The Curse of the Crying Child

The Anguished Mandownload

(c) Google Images. All images remain the property of their original creator.

The Crying Boy

I have written about curses before and they are certainly something that continue to interest people.

Rumours of this curse seem to have originated in 1985 when the Sun newspaper (tempted to put newspaper in inverted commas there) reported that a firefighter from Essex claimed that paintings of The Crying Boy by Giovanni Bragolin were frequently found undamaged in the ruins of burned out buildings. This supposedly meant that firefighters refused to have the print in their own homes.

Numerous people seemed to come forward following this article, including Ron and Mary Hall of South Yorkshire, Janet Wyatt (Isle of Wight) and Linda Fleming (Leeds). All claimed they had either experienced fires involving the painting (left undamaged), or had tried to destroy the painting (and failed).

The most logical conclusion here is that the painting is coated in some kind of fire retardant material which preserves it during fires. However, you could also argue that surely this would also apply to other paintings involved in house fires that don’t survive  the blaze and it doesn’t seem to be fire retardant in the YouTube video at the end of this article.

Supposedly if you hang a picture of a crying girl by Bragolin beside the crying boy then you will either be fire free, or experience an even worse house fire. So clearly the crying boy is either a lonely pyromaniac who just needs the love of a good woman, or a pyromaniac who also has social issues.

I’m unsure if all of the paintings by Bragolin are cursed, or there are particular prints that cause issues. He painted upwards of 65 paintings of crying children, so maybe just boycott the artist if you feel nervous. There are also reports that other artists have similarly cursed paintings and you can read about some of those here.

If you would like to read more about the Bragolin curse in particular then I can recommend this excellent post by messybeast.

So is it true? Who knows. People who have sadly lost their homes in terrible fires want something or someone to blame for their misfortune, that is human nature. The key point of the curse is supposed to be that you are at more risk from it once you know about it. People often try to find some sort of sense in tragedy, because understanding is the key to banishing the terrifying unknown. It is always nice to have a scapegoat and furthermore, to feel as though through doing something, like getting rid of a painting for example, you are averting some future tragedy that might otherwise be out of your control.

To me it is often scarier imagining what is out there in the darkness than in confronting it. More often than not we find a purely logical explanation for the demonic howling outside the window at 3am (extended happy hours or amateur karaoke are the most common causes around here). But there is always that more primitive side of your brain that whispers, what if.

I decided to write this post after walking past a charity shop window the other day and seeing a large picture of a crying boy in the window. I remembered reading about this years ago and it made me wonder about the history of the painting I had seen. Was it one by Bragolin, or are crying children just amazing muses? The good news is that it didn’t seem horribly charred, so maybe it was just that crying children didn’t really evoke the sort of warm, non depressing atmosphere the donator goes for in their interior decor. I like to think of myself as a skeptic most of the time (although I do have this yearning for there to be something more, hence this blog) but I find it interesting that I don’t think I would hang a painting by Bragolin in my home. Would you?

Articles

Atlas Obscura

Dr David Clarke

The Hands Resist Him

The Anguished Man

Videos

 

 

 

 

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Good news. I’m not dead.

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I am just writing a quick post to explain my rather long absence from the blog.

I am moving to South Korea in two weeks and preparations for this have kept me away from writing for quite some time. There has been a bit of writers block thrown into the mix if I am honest, too.

There will be some new posts to come fairly soon, but please allow some time for me to settle into a new country and a new job.

Thank you for those who have continued to read this blog and welcome to those who have recently subscribed. Apologies again for the rather sporadic nature of the posts over the last year.

As always, I appreciate those who have contacted me to check I wasn’t abducted by pirates or something equally exciting.

Lost Love

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(c) original creator. All images remain the property of their original creator.

Disclaimer: I am posting this for fun and because people enjoy reading about these things. If you choose to play any of these games then you do so at your own risk.

How to Play

Notes

  • Credit goes to Reddit. I have adapted the ritual a little to add a few bits here and there that I think may be beneficial.
  • The idea behind this ritual is to allow you to move on from a lost love. We’ve all been there and pizza and ice cream only helps so much. As the OP states, fellow skeptics can treat this as a mental exercise, a placebo of sorts.
  • You need to do some research into water deities and pick one that most resonates with you. Here are a couple of links to get you started: 1 and 2. The links include some ideas of what the deities like offering wise, but if all else fails, food or wine is usually a good bet.
  • You can use essential oil in your bath to make the experience a little more enjoyable. If you want to know which oils may be most beneficial for you, you can read a little here.
  • You may feel drained after completing this ritual. That is normal.
  • There is no issue with stopping this ritual halfway through and starting again at another time.

