By Jacob Shelton
While most people know of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and even the Slenderman, an entire subset of lesser-known ghosts exist throughout the world, all dedicated to haunting this mortal coil. These forgotten paranormal entities and rare ghosts may not appear all that often in pop culture, but they still wait in the shadows nonetheless. Some of these creatures are pets who returned as ghosts, or shadows that wait until you’re cozy in bed before they crawl out from the corners of your room. Another forgotten ghost is a mysterious fog that pours from a European forest at night. These may be ghosts you never knew existed, but not knowing about them will not protect you from their mischief and wrath.
These forgotten ghosts offer an insight into the history and local legends of where they come from, and are as terrifying as they are fascinating. Perhaps you even grew up with a few of them, in which case you understand how scary they can be. For those of you just learning about these unique and strange supernatural beings, make sure you take note of how best to avoid them.
This ghost, whose name translates loosely to “slit-mouthed woman,” first appeared during Japan’s Edo period (between 1603 and 1868) and managed to grip the consciousness of Japan to this day. According to storytellers from the Edo period, the Kuchisake-onna is a ghost that presents itself as a woman with a scarf covering her face. Modern versions of the Kuchisake-onna story depict the ghost wearing a red surgical mask rather than a scarf. She approaches victims and asks them, “Am I pretty?”
If you answer “no,” she kills you immediately; if you answer “yes,” she removes the scarf and repeats her question. If you answer “yes” again, the kuchisake-onna will follow you home and murder you there. To escape being murdered by this angry ghost, throw candy or money in her face and run away. One may also give her an open-ended or confusing answer, forcing her to think while you make your escape.
These vengeful spirits from Japan are some of the most powerful and terrifying paranormal creatures ever reported on earth. According to reports, the onryō are not only capable of assaulting people, they can also cause natural disasters. So what makes an onryō? These spirits all began life as women who were wronged by their lover, and who return only to make them miserable. If you’ve seen The Ring or The Grudge then you know exactly what the onryō looks like; typically they wear a white robe, with faces covered in pasty white kabuki-esque makeup, and they have jet black hair streaming into their faces. When an onryō is created, its effects go far beyond just those who incurred their initial wrath. Onryō spirits enjoy tormenting their subjects, often by killing off those around them before finally attacking their targets.
Of all the lesser-known ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, shadow people definitely grew in infamy as more people claim to come across these mysterious beings. Reports of shadow people increased since 2001, when Native American elder Thunder Strikes appeared on Coast To Coast AM to discuss shadow people. The discussions of shadow people on Coast to Coast provided a language for people to discuss these types of hauntings; multiple listeners submitted drawings to the show, and the topic of shadow people remained a mainstay ever since. In 2015 a study on sleep paralysis and shadow people stated a part of the brain pulls shadow people from the depths of one’s subconscious in order to “clear out confusion.” Regardless of where they come from, shadow people still terrify whomever they come across, filling witnesses with dread and on occasion even physically assaulting them.
Woe to whomever comes across La Llorona, “the weeping woman” while making their way through Mexico. Many different theories attempt to explain why this weeping ghost kidnaps and drowns its victims, but the main story tells of a young woman who grew jealous of the attention her husband was receiving from other women. Enraged, she ended up throwing her children in a river; when she realized what she’d done the woman committed suicide shortly there afterwards. Now, the woman haunts the darkness of Mexico as La Llorona, a weeping ghost who kidnaps children who stay out after dark, drowning them so she may make them her own.
What would you do if you walked by the forest and saw a fog with a mind of its own growing from the trees? The Deogen phenomenon, de ogen translating to “the eyes,” reportedly happened to people who lived near the Sonian Forest in Belgium in the early ’30s. According to De Kinderen van Het Bezeten Bos, or “Children of the Haunted Forest,” the haunting began after local nuns discovered the charred remains of a group of murdered children.
People who witness Deogen claim to see a dense fog escape from the forest, often times appearing in colors like green or gray. In the midst of the fog, mysterious, child-like figures can be seen rushing through it. Drivers sometimes report the imprints of hands on the windows of their cars. It’s possible that the ghostly fog, and the book that brought it to life don’t exist, but do you really want to take that chance the next time you’re in Belgium?
