Can you believe we’re already at the end of our little ghost tour? I can.
So here it is! The last 20 stops on our Around The World In Eighty Ghosts Series. I think this proves that not all ghosts stories consist of floating white figures, roaming the halls of English manors, although there are plenty of those too.
I hope we’ve opened your eyes to some of the wonders of our weird world, and with that being said, let’s begin.
61. Banshee – Ireland and Gaelic Celtic Tradition
The Banshee, as you probably know, is an Irish spirit who’s wails and screams foretell death. Physical descriptions of the Banshee vary from beautiful, young maiden to elderly crone, but in legends she is hardly ever seen. Some accounts state that she will only herald the death of old Milesian families, or those carrying a surname beginning with O’ or Mac/Mc. The tradition of keening – a vocal lament in Gaelic funerary tradition – is likely linked to the Banshee’s origins.
62. Headless Mule – Brazil
The headless mule is a peculiar type of folkloric spirit, said to be the ghost of a woman cursed by God, usually as punishment for committing some kind of “heinous sin”. Its appearance is that of a typical mule, minus the head and often with the ability to breathe fire from either its non existent nostrils or severed neck. In some versions of the tale, the cursed woman will only transform into the mule at sundown.
63. Mae Nak Phra Khanong – Thailand
The tale of Mae Nak (Lady Nak) is popular in her native Thailand. As the story goes, a beautiful young woman, named Nak was living a wonderful little life next to the Phra Khanong canal, along with her loving husband and unborn child. Unfortunately, the husband is sent away to war, and during this time, Mae Nak and her child pass away during a difficult childbirth. Upon the husband’s return however, he finds both his wife and child happily waiting for him. As news of their deaths didn’t reach him, the three go on to play happy families with the husband none the wiser – despite any neighbour that warns of his family’s ghostly nature ending up dead. One day, the husband sees Mae Nak drop a lime, and extends her arm to pick it up – proof that she is not of this world. That night he flees to a temple, where she cannot follow. With Mae Nak (quite rightly) enraged, she terrorised the people of Phra Khanong, until she is exercised by a powerful priest. Since then, a shrine dedicated to Mae Nak has stood in the area.
64. The Wordie Hut – Antartica
Where there have been people, there will be ghosts, even in some of the most remote places on earth. The Wordie Hut, a now disused antarctic base is one such place. Although no longer used for its original scientific purposes, it is now designated a Historic Site and is maintained for tourists (because apparently Antartica actually has tourists). There have been reports of thrown objects, eerie feelings and slamming doors in the hut, which has featured as a location for the Paranormal TV program, Destination Truth.
65. Bloody Mary – Various English Speaking Folklore
We’ve all done this one haven’t we? A staple of sleepovers worldwide, Bloody Mary really needs no introduction, but I’ll do it anyway. Bloody Mary is a spirit of varied origins who is said to appear after being ritualistically invoked through darkened bathroom mirrors. After chanting her name a specific number of times (back in my day it was three) she appears as a corpse, witch or ghost, sometimes with or without a phantom baby. Her reaction also varies, but is said to include possession, strangulation or the scratching out of eyeballs. Although explanations exist for this and other mirror related phenomenon, the internet is full of tales from Bloody Mary survivors, even today.
66. Catalina Lercaro – Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
In 16th century Tenerife, there lived a woman called Catalina. Her family were upwardly mobile Genoese merchants, and to further secure their positions, Catalina was forced to marry an older man of great wealth and social status. As is often the way when a woman looses her agency to be used as a social stepping stone for her family, she was devastated. On the day of her would be wedding, Catalina threw herself into the well, in the courtyard of the family mansion, now one of the centres of History and Anthropology in Tenerife. As was customary at the time, Catalina could none be buried on Catholic ground and was instead interred in the family home, where her ghost has been sighted ever since.