Equipment

  • A bathtub.
  • Scented soap.
  • Essential oil.
  • An offering for your deity (food etc).
  • Candles and matches (optional).
  • Something on or in which to place your offering.

Steps

  • Set up the room for your ritual. This involves placing and lighting candles, if desired. Run a warm bath and add a few drops of an essential oil, or whatever else you would like to be in the water. You need to create an atmosphere where you feel safe and comfortable.
  • Place your offering on a plate, or in a glass, or however you would like to present it.
  • Try and imagine the water as more than it is. Close your eyes and picture it as suffused with light, alive with energy. This may take some practice for some among you, but there is no real right or wrong with this particular ritual.
  • Call on the deity of your choice, this can simply be repeating their name out loud, or talking to them if you choose. Explain that you wish to be cleansed of a former love, so you can move forward and leave the sadness behind. There are no particular words or way of doing this, this ritual is about you.
  • At this point, close your eyes and decide for yourself if you are truly ready. Are you able to leave this love affair behind and move on? There is no time frame for recovering from grief, it isn’t a race, you may need to block someone on social media, find a way of distracting yourself or just come to terms with what has happened. This is the moment to think about all of that.
  • If you are ready, simply begin to cleanse yourself all over with your scented soap of choice.
  • Say out loud, ‘I cleanse my body of you (ex lovers name). I cleanse my spirit of you. With this act I sever the link that has connected us. With this cleansing, I move on with my life as you no longer have the same place in it. Our bond is hereby broken. I wish you no ill will and hope we both move on in perfect love and perfect peace. All that I have shared with you, I reclaim, all that I reclaim will empower me once more.’
  • Finish your bath. Before leaving the bathroom, thank the deity for its presence.
  • Go to bed and sleep.
  • In the next day or so place your offering beside a body of water and leave it there.

 

Safety first

Usual warning about lighting candles and burning down the house you twisted firestarters.

Risk level

Low.

Would I play?

Yes.

The Senorio Ritual

Manor.jpg

(c) Martyn Smith. All images remain the property of their original creator.

Disclaimer: I am posting this for fun and because people enjoy reading about these things. If you choose to play any of these games then you do so at your own risk.

How to Play

Notes

  • Credit goes to The_Kalawishis
  • This ritual is simply provided for interest. I don’t recommend performing this. Unless any of you own a secluded manor near Mexico City then you wouldn’t be able to play anyway.
  • Also known as The Manor Ritual. It took place in a Manor (obviously) near Mexico City in the eighteenth century.
  • Usually played by peninsulars and criollos, New World figures who were at the top of the sistema de castas racial hierarchy.
  • It is said that this ritual was only performed a few times and had died out almost completely by the time of Caste War of Yucatan (a Mayan uprising) took place.
  • There may be links to the human sacrifice rituals which were practiced by the Aztecs, although the OP notes that such links are tenuous at best. The connection appears to be that the ritual was performed near Tenochtitlan and involved staircases and blood.
  • The effigy was most commonly fashioned from straw, cloth and wood. Although it is said that the family performing the ritual would, in extreme cases, use a deceased Native or African laborer, painted and dressed appropriately.
  • There are over twenty variations of this ritual, each deviating in insignificant ways.
  • It is not clear what ‘black blood’ actually is. The OP describes it thus, ‘in illustrations, it is often depicted as a red liquid, dark to the point of almost being black (in one source it is completely black, the same color as the text). Given its name, some have ventured to conjecture that black blood is blood mixed with ashes, although that conjecture does not help answer the question of exactly what animal the blood would come from.’

 

Equipment

  • A  secluded manor house with two stories and a straight stairwell ascending from one to the other.
  • An assistant.
  • A chair.
  • A pike.
  • Linen.
  • Black blood.
  • An effigy of the ‘victim.’
  • A sack or piece of cloth.
  • Three candles
  • A full length mirror.
  • A lighter or matches.

