. As the United States began to assert itself on a global stage it looked back towards its then agreed upon New England origins and began to refine its creation myth, extolling the virtues of Puritan thrift, industriousness, and individuality. Importantly for Curran the colonial period was also one where women’s voices were surprisingly not ignored. In early American poetry the seventeenth-century poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) dominates as the single most exemplary and important literary figure. Other women writers like Mary Rowlandson (1637-1711) were the Puritan equivalents of best-sellers.

This new found enthusiasm for colonial American letters arrived at a perfect time for Curran. Indeed, the relative respect that colonial women writers like Bradstreet received dovetailed well with the feminine realm that was the early Twentieth century séance. As Gioia Diliberto makes clear in her excellent introduction to the Patience Worth phenomena, “Patience Worth: Author from the Great Beyond”: “Soon, scores of self-anointed mediums… burst on the scene, most of them women, whose passivity and purity, it was believed, made them ideal vessels to receive news from the Other Side.” It’s possible to view Curran as a native literary genius who, unable to promote her own authentic voice, is forced to invent a fictional persona that operates as her literary mask. Indeed, this is often how the case of Patience Worth is read. It’s not without precedent. From the Fox sisters of upstate New York to Madame Blavatsky, the séance has often been a woman’s game, able to supply a distinctly feminine voice when the larger society would not otherwise listen.

It is certainly possible to see Patience Worth in these terms. But it’s limiting to exclude other possible interpretations of this strange corpus. Curran cannot be seen as just another literary-minded medium. Her case was different. Mediums like Blavatsky strongly delineated between their own writings and the short passages attributed to spirits. Curran however produced an incredible number of writings, all of which were attributed to Patience Worth. There are scores of poems, letters, and novels including Telka, The Sorry Tale, Hope Trueblood, The Pot upon the Wheel, Samuel Wheaton, An Elizabethan Mask among other works. How should one consider the sheer amount and breadth of such works? If a hoax, it is still a hoax that is anything but simple, or easy.

Although we do not need to explain such a prolific career framed in such a bizarre manner by suggesting that Patience Worth was a real person, there exists the possibility that Curran understood authorship in a more unconventional way than the wider culture frequently does. Between the possibilities of Patience Worth’s reality and Pearl Curran’s duplicity there exists a third option: that Pearl Curran transcribed these works believing Patience Worth to be real, a creation of her own mind communicating these words back to her. An internal muse if you will, whose existence serves to reevaluate the simple individual models of authorship we conventionally hold to. As such, her corpus provides an occasion for thinking about where inspiration comes from, how authors generate their writings, and the ways in which something as seemingly well understood as writing still contains a kernel of mystery at its core.

Outside of occult circles, the embarrassing metaphysical nature of Patience Worth has relegated her to complete obscurity in the academic world for a century. There is not much respectability in the academic study of something that seems to be a hoax. This is an unfair fate for writings that, though not as technically proficient as works deemed canonical, still deserve study and attention, not just because of the way they illuminate an unusual period of American literary history, but also because the writings themselves are arguably more aesthetically proficient than one might expect. The critics who extolled the quality of Worth/Curran had their reasons for doing so, some of which still hold up.

It should be emphasized again, that these are not just short lyric poems that one could see a Ouija-using author writing in a few minutes. The sheer length of some of her books is astounding in itself, to say nothing of their literary quality. One need only flip through The Pot upon the Wheel, a verse play whose dialogue sometimes reminds one of the spiritual urgency of a classical religious text like the Bhagavad-Gita. Or take A Sorry Tale, a more than six hundred page esoteric account of the life of Christ that at points reaches a prophetic pitch calling to mind the theology of William Blake.

Thankfully, this critical blind-spot is beginning to be rectified, with scholarly books like Daniel Shea’s The Patience of Pearl: Spiritualism and Authorship in the Writings of Pearl Curran published in 2012, and the aforementioned Diliberto article in 2010. They provide an excellent overview on the particulars of the Patience Worth case, analyzing not just biography, but also the context that produced these writings, and their reception and their loss.

When dipping into the voluminous corpus of writings one of the first things you notice is that they don’t bare the haphazard stream-of-consciousness style so common in the automatic writing practiced by Dadaist poets and other Avant-Garde groups. But they also don’t read like seventeenth century American prose and poetry, despite what early critical advocates of Pearl Curran like Casper Yost may have claimed. At most, one could say that the works exhibit qualities of pastiche in their depiction of how American Puritans wrote and talked – though none of this should diminish the very real personality that seems to come through the communications of Patience Worth.

