Most people are naturally afraid of dying. Most people are afraid of ghosts. These only show that most people are afraid of things they don’t understand. Although experiments have been performed to prove that the soul is a physical part of our being (the soul has weight), people are still not willing to have encounters with spiritual entities, or ghosts, to be more specific. Ghosts are the immortal souls of the damned condemned to walk the earth among the living. Because of this, ghost stories are plentiful, providing the living with something to talk about during eerie nights around the campfire.
The Risen Dead Villagers of Mori
New Zealand is home to Mount Tarawera, which is responsible for history’s largest volcanic eruption in the country in 1886 that claimed about 120 lives. As can be expected to happen during a natural disaster of this type, the sky would have appeared like it was burning, with black smoke hastily filling the air and survivors panicking and trying to get themselves and their loved ones to safety. This was just the right atmosphere for the creation of a ghost story that has gone down through the ages.
During the tragedy, Mori villages, and there were dozens of them, were either totally destroyed or buried under tons of volcanic debris and lava. The local community was brought to its knees. However, considering the breadth of the destruction, the small number of victims is either a blessing, or was it because of something else that happened days before the eruption? Many opine that all of the horrific devastation could have been predicted by a ghostly vision witnessed just 11 days prior to the volcanic eruption. The eerie loud and bright apparition was thought to be a siege by Russian warships.
There was a boatload of tourists coming back from the natural wonder called the Pink and White Terraces, and they had seen what looked like a war canoe approaching their boat, only to be mysteriously swallowed in the mist half a mile away. On the tourist boat was a Maori priest who recognized the ghost canoe as a burial waka, to which deceased chieftains had been been tied in an upright position and sent into the water. There were theories that the pre-eruption fissures brought about the rise and fall of the lake level that could have freed the war canoe from its deep resting place, but regardless of the veracity of those opinions, seeing a decomposing body floating towards your direction can be a hair raising experience. Locals now believe that the reappearance of the phantom canoe will signal a future eruption.
A Japanese Ghost Tale
Japan is not just a major source of the world’s greatest consumer electronics devices. It is also a goldmine of absolutely terrifying ghost stories. If you’ve watched The Ring and The Grudge, you’ll know what we mean. Japan’s own chilling ghost tales could have you never leaving your bed at night, even to pee.
The Botan Doro is one such tale. Loosely translated, Botan Doro means The Peony Lantern, which is one of the most popular kaidan, or “recited narrative (dan)” of “strange, mysterious, rare or bewitching apparition (kai)”. The tale originated from China in the form of a moralistic Buddhist parable about karmic love, the afterlife and fated destinies. It was taken by Asai Ryi, an enterprising author who developed it into something genuinely scary. Ryi’s translation easily popularized the tale and even evolved into its own kabuki versions. Because it put in necrophilia as an element, or at least a form of it, the story really caught on.
The fundamental story of Botan Doro tells of a beautiful woman and her young servant who frequented the house of a young samurai, who had been her lover before. The beautiful, slim woman had wasted away to death, and her grief-stricken maid servant also died after her. But because of karmic love, if we could call it that, the dead woman and her servant (who carried the creepy lantern) made their way to the samurai’s home, visiting the man every evening on the same hour every time. The unsuspecting young samurai thought all the while that the lady he was seeing every evening in his room was indeed his sweetheart, who he thought had died. If he only knew the truth, he might not have been eager to share caresses with his dead sweetheart during their nightly dalliances! A suspicious neighbor peeks into a window in the young samurai’s house and sees the young man in bed with a skeleton. Even when the samurai finds out he had been making love to the dead, he follows his dead lover to the local graveyard, where he is found buried alive and spooning the skeleton of his dead lover.
Even Ghosts Read Books
Sophia Eberlein lived a short and tragic life. As a young woman, she emigrated to the United States from her native Russia, and married Hugo Eberlein. Hugo was a renowned businessman with whom Sophia had two daughters named Alice and Lillian. She remarried after Hugo died in 1928. Her second husband was named Jacob Bentz, and the couple took up residence in Sophia’s home in Harvey, North Dakota. There was uncertainty surrounding the second marriage except for speculations that it was a stormy one. One thing remains certain though: Bentz beat up his wife to death not long after.
Jacob did his best to get all traces of violence off from the crime scene, in the intention of making it appear Sophia had perished in a car accident. However, his attempts to cover up the crime were discovered by Lillian, who was on a supposed visit to her mother. Lillian noticed the blood spatters in her murdered mother’s bedroom. This led to Bentz admitting to his dastardly deed, and he was sentenced to a life in prison, where he also died in 1944.
Author William Jackson started working in a library built on the land where the old Eberlein family home had been. He was horrified to get a glimpse of the ghost of the murdered Sophia, aside from seeing furniture move by itself and experiencing cold chills. It turned out the librarian’s office was erected on the exact spot where the murdered woman’s bedroom originally had been, which was the part of the house where she was killed, and that apparently became her final resting place.