Steps

  • First you must select a room in which to play. The room should be above another. The OP describes this room as “el piso de la sala superior es el techo de la sala inferior’, that is, the top rooms floor is the bottom rooms ceiling.” You should clearly be able to hear someone speaking in the ‘superior’ room.
  • Clear all furniture from both rooms (above and below), including all portraits or photographs, especially anything that is connected to the family (heirlooms etc). If either room has windows, these must be covered.
  • A lone chair should be placed in the middle of the ‘superior’ room, facing the door.
  • The floor of the interior room should be covered with linen.
  • A pike should be stood perpendicular to the floor in the ‘inferior’ room.
  • An assistant should prepare an effigy of the intended ‘victim’ of the ritual, usually an enemy of the family. This effigy should be attached to the pike, ensuring that it does not touch the floor.
  • After full dark, the performer, customarily female, should sit on the chair in the middle of the ‘superior’ room.
  • From here there are some minor deviations based on the time period in which the ritual was performed. To avoid confusion I am using the later method.
  • The assistant should now place a full length mirror upright beside the door and light three candles before leaving the room, covering their face with a sack or cloth as they do so.
  • You should now place the mirror so it leans against the door as vertically as possible, facing the chair.
  • The assistant should take a case of ‘sangre nagra’ or ‘black blood’ to the inferior room. They should pour the black blood over the effigy and loudly chant, ‘el te derriba,’ (he casts you out) seven times. The blood should cover the effigy and drip onto the linen on the floor.
  • Once you hear the seventh, ‘el te derriba,’ you should begin your part of the ritual. You should cover your ears with your hands and say, ‘dios no ve este casa,’ (God does not see this house) seven times.
  • Now stare at the mirror and bare your teeth at your reflection, blinking as seldom as possible.
  • The assistant should wait a moment for ‘el diablo ha tenido suficiente para beber,’ which translates as ‘when the devil has had enough to drink.’ This is usually the moment when the last of the black blood has stopped dripping onto the linen.
  • The assistant should now leave the ‘inferior’ room and go to the ‘superior’ room and knock on the door. This alerts you to begin the next phase of the ritual.
  • You should now leave the room, relocating the mirror and candles to their former positions on the way out. Approach the head of the stairwell.
  • The assistant should return to the ‘inferior’ room and detach the effigy of the ‘victim’ from the pike, bringing it to you. You now throw it down the stairs, saying, ‘el te derriba.’
  • The assistant should retrieve the effigy and hand it to you so the process can be repeated until it totals seven times, although some deviations specify only three. You should repeat ‘el te derriba’ each time, getting louder with each repetition.
  • The effigy should now be burned by the assistant.
  • The assistant can now clean up, which includes removing the mirror and candles and storing them in a secluded, but secure location. The mirror must never be broken.
  • If the ritual has been performed correctly, the victim should come to a sudden and unfortunate end within seven days. This can be via illness or a dark figure that will appear in their room and spirit them away. If however the ritual has been performed incorrectly, then you and your family will pay a heavy price.

Safety first

It is said if you perform this ritual incorrectly you will hear Sympathy for the Devil playing repeatedly in your ear for all eternity. Not really.

Risk level

High.

The OP details a great number of things that can go wrong with this ritual. I quote directly from the OP here:

‘The most common mistake is to pour too much black blood onto the effigy, letting the liquid drip onto the floor for far too long.

Though the ritual should start well after dusk, various sources emphasize how it needs to be performed quickly, and a small number warn that if the ritual drags on after midnight then it could have deadly consequences.

Rare but valuable personal accounts from performers of the ritual often note how they can feel an unnerving presence around them as they sit, head covered or uncovered, in the superior room. Notably, those who adhered to the later custom would often see their reflection slowly and subtly morph into a repulsive and demonic figure, baring its teeth back at the performer in the dim light.

An obscure account from a servant’s diary, one that was restored by a local librarian after many weeks of labor, tells of an envious aging wife who wanted to kill a woman whom her husband was doting on with the ritual, using the later custom. The servant, who was the assistant for that particular ritual, accidentally poured too much black blood onto the effigy, thus letting the ritual drag on past midnight. He described how, just as the trickle of black blood was beginning to slow, he heard a series of frantic screams from the wife above him. He rushed up to the superior room and pushed open the door, knocking the mirror onto the floor and shattering it. The wife claimed to have seen the devil completely materialize in the mirror and attempt to step out of it before it was shattered. Various times after that event, the servant records sightings of a dark red, almost black figure in various places around the manor and its grounds, sightings which stop with the death of the wife less than a month after the ritual.

The second most common problem that occurs during the ritual involves the phase when the effigy is thrown repeatedly down the stairs. From the repeated impacts many effigies fall apart, and can only be taken back up a stairwell in tatters. Limited accounts of this happening all mention that a foul odor beyond that of the effigy’s material or that of black blood seems to emanate from the effigy’s exposed innards, leaving behind a sickening miasma that seems to inhabit the stairwell for weeks. Those who use the stairwell regularly after that are documented as developing symptoms similar to those supposed to be inflicted on the victim. Perhaps most disturbing was the account of a family that used a fresh cadaver of a Native laborer. They had committed to casting the laborer down the stairs a full seven times, but on the sixth time the corpse opened its eyes and growled demonically. The panicked family incinerated the effigy immediately, terminating the ritual. The family patriarch, who describes the ritual in his diary, then begins to describe vivid nightmares and episodes of sleep paralysis involving the effigy watching him as he lay in bed. He writes of these incidents almost nightly for a month before his diary inexplicably ends.’