The Bell Witch
Spooky tales from the South tell of ghosts, witches, and demons haunting their pitch black fields, but the story of the Bell Witch still sends shivers down the spine of anyone who knows of it. In the early 1800s a farmer named John Bell and his family fell victim to a mysterious creature who used everything in the paranormal handbook to completely ruin their lives. The haunting began, as many do, with a series of knocks happening around their home. From there the activity became more harrowing; blankets yanked from beds, hair pulled, and eventually an unseen force assaulted the Bell children. Then the entity began speaking to the family, revealing “herself” to be Kate Batts, a neighbor of the Bells who disagreed with them over the sale of slaves. After John Bell began suffering a mysterious illness, Batts allowed him no rest until he died; even then she made a point of causing a scene at his funeral too.
After that the Bell Witch began to make the rounds in Robertson County, Tennessee and haunt whomever it felt deserved it. According to locals, terrifying happenings are still going on in the area, so take a trip down to Adams, Tennessee if you dare.
In the lore of the Navajo people it’s believed the last breath a person takes contains everything bad about them and everything that kept them from becoming one with the universe. The final expulsion of negative energy creates a malicious spirit called a chindi. To ensure your dying self will not create a chindi, one must pass away in an open area like a field or a desert so the chindi may dissipate. For those without that luxury, your family must burn all of your belongings and never say your name again. Worst case scenario: if you or a loved one passes away inside a house, the house will be haunted forever. If you ever been drive through the desert and come across a dust devil, then you’ve encountered a chindi, and that’s about as close as you want to come to one unless you’re aching to be infected with a “ghost sickness.”
The weeping ghost known as “Old Book,” haunts the grounds of the Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois. This mental institution operating from 1902 to 1973 plays host to a series of different hauntings, but none are as apparent as the cries of Old Book. Before his death, Old Book lived as a patient in the hospital who also worked as a grave digger; because no one knew his real name he was checked in under the pseudonym “A. Bookbinder.” Supposedly before being sent to the mental institution he worked in the world of bookbinding, and at one point became so overwhelmed with stress it rendered mute.
The story goes that Old Book attended every funeral and lean against an elm tree where he would cry, even if he hadn’t known the person in life. When he died in 1910 hundreds of people attended his funeral. As pallbearers prepared to lower his casket into his grave, it bounced up and into the grave, knocking the pallbearers down. The man in charge of the institution, Dr. Zeller, wrote in his journal after the casket fell everyone who hadn’t fled the harrowing sight could hear someone crying against an old elm tree. “Every man and woman stood transfixed, for there, just as had always been the case, stood Old Book, weeping and moaning with an earnestness that out-rivaled anything he had ever shown before. We could not be mistaken. It was the same Old Book.”
If you visit the grounds of the now abandoned hospital make sure you listen carefully, you may hear the cries of Old Book.
Unless you read up on Germanic mythology, you likely never hear of the Kobold outside of a game of Dungeons & Dragons. This creatures isn’t a ghost nor a demon, but instead something rarely ever seen in American paranormal mythology – a sprite. Dating all the way back to ancient Greece as creatures associated with Dionysus, these little European creatures appear almost anywhere such houses, mines, and even ships. But their “appearance” are difficult to confirm, as the sprites usually perform tasks under invisibility. While many Kobolds act as benevolent helpers, some possess more mischievous personalities, especially if you wrong them. One tale tells of a Kobold who tore a boy apart and proceeded to cook him all because the boy offended the sprit.. Scholars believe that these creatures first came about in the 13th century, and that they’re where the idea of a gobbling originated.
Despite the myriad theories of what ghosts are (multi-dimensional creatures, energy beings that weren’t able to cross over to the afterlife, etc.), general consensus agrees that ghosts are the spirits of something that was once alive. Thus, it makes sense both pets and feral animals run the risk of having their spirits trapped on the mortal coil. According to Dale Kaczmarek, president of the Ghost Research Society, the most widely seen animal spirits are “dogs, cats, and horses in that order respectively.” He theorizes only intelligent creatures possess the capability to return to life as a ghost, an explanation as to why there are no phantom mosquitos. And rather than returning because they suffered a traumatic death, Kaczmarek believes an animal may return as a spirit due to their owner’s intense grief.