67. Doppelgänger – Europe
From the German “double-walker”, a doppelgänger is an unrelated look-alike of a living person, often thought to be of paranormal origin. Although the phenomenon of “twin-strangers” is popular thanks to the rise of the internet, to see one’s own true doppelgänger is said to be an omen of doom. Those who claim to have crossed paths with a double include Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Donne and Goethe, with death or great tragedy said to follow each sighting.
68. Will-o’-the-wisp – Worldwide
Known by a variety of names worldwide, the Will-o’-the-wisp is a ghost light seen at night, particularly over bogs, swamps and marshes. In folklore, these lights are often thought of as ghosts or fairies, attempting to lure travellers to their doom. Although these lights are likely a natural phenomenon caused by oxidation of phosphine, the legend still endures and notable occurrences include the Marfa Lights in Texas, The Hessdalen Light in Norway and the Min Min light in Australia.
69. Iannic-ann-ôd – Breton Folklore
Said to be the ghost spirits of those lost at sea, the Iannic-ann-ôd can be heard along coastlines crying, “Iou! Iou!”
If you are unfortunate enough to hear this cry when fishing off the coast of North-West France, don’t worry too much. These spirits are likely to leave you well alone, unless you decide to mimic their call. The first time you call back to them, they’ll leap half the distance between you. The next time you call, they’ll cover the remainder. If you call a third and final time, they’ll reach from the waves and break your neck. So don’t make fun.
70. Barbro Eriksdotter Biekle or Barbro Påle – Swedish Folktale
Once a Swedish noblewoman and landowner, Barbro Eriksdotter was said to be a mean and vicious woman, infamous for her cruelty towards those who lived on her estate. Upon her death, in 1553, she was said to haunt the ancestral tomb in Linköping Cathedral, so her coffin was moved to a small parish church, where she continued her ghostly activities. As a last resort, she was disinterred, staked, and her coffin thrown into lake Tarmsjön. This earned the noblewoman her nickname, Barbro Påle, translating to “Barbra Stake”, a chant that can be heard from the bottom of the lake on dark nights.
71. Biasd Bheulach – Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK
Known as The Beast of Odal Pass, this nocturnal shapeshifter attacks any traveller foolish enough to traverse the pass in the dead of night. Said to take the form of a man, a man with one leg, or a dog-like beast, some folklorists suggest that this malevolent spirit is the ghost of a murdered man, looking to avenge his death. So, if you’re ever taking a midnight walk through the Odal Pass, don’t be tempted to stop and chat to a stranger, they could be a malevolent ghoul. Then again, if you’re walking through the Odal Pass at midnight, you’re probably up to no good too.
72. Headless Horseman – Worldwide Popular Culture and Folklore
As we’ve seen in previous parts of this series, headless ghosts are a bit of a theme, but this haunted horseman is perhaps the most famous of them all. Although synonymous with Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, I’m loathed to say that Horseman is entirely fictional, however, the presence of a headless, phantom rider occurs in Irish folklore, in the form of the mythical Dullahan.
The Dullahan is all one expects from the Headless Horseman of pop culture. He rides a black horse, often holding his own head, and wields a whip made of human spines. Sometimes he leads a phantom funeral coach, which signifies a coming demise. It is also said that if you see the Dullahan stop riding, a person will die. Best to avoid this Irish fairy.
73. Vampire Vegetables – Balkan and Romani Folklore
Yes, you read that right. We’re talking about vampiric veg, particularly pumpkins and watermelons (which are actually fruits, but I am taking liberties for alliterative purposes). It is said that when left outside on the night of the full moon, these tasty treats can turn deadly. Blood is said to form on the fruit’s skin, which then roam the houses of the village at night “doing harm to people”. Fortunately for us all, this type of vampire is not particularly threatening, so there’s no need to reach for a crucifix just yet. They can be destroyed by boiling the offending fruit and scrubbing it with a broom. Just make sure you burn the broom after. You don’t want that coming back to haunt you.