She appears as variously smart, pious, sentimental, feisty, and sarcastic. She doesn’t read as a mere echo of Curran herself. As artistic creation, the idea of Patience Worth rather than her words are what is central. In reading her verse, one encounters a persona that, while three-dimensionally vibrant, doesn’t seem to match our expectations of how a seventeenth century New England woman would write. While syntax and phrasing can seem largely “authentic” there is little of the orthodox Calvinism one finds in actual early American poets like Bradstreet, Edward Taylor or Michael Wigglesworth. Rather, she seems to offer a broadly spiritual, new age philosophy in keeping with the circumstances of her “discovery.”

In terms of theme and language she is broadly “American” in the way we think of, say, Dickinson or Frost as being particularly American. She seems to mimic Dickinson (who was only really being rediscovered at the time that Pearl Curran was working) in her poem “Who said that love was fire?” Curran writes:

Who said that love was fire?
I know that love is ash.
It is the thing which remains
When the fire is spent,
The holy essence of experience.

Admittedly, she departs from Dickinson’s distinctive ballad meter which conjures the structure of hymn, but at least visually the poem calls to mind the short lyrics of the “Bard of Amherst”. While not particularly sophisticated, there are some notable elements: the rhetorical question that she leads with, the images of fire and ash, and the line, “It is the thing which remains” (particularly evocative of Dickinson). The most unfortunate aspect of the poem is its last line which reminds one of particularly poor translations of Rumi or Hafez, and also reflects so much of the orientalist theosophical milieu that Pearl Curran traveled in – certainly much more than it does seventeenth century Puritan American religious lyric.

Pearl Curran in an undated photograph – Source [copyright unknown].

In another poem, “Child’s Prayer,” she takes as her theme the sort of sentimental subject that would not be out of place in Bradstreet, while still mimicking the style of nineteenth century American poets who were influenced by the Second Great Awakening:

Ah, Emptied Heart:

Ah, emptied Heart! The Weary o’ the path!
How would I to fill ye up o’ love!
With its declarations and its exclamation points she reminds us of Walt Whitman, even if she does not share his recognizable mighty lines.
An example of one of her more sophisticated lyrics is in the poem “The Earth the Fields Lay Stretched in Sleep.” She writes:
Dead, all dead!
The earth, the fields, lie stretched in sleep
Like weary toilers overdone.
The valleys gape like toothless age,
Besnaggled by dead trees.
The hills, like boney jaws whose flesh hath dropped,
Stand grinning at the deathy day.

In her depiction of an autumnal melancholy, she conflates nature with skeletal corpse images, a gothic personification similar to the memento mori tradition of the Puritanism she was supposedly an adherent of. Later, a lily is compared to a “brown-robed nun,” an entirely un-Puritan image in this strangely ecumenical religious world of Patience Worth. This same heterodox antinomian faith is evident in the title to her poem, “Predestined Love,” where one of the sternest doctrines of Calvinism is tweaked into one of universal love.

As this brief reading has shown, there is much literary merit in Curran’s work – so why then this neglect? The bizarre origin of the writings shouldn’t be an impediment to a reasoned study of their structural qualities. After all, William Butler Yeats attributed several of his lyrics to a spirit named Leo Africanus whom he encountered through the use of a Ouija board while a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Without suggesting that the writings of Curran and Yeats are of similar artistic value, it would seem that dismissing them entirely on the grounds that there is a connection to the occult is unfair if a similar standard isn’t applied to Yeats. In both of these cases it might be helpful to think of the mediated personalities as being complex heteronyms of a type exemplified by the Portuguese modernist poet Fernando Pessoa (a contemporary of Curran and one also fascinated by automatic writing and the occult). A heteronym is a particularly complicated pen-name; in addition to a false name there is an entirely false identity, a fictional writer where literariness is extratextual to the poem or book itself. These concepts, of the heteronym and the muse, inspiration and authorship raise interesting questions about the epistemology and ontology of literature. Where does literature ultimately come from? What is legitimate as an object of reading and study? Can a literary hoax still be read as literature?

Left: A spirit photograph of Yeats taken, according to Stanford University, during a seance in Paris around 1914 – Source. Right: Pessoa in 1929 taking a drink at Abel Pereira da Fonseca, Lisbon 

Astrological chart for Ricardo Reis, one of Pessoa’s heteronyms – Source.
The Patience Worth case complicates questions of authorship. While it seems clear that Curran is the literal author, the fictionality surrounding the very productions of authorship helps to complicate our conceptions of creation and interpretation. Since the French philosopher Roland Barthe’s 1967 essay “The Death of the Author,” both formalists and historicists have become increasingly comfortable with the idea that authorship itself is a sort of fiction. Patience Worth/Pearl Curran makes this fictionality all the more obvious. As such, it seems that she is more than overdue for a critical rediscovery.