Would I play?

No.

 

Fire Breathing

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(c) Christopher King. All images remain the property of their original creator.

Disclaimer: I am posting this for fun and because people enjoy reading about these things. If you choose to play any of these games then you do so at your own risk.

How to Play

Notes

  • Credit goes to AksysGamer
  • This is a psychological ritual similar to some I have previously posted; Doors to the Mind and In The Eye of the Giant.
  • Originates from a Native American ritual.
  • You should have a clean body for this ritual, so bathe and avoid alchol and drugs for a while beforehand.
  • Your power object should be should be something very familiar to you that will help you snap out of a trance like state. It could be a childhood toy, a photo of someone important to you, or anything along those lines.

Equipment

  • 2 candles.
  • A lighter/matches.
  • 4 mirrors, ideally full length.
  • 2 chairs.
  • 1 power object.
  • 1 mobile phone/cell phone.
  • 1 mobile phone/cell phone charger.
  • A notebook/sketchbook (if you are more artistic).
  • A compass.

Steps

  • You will need a windowless room, or a room in which all windows have been covered. The idea behind this is that this ritual uses sensory deprivation.
  • Using the compass, set one of the four mirrors at each of the four corners (North, East, South and West).
  • You will be sitting on one of the chairs. Place it facing whichever of the four corners that you feel the most drawn to. The second chair should be placed in the opposite direction, facing the opposite corner. So your chair will be facing a mirror and the other chair will be behind you when you sit down, facing the opposite mirror.
  • Place one candle in front of your chair and the other in front of the second chair. This should create opposing light sources.
  • Put your notebook/sketchbook in front of you, with the pen/pencil nearer to the mirror. Your power object should be placed close to you.
  • Consider what you hope you get from this ritual; advice, understanding, self awareness. Once you have decided this, write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Turn off as many electronic devices and outside sources of light as you can.
  • Once you have fixed what you are searching for in your mind, go to bed.
  • Put your mobile phone/cell phone onto charge and place it beside you.
  • Set an alarm for exactly 02:58. You need to ensure you get exactly three hours of sleep. Set another alarm for 07:00. Go to sleep with the question fixed firmly in your mind.
  • When you are woken by your alarm, use the light from your mobile/cellphone to find your way back to the room where your ritual is set up.
  • If anything has changed in that room then do not proceed. Go to another room and wait until your next alarm goes off at 07:00.
  • If all is as it should be, sit in your chair and pick up your notepad/sketchbook. Light the candle that is in front of you. From now on this is your light source, don’t use your phone.
  • Without blinking, gaze into the mirror in front of you. Think about what you want to know and concentrate as you continue staring into the mirror. Your goal is to reach what scientists call Hypnopompia, the moment before Lucid Dreaming. This might take some practice.
  • Do not, at any point, look into any of the other mirrors. There is nothing to say what will happen, but the OP’s grandmother said it is a very bad idea. If you accidentally do so, leave the room immediately, closing the door behind you.
  • Breathe in slowly and then exhale. Continue meditating on whatever you are seeking. When you feel it is time, pick up the notepad/sketchbook and begin writing or drawing. You will know when.
  • Leave the room when the 07:00 alarm sounds. Do not remain in the room past 07:15. You may leave early if what you see or feel disturbs you.
  • You may need to do this several times until you reach the proper state for it to work.

Safety first

As with any of these games that promise greater self awareness, it is worth  bearing in mind that it can leave us feeling vulnerable or unhappy. This game is what you make of it, so if you are in a negative place, it may be worth trying something else.

Risk level

Low. It isn’t a summoning ritual. Being surrounded by four mirrors might not be a good thing if you haven’t started that diet you’ve been thinking about for six months though – personal experience.

Would I play?

Probably.

The Tulpa Ritual

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(c) Me, myself and I. Leanne Desmond. All images remain the property of their original creator.

Disclaimer: I am posting this for fun and because people enjoy reading about these things. If you choose to play any of these games then you do so at your own risk.