74. Llancaiach Fawr Manor – Nelson, Wales
Llancaiach Fawr is known by every child in South Wales as one of two go-to field trip destinations (the other being St. Fagans Welsh Living Museum). This Grade I Listed Manor features in many a list of top UK haunted locations and hosts regular ghost tours. At least four ghosts are said to call the manor home including, a former owner, a former maid who died in an accidental fire, a boy and a man in black, who may have murderous intention. So if you or your kids take a trip to Llancaiach Fawr, be sure you’re extra polite to the costumed actors. One of them could be a ghost.
75. Tokoloshe – Zuli and Xhosa Mythology
This mischievous water sprite is capable of anything from scaring children to committing murder at the behest of a witch doctor. Depicted as small, hairy creatures, the Tokoloshe is said to live near water and can be chased away with fire or the smell of smoke. Left to their own devices, they are merely annoying tricksters, but if they find themselves under the direction of a witch, they are capable of great harm. One of the most notable features of the Tokoloshe is its large penis, which due to its size, must be carried over its shoulder and around its neck like a fleshy scarf.
76. The Baldoon Mystery – Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada
Sometime in the 1800s, the farm of a Wallaceburg residence, the McDonalds, began experiencing poltergeist-like activity, including the appearance of bullets and stones, disembodied sounds and phantom fires, which culminated in the burning down of the house. Unfortunately, the events continued even after the family moved in with a relative, so they sought the help of a nearby girl with psychic powers who claimed the manifestations were the result of a witches curse. She advised the family to form a silver bullet and shoot the stray goose that had infiltrated their flock a few months previous. The bullet failed to kill the goose, but struck its wing. A few days later, McDonald visited a neighbouring woman, who’s arm was broken in the same place the goose was shot. She shrank away from him when he appeared, and after this visit, all paranormal activity at the farm stopped. A coincidence, or did McDonald identify his Witch?
77. Niles Canyon Ghost – San Francisco, USA
The Niles Canyon Ghost is one of the many “vanishing hitchhiker” ghosts we’ve touched upon already. She is said to have passed away in a car accident on February 28th of various years. Some tellings specify that she was on her way home from a dance, much like our old friend Resurrection Mary. Every February, she can be seen walking the road where she lost her life, and those who offer her a ride say she always disappears before she can reach her final destination.
78. Crybaby Bridge – Urban Legend, Various American States
With a name like “Crybaby Bridge”, you’d be mistaken for thinking this tale revolves around a specific bridge in America, but much like our hitchhiking phantom friends, we can’t pin this tale down. The legend that accompanies the bridge vary, but the usual theme is that of an unwed or unhappy mother throwing her baby into the depths below. The resultant ghost and their phantom wails are reported to be either the crying children, or the mother, cursed to search for her children (just like our old friend, La Llorona). This particular piece of modern folklore can be seen in bridges in Kuntucky, Ohio, Maryland and Texas.
79. The White Desert, Farafra – Egypt
North of the town of Farafra, is a national park known as The White Desert. Named for its white stone and chalk rock formations, the desert itself is said to be haunted by none other than the pharaoh, Akhenaten, who attempted to reform Egyptian polytheism and replace it with monotheistic worship of Aten. This went down like a lead balloon and Akhenaten was said to be cursed by priests to wander the desert after his death. After his reign, the traditional forms of worship were reinstated and nomads, locals and tourists have reported a lone phantom roaming the desert ever since.
80. Pluckley Village, Kent, UK
Last but not least, we’ll finish our world wide ghost tour in the quaint little village of Pluckley, which holds the title of Most Haunted Village in England, according to the 1989 Guinness Book of Records. Between 12-16 phantoms are said to call Pluckley home, including “The Red Lady” who haunts the churchyard, a phantom monk and a highwayman who met his demise pinned against a tree with a sword. With location names such as Fright Corner and Screaming Woods, it’s been attracting ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts for decades, with no signs of stopping.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our covid-safe travel extravaganza. Maybe it’s given you some new locations to add to your traveling bucket list. Which stop has been your favourite? Have you come across any of these spooks in your own haunted travels?
Let me know on the usual social media channels or the comments below.