Bodies of Water Bewitched by Female Ghosts
Delicate and terrible, water is home to hundreds of female ghosts.
“Humans share a natural attraction to water”, said Herman Melville in Moby Dick. “All men’s roads lead to water. Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.”
All civilizations with large bodies of water, or even any region with a pond or a well, will be bewitched by the liquid and will organize its life around it ––Which is why there are thousands of legends and stories about haunted waterways. Lagoons, swamps, vast lakes (such as the feared Loch Ness) or treacherous seas that are home to ever so delicate, ancient beasts, as old as the Earth, that awaken with the slightest touch, rumor or movement.
Manchac seems like one of the hundreds of swamps in Louisiana. But legend has it that there are creatures within it that are much scarier than alligators. It is also home to Julie White, a voodoo princess who, when she was alive, used to sit on her porch and predict the destruction of nearby villages, singing: “One day I will die and I’ll take you all with me.” On the day of her funeral in 1915, a hurricane actually slammed into the region and wiped out three villages. To this day, people still embark on nocturnal strolls around Manchac to disturb White’s ghost, like someone who prods a fierce and beautiful sleeping animal.
For reasons that one can only sense without knowing the answer (or without wanting to know it?), almost all aquatic ghosts are feminine. Water is a veil but also a monster, so delicate and so terrible.
In Humeji castle there is a maze and a well. In the well lives one of Japan’s most famous ghosts (a real Yuurimi, the kind of ghost that wears a white dress, has black hair and dismembered feet or hands). Okiku was a servant who worked for many years in one of Humeji’s dungeons. Her job was to guard ten expensive gold plaques for her master, samurai Tessan Aoyama. When he fell in love with her and secretly asked her to marry him, and she honorably declined, the samurai decided to hide one of the gold plaques. Okiku noticed that one had gone missing and began looking for it. And that is when Tessan went to her and told her that if she would not agree to be his lover he would blame her for the robbery of the plaque, and she would be tortured and then executed. Okiku, who didn’t want to spend time with Tessan, jumped into the castle well and drowned. To conceal the motive for the suicide, her master kept the plaque hidden and blamed Oriku.
Every night since her death, Okiku climbs out of the well, walks to the mansion and checks the plaques. The ghost counts them one by one and, when she reaches nine and can’t find the tenth, her spirit howls and laments unnaturally. The sight of this, which drove Tessan Aoyama mad and made him flee the castle, continues to this day, albeit less frequently and with less persistence.
Death by water, enveloped in that peaceful horror (such as a still well whose bottom is dark and infinite) combines with the feminine to create the perfect ghost. French philosopher Gaston Bachelard said that "for some souls, water is the matter of despair. It transmits a reverie whose horror is slow and tranquil […] The horror that smiles with the tender smile of a disconsolate mother. Death in still water has maternal characteristics. Peaceful horror is “dissolved in the water that makes the living seed light.”
The story of ‘the lady of the lake’ is one of the best known in the US. The typical encounter with this woman is recounted as such: a man is driving after dark along one of the roads that encircle the lake when, in front of him, on the road, he sees something strange: a young, lonesome woman dripping with water wearing a 1920s evening dress.
The man stops and asks the woman if she needs help. She asks him to take her to a nearby house and he agrees. The woman sits beside him in silence. When they arrive at the address that she had given him, the man asks the woman where she wants him to drop her, and is shocked to see that she has disappeared… She silently vanished, leaving just a wet stain on the car seat.
We have come across these drowned lives in all cultures and it would seem that all the maidens of water, apart from being under the influence of extreme melancholy, become the essence of water ––The stuff of nightmares, whose horror is slow and tranquil… perhaps exactly like a a wet stain on the car seat.
Author’s Twitter: @luciaomr
When ancient rituals became religion
The emergence of religions irreversibly changed the history of humanity. It’s therefore essential to ask when and how did ancient peoples’ rituals become organized systems of thought, each with their
Seven ancient maps of the Americas
A map is not the territory. —Alfred Korzybski Maps are never merely maps. They’re human projections, metaphors in which we find both the geographical and the imaginary. The cases of ghost islands
An artist crochets a perfect skeleton and internal organs
Shanell Papp is a skilled textile and crochet artist. She spent four long months crocheting a life-size skeleton in wool. She then filled it in with the organs of the human body in an act as patient
A musical tribute to maps
A sequence of sounds, rhythms, melodies and silences: music is a most primitive art, the most essential, and the most powerful of all languages. Its capacity is not limited to the (hardly trivial)
The enchantment of 17th-century optics
The sense of sight is perhaps one the imagination’s most prolific masters. That is why humankind has been fascinated and bewitched by optics and their possibilities for centuries. Like the heart, the
Would you found your own micro-nation? These eccentric examples show how easy it can be
Founding a country is, in some ways, a simple task. It is enough to manifest its existence and the motives for creating a new political entity. At least that is what has been demonstrated by the
Wondrous crossings: the galaxy caves of New Zealand
Often, the most extraordinary phenomena are “jealous of themselves” ––and they happen where the human eye cannot enjoy them. However, they can be discovered, and when we do find them we experience a
Think you have strange reading habits? Wait until you've seen how Mcluhan reads
We often forget or neglect to think about the infinite circumstances that are condensed in the acts that we consider habitual. Using a fork to eat, for example, or walking down the street and being
The sky is calling us, a love letter to the cosmos (video)
We once dreamt of open sails and Open seas We once dreamt of new frontiers and New lands Are we still a brave people? We must not forget that the very stars we see nowadays are the same stars and
The sister you always wanted (but made into a crystal chandelier)
Lucas Maassen always wanted to have a sister. And after 36 years he finally procured one, except, as strange as it may sound, in the shape of a chandelier. Maassen, a Dutch designer, asked the