In the long view of cultural history, her place becomes even more interesting. Biography and history become compressed and the relationship between who is a real person and who is a fictional person becomes more ontologically uncertain. I’m going to break any sort of pose of objectivity and say emphatically that I do not believe that Patience Worth was anything more than a full-bodied creation of Pearl Curran. It’s worth pointing out that there are no records of any actual Patience Worth having lived either in New England, or Dorsetshire where Curran claimed the poet was born. Yet, imagine someone reading Curran a millennium from now. Would such distinctions as whether Worth is “real” or not matter to this imagined reader? For classicists there are arguments about the “reality” of an author named Homer, ones that scholars working on much later periods don’t have to consider in the same way. Philosophically, if a heteronym’s words seem as full and real as an actual person, why can’t they be treated as such? The fullness of the fictionality of Patience Worth is that it is a fictionality which imposes itself on the real world, and that in itself is a fascinating act of literary creation.

Ed Simon is a PhD candidate in the English department at Lehigh University. He specializes in transatlantic seventeenth and early eighteenth-century literature with a focus on religion and colonization. His writings have appeared in various publications, including The Revealer and the Journal of the Northern Renaissance.

Source: PublicDomainReview

Saturday, 11 October 2014


Catherine Kennedy claims spirits take hold of her to send messages to loved ones they've left behind
The is the chilling moment a ghost inhabits a woman’s pen and writes a letter from beyond the grave.
Catherine Kennedy filmed herself in the Scottish guest house she shares with her husband, Antonio, to show people how she communicates with the dead.
Holding a pen lightly, she claims spirits who are present at the time take control of it and share messages for loved ones they’ve left behind.
“Whenever the spirits take the pen, my writing completely changes and my hand guides across the page,” Catherine explains.
“I just sit back and let them finish. It’s an incredible gift.”
From the age of eight, Catherine experienced premonitions but said she was too young to understand what they meant."
“I was only young and my neighbour suddenly popped into my head while I was playing in the garden,” Catherine says.
“Days later, my mum told me he’d passed away. After that, it kept happening. I’d have visions of people I knew, then hear terrible news. It didn’t scare me, I’d always believed there was more to life than what we could see.”
It wasn’t until Catherine was older that she realised the extent of her supernatural skills.
“I was at home relaxing when I got a powerful urge to pick up a pen and paper,” Catherine says.
“I asked if anyone was there and my hand started tingling. Then I watched in amazement as my wrist was guided across the paper.”
Catherine didn’t stop until she’d written four pages.
Stranger yet, it was in perfect Italian.
“I speak a bit because Antonio is Italian but I don’t write in it,” Catherine says.
“At first he didn’t believe me, but when he read the letters he said it was obvious it wasn’t me. He was amazed at my flawless translation.”
Signed ‘Ivo’ at the end of the letter, Antonio knew exactly who’d come to say hello.
“Ivo was one of his friends from Italy, who had died 10 years earlier,” Catherine says.
She urged Antonio to try to speak to him too, and picking up the pen, Antonio felt the same force.
“Ivo shared his experience of the afterlife but he swore us to secrecy,” Catherine says.
“He also reminisced with Antonio about tearing around in their teens and Antonio riding on the back of his scooter.”
For the next 12 years, Ivo communicated on and off.
“Antonio once saw him on the stairs and it nearly frightened the life out of him,” Catherine says.
“After that we came up with a system. Ivo would let us know when he wanted to talk by moving a hat from one side of the wardrobe to the other.”
In time, Catherine felt comfortable confessing their secret to those closest to them.
Friends and family were fascinated and starting asking if she could contact their loved ones who had passed.
“One pal asked me to see who would come through for her. I started writing and couldn’t believe what I read on the page,” Catherine laughed.
“It said ‘Yes we have no bananas.’ I thought I can’t show her that, it’s nonsense. But her jaw dropped. It was her dad’s writing and he always used to sing the silly song with that name.
“With those few words, she knew her dad was watching over her.”
Using her gift, Catherine has helped hundreds of people receive messages from the other side.
This year, she published a book filled with their stories.
“I know some people won’t believe me, but I’m helping these spirits stay alive on the page,” she says.
My view:
While I do believe in spirit or automatic writing, it is perhaps the easiest to claim without proof.
For me, that proof would be an examination of her `spirit writing` by a handwriting expert to prove that each style is as completely different from her own style, as could be proven to be. 
All we have in this short video is one example with no comparisons to her own natural style or indeed other examples she claims as the work of other presences.
Also whether any of the spirits writing through her have a proven life which corroborates all that she claims as evidence in her own writings.
In short, without proper corroboration through analysis of her writing and research, her claims are sadly unproven.