Monster of the Week: The Penanggalan

Mother Penanggalan

Mother Penanggalan by Kurt Komoda CC2.0

The Penanggalan is a vampiric monster borne of black magic. She is a normal human during the day, usually a midwife by trade, but at night she can detatch her head from her body. The disembodied head can then fly about, dangling glistening entrails behind it, which she manipulates like tentacles.

The Penanggalan flies around looking for victims to feed on, her preferences being pregnant women, women who have very recently given birth, and babies. Victims who survive having had their blood sucked by a Penanggalan develop an almost-penanggalanalways fatal wasting disease. After feeding, and before dawn, she returns home, where she keeps a vat of vinegar handy. She soaks her entrails in the vinegar to shrink them, so they will more easily fit back into her body. This is one way to identify a Penanggalan in daylight—she always smells of vinegar.
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Supernatural S10E01 Recap: Black

Damos Gracias (Wal-Muerto) by Dylan A.T. Miner. Relief print on recycled grocery bag. 2007

Damos Gracias (Wal-Muerto) by Dylan A.T. Miner. Relief print on recycled grocery bag. 2007

Season Ten of Supernatural—pretty impressive by any standard. By the tenth season, are our expectations higher than ever, or are we willing to accept whatever the boys will give us only because we are so grateful they continue to carry on? It’s likely a symbiotic interaction, with fans recognizing the immense potential of Supernatural, and the show responding in kind to the support and anticipation.

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The Other Fox Sisters and the Spiritualist Movement


excerpt from A Fox Family History by Kevin A. Fox:

The Fox Sisters and the Birth of Spiritualism

There seems to be in the Fox family a strength and peculiar ability … an innate something which attracts and inspires.
—Mariam Buckner Pond, 1947


The cottage where Margaret and Katie Fox first communicated with spirits.

The cottage where Margaret and Katie Fox first communicated with spirits.

My children grew up in Fredonia, New York, just five miles north of Lily Dale Assembly, which bills itself as “The World’s Largest Center for the Science, Philosophy and Religion of Spiritualism.” During the summer months it is the largest community of “spiritualists” in the US. The Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York are still celebrated worldwide as key figures in establishing the Spiritualism movement in the US and Europe in the mid-nineteenth century (Putnam, 2003). They are still spoken of reverently in Lily Dale, where one can see various monuments to their work—the Lily Dale Museum is filled with documents and relics relating to their lives. While I remain a curious skeptic, my daughters and their friends have more directly investigated the possibility of communication with spirits by having occasional “readings” by resident “mediums.” When they tell me the results of their readings I am often at a loss to explain how the “counselors” come by the information they seem to possess. If you travel to Western New York, I urge you to schedule a personal reading with any of the celebrated “mediums” at Lily Dale and make your own determination.

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Greencrest Ghost

Many societies have a traditional belief in ghosts or spirits of the dead. The existence of ghosts have been reported worldwide and throughout history. The manner in which these apparitions take form varies in different cultures, but they generally appear as translucent or semi-transparent figures. Ghosts are sometimes known to move objects or take possession of others. Efforts to bring forth or communicate with specters of the dead have taken place through various rituals including the seances that typified the spiritualist movement that developed in 19th century Europe and America. Ghosts will inhabit particular locations, objects, or even people. Ghosts are often characterized as either lost souls, harbingers, or malicious spirits.


Bessie, monster of Lake Erie



Have you seen Bessie? She is the monster who lives in Lake Erie. Bessie has been sighted over the years at various location in and around the lake. The first recorded sighting was in 1793 and Bessie has been spotted with increasing frequency over the last thirty years.

Many ship crews have reported Bessie sightings, describing her as a grayish, snake-like creature 30-40 feet in length and 1 to 4 feet in diameter. In 1892 an entire ship and her captain reporting seeing a huge sea serpent 50 feet in length with a head raised four feet above the water.

Bessie, or her ancestors, may have been swimming in Lake Erie prior to European settlement.  The Seneca Indians tell the story of the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit, in which the Evil Spirit commands a huge serpent who swam the waters of the Niagara River and Lake Erie.

Other Iroquois legends describe the creature Oniare as a dragon-like horned water serpent that lurks in the Great Lakes. The Oniare was said to have a poisonous breath, and would capsize canoes and eat travelers. People would try to protect themselves from the Oniare through offerings and by invoking it’s mortal enemy–the thunder god Hinon.

As well of the native legends and historical accounts by sailors, a series of sightings in the 1990s indicate that this sea monster continues to inhabit the shallow waters of Lake Erie. When swimming or boating in Lake Erie, watch out for Bessie.