How to Play

Notes

  • Credit goes to Augur-Jearn of Reddit.
  • The idea behind this ritual is to summon what the OP calls a Servitor.
  • Remember, according to myth, naming something gives it power.
  • Note that the OP states that you may come up with a name, only for this ritual not to work, or for it not to feel right. The way the ritual reads, it is almost as though you are supposed to have a name pop into your head that will just feel right to you. You shouldn’t be thinking too hard about it.
  • Although this ritual seems to claim that you should be able to create something yourself, several parts of it are similar to older rituals that are intended to call upon things already out there. The idea is that you name these formless entities, giving them power and in doing so, can bind them to you, but only for a time. The more people that know of said entity, the more powerful it would become, which might be why you are never supposed to share the name with anyone else.

Equipment

  • A notebook.
  • Pen/pencil.
  • A sterile needle.

Steps

  • You must pick a name for your Servitor. The name should then be reversed. So if your chosen name is Billy Bob, then your Servitor would be Bob Yllib, which as we will all agree, is a spiffing name for a demonic best buddy. Remove the vowels from the name.
  • You must remember the name, but do not keep it written down anywhere. You should also design a shape that will represent your new friend.
  • Following this you should focus on this shape, meditate upon it as frequently as possible. Your thoughts should either bring this thing into life, or allow something already in existence to come through to our world using your will. You should be patient with this part.
  • When you feel that you have allowed enough time for your Servitor to take shape, so to speak, then you are ready to move onto the next phase.
  • Fill your sink with water.
  • Prick your finger and allow drops of blood to fall into the water. Blood magick would indicate that the more blood you give the entity, the more bound to you it will be – however, it could also mean that said entity becomes more powerful than you would like.
  • Draw your symbol on a piece of paper and drop it into the the bloody water. Just think, you could be watching Jessica Jones right now (it’s good). Get it wet enough for the paper to dissolve, or be ripped into pieces small enough to go down the drain. Note, I accept no liability for either demonic entities, or plumbing issues following this.
  • Say aloud, ‘This signifies our friendship [Bb Yllb, or whatever your Servitor’s name is]. You are now bound to me by my sigil, doused in my blood.’
  • Remove the plug (that came out as pug then, remove any small dogs too) and allow the water, plus paper to flow out. As it does, say, ‘Our friendship has transcended into the spirit world! I declare again that you are bound to me by blood and sigil.’
  • Turn off all lights and leave all doors standing open (except your front and back door). You must now leave your house for at least ten minutes. It would be very dangerous to remain.
  • Once you return to the house, you should feel a subtle difference. Now you have brought your Servitor forth, it requires a shape. For the next month you should meditate on how your Servitor would look. Perhaps it is a cat, Angelina Jolie, a pocket watch. Whatever does it for you, no judgement.
  • As time goes on you should start to notice subtle attempts at contact. The more powerful the Servitor, the less subtle these will be. You may now begin to talk to it and meditate upon whatever you want its help with.
  • If time has passed and nothing is happening, but you feel the name was correct, the OP offers the following advice. Get an item, anything really, and have it serve as your Servitor’s vessel. Create another sigil on paper and burn it. Place the ashes into the vessel. This should help.
  • The OP says that you will need to feed your Servitor from time to time. The Servitor will let you know what it wants. You may not like what it asks for. But if you do not feed it then it may break free of you.

Safety first

Usual stuff about randomly stabbing yourself with needles and why that isn’t a great idea.

Risk level

High. I have said on this blog several times that while I am a skeptic, I do not advise using blood magick in any form. Games like this can have a psychological impact on people and there are a lot  of stories out there about what has happened following one of these sort of games involving blood. This could play on your mind. As always, it is your choice. You’re an awesome badass and I’m not the boss of you (except you, Chris. I am totally the boss of you).

Would I play?

No.

 

Hug me?

Pediophiobes (really hoping that is the plural), look away now.

Thanks to Lloyd and Natalie who alerted me to possibly the creepiest doll I have ever seen. Will she eat your skin or just sing you a pretty song in the middle of the night while she creeps up the stairs? Who knows.

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(c) Natalie Grother. All images remain the property of their original creator.

I have already talked about why we, as rational creatures (well, some of us), fear inanimate objects, or rather, the things that imitate life without actually achieving it. But I linked to Freud’s The Uncanny on a previous blog post so I won’t repeat myself here. Instead I will simply post some articles on the subject and leave you to stare longingly at the doll that style forgot.

Oh and while we’re speaking of creepy ass dolls who may nibble on you, remember Robert? I bet he remembers you.

Articles

MoviePilot

The Independent

The Guardian

Smithsonian

Jonathan Coulton knows what’s up: