Ghost stories are speculations…little experiments in what could happen in the afterlife. Today, a new collection of ghost stories through the ages explores the appeal of the eerie, the scary, and the previously unimaginable. Plus, we take a tour of what’s called haunted pond in Hillsborough. And, Max Brooks, author of World War Z, helps us assess what may be the perfect Granite State zombie hideout.
Listen to the full show.
Ghost stories allow us to let us face our fears head-on and challenge us to imagine a story of death so terrifying, our own mortality pales in comparison. Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist and author of The Time Traveler’s Wife. She curated and illustrated Ghostly which includes tales from Neil Gaiman, Rudyard Kipling, Ray Bradbury, and one of her own creepy tales…just in time for Halloween.
Our image of witches comes from fiction – think Harry Potter – or from what feels like faraway history, a la the Salem Witch Trials. But then, there are self-described sorceresses like Sybil Leek. She was called “Britain’s most famous witch,” a figure whose craft is not covered in ancient history books, but recorded in 20th century.
Leek was an astrologer, self-proclaimed psychic, and author who had a profound influence in the creation of Wicca. In 1966, broadcaster Studs Terkel sat down with Leek, one-on-one. With witch season peaking this weekend, we thought we’d listen back to an excerpt.
You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.
New England is full of stories. Every old road, stone wall and forgotten cellar hole has an origin tale. And with the rattling leaves and crisp black nights of fall upon us, we’re on the hunt for the spookiest, halloween-y stories. The historian Eric Stanway has found plenty of them. His new book, Haunted Hillsborough County, served as our guide.
You can see photos from Virginia and Maureen's haunted hunt, right here: Haunted Hillsborough.
For those willing to risk the extreme weather, the summit of Mount Washington has a lot to offer. Aside from the hiking and climbing, visitors can catch a bite at the Tip-Top House, tour New Hampshire’s most popular museum, and when the weather is clear, take in a spectacular view. But there is one perk that Mount Washington isn’t known for. Producer Taylor Quimby reports.
Several terrific books have been written about the Salem witch trials – the almost unfathomably bizarre chapter in American history, most of them most of them presenting reasons for the 9-month panic, be it economic hostility, the trauma of Native American warfare, conversion disorder, weather, or even proposing that fungus on grain had an LSD –like hallucinogenic effect on the puritan population.
Schiff is more of an historian, presenting context and transcripts of the trials, including fabulist accounts of witches taking the shape of hogs, birds, and cats, and flying through the air to make blood pacts with the devil. Husbands implicated wives; nephews their aunts; daughters their mothers; siblings each other. It’s a fascinating account of imagined terror that still haunts America’s national psyche today.
Come join us if you can…we’ll air the interview in November.
And for a lighter, but surprisingly insightful, explanation of the Witch Trials: