The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz — visual trick, ancient magic, or aliens?

When I next take a trip to California, there’s somewhere I HAVE to go. It’s a place in the redwood forests of Santa Cruz that has been baffling and astonishing tourists for decades. A place where the laws of gravity and physics don’t apply…

Behold, the Mystery Spot. It was first discovered in 1939 by George Prather. When climbing a steep hill on the site, his compass started jittering and he felt dizzy, light-headed and top-heavy, as if something was trying to force him off the hill.

Realising he was onto something, Prather purchased the site and decided to build a house on it, which opened to the public in 1940 and was named a historical landmark in 2014.

What’s so weird about Prather’s enigmatic little cabin in the woods? Well, in it, balls roll uphill. Chairs cling to walls without support. Water flows in the wrong direction. People can hang off walls, lean backwards off stairs, or lean forwards so far they can’t see their toes — all without falling over. Even the trees around the house defy gravity, growing at bizarre angles.

The cabin is referred to a “gravity house” on a “gravity hill” or “magnetic hill” (of which there are a number of others). The website for the Mystery Spot calls it a “gravitational anomaly” with “puzzling variations of gravity, perspective and height”.

Insane. Insane, but very real. Question is, what’s causing it?

Just a visual trick?

For centuries gravity hills have bewildered scientists and their half-baked theories left considerable room for doubt and mystery. However, scientists now seem to agree that the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (and others throughout the world) are optical illusions. Gravity and physics do not behave differently at the Mystery Spot. We just think they do. It’s all to do with the way our brains orient themselves, and the way they use horizontal and vertical cues to establish up and down. When we can’t see the earth’s horizon, we take those cues from our immediate context.

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Secret snake discovered in Elizabeth I painting – what was she hiding?

In 2010, scientists investigating a 400-year-old portrait of Queen Elizabeth I made a very curious discovery — a hidden snake in the queen’s hand…

The mysterious painting was created in the late 1580s or early 1590s by an unknown artist. In it, Elizabeth I is depicted in a magnificent, jewel-laden gown with a faint smile and a small posy of flowers in her hand, a conventional symbol of virginity and virtue. The painting’s deterioration over time has caused an image beneath the posy to resurface, that of a dark-coloured snake coiled around the queen’s fingers.

Scientists believe that the artist originally painted Elizabeth holding a snake, then painted over it shortly afterwards with the posy. Since nobody knows who the artist was or what the circumstances surrounding the painting were, we can’t be sure what their motivations were for drawing the snake, or for removing it.

What we do know is that snakes and serpents were highly ambiguous in their symbolism. Sometimes they were used as a symbol of wisdom, prudence and good judgment, all good traits for a queen. However, in Christian iconography, their symbolism was a lot darker. Christians associated snakes with evil, original sin and Satan himself, and Elizabeth I was a devout Protestant.

What does this say about how the artist viewed Elizabeth? If they intended to paint her with a symbol of the Devil in her hand, did they see her as evil? As a sinner? As hiding something?

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The Broad Haven school kids who spotted a UFO

In 1977, aliens touched down in the seaside resort of Broad Haven, Wales, for a nose around. It led to the area being dubbed the Broad Haven Triangle. The most famous was a sighting by 14 schoolchildren…

It was a cold day in February when the children of Broad Haven Primary School saw a UFO land in the playing field next to their school during lunchtime. It was torpedo-shaped, shiny grey, and had an upper dome with a blinking red light. Some of the kids saw a silver-clad spaceman emerge from the craft.

Convinced they were telling porkies, headmaster Ralph Llewellyn asked the 14 children to draw what they’d seen under exam conditions so there could be no conferring. He was astonished by how similar their drawings were.

The children proceeded to sign a petition demanding a police investigation into what they saw.

The children, now in their 50s, have not wavered from their original accounts in all the years since. One of the kids, David Davies, aged 10 at the time, said a few years ago:

“The object was pearlescent silvery-grey, approximately 40ft long, torpedo/cigar-shaped with an upper domed section that covered the central third of the vehicle and which was topped with a red pulsating light. It popped up and then went back behind a tree. The sighting, despite only lasting a few seconds, is burned on my memory like a photograph. I’ve spent my entire life and countless thousands of pounds trying to find answers about what we saw.”

A spate of further local sightings followed. A few days later, a teacher and three dinner ladies saw the same UFO. One of them reported seeing a “creature” making its way into the craft.

Two months later, Rosa Granville, owner of the Haven Fort Hotel, was woken at 2.30am by a series of strange noises and lights. She reportedly saw an “upside-down saucer” next to the hotel, surrounded by multicoloured flames, and two “faceless humanoid” creatures with pointed heads emerging from the flames.

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“If anything happens to me, investigate.” British UFO expert Max Spiers sent this creepy warning, days before his death

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An ever-deepening mystery surrounds the death of ufologist and conspiracy theorist Max Spiers, who was found dead while preparing to expose politicians and celebrities linked to a global conspiracy…

In July 2016, a 39-year-old UFO researcher, conspiracy theorist and father of two, Max Spiers, was found dead on a friend’s sofa in Warsaw, Poland. Originally from Canterbury, England, Spiers was due to speak at a conference in Warsaw that month, where it’s believed he was set to lift the lid on a global black magic conspiracy and a paedophile ring inside the US Army.

Just days before his death, Spiers sent a text to his mother, Vanessa Bates, saying, “Your boy’s in trouble. If anything happens to me, investigate.”

His mother, an English teacher, told newspapers, “I think Max had been digging in some dark places and I fear somebody wanted him dead.”

Polish authorities concluded that Spiers had died from natural causes, despite no post-mortem examination being carried out. After Spiers’ body was returned to the UK, British doctors at Margate QUQM Hospital in Kent did a post-mortem but were still unable to determine how he died. To this day, Spiers’ cause of death remains a mystery.

However, an inquest into Spiers’ death, which opened at Canterbury Coroners’ Court in December 2016, has added some disturbing clues to the mix. The inquest is ongoing, but it’s already been revealed that Spiers was puking up a mysterious black liquid shortly before his death. (Makes me think of the black oil—that nasty alien virus in The X Files!)

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“Mum, I’m still buried there.” Astonishing 9/11 reincarnation stories about children who claim they were killed at the WTC

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Several young children have recently claimed that they were there at the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001, when terrorists rammed two passenger planes into the two tallest buildings in New York City. How can that be?

When Rachel Nolan’s son, Thomas, was 3 years old, he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied, “I don’t just want to be a firefighter. I have always been and already am a firefighter.”

This surprised and confused his family, but Thomas then went on to say, “I used to get up in the morning, go to work, and in the evenings I would come home and take off my fire proximity suit.”

Strange. Thomas also mentioned having to use an axe to check if there was fire behind the walls, and having to flee if the site was too dangerous. Though perplexed by the level of detail in his answers, Rachel figured Thomas’s ramblings were just the product of a child’s imagination. Just fantasy. However, when Thomas saw a picture of the World Trade Centre in a magazine, he said:

“The bad men burnt these buildings, and people had to jump, and I couldn’t help. There were people waiting for firefighters, waiting for me, but I could not get there to help them.”

Thomas also gave details of the model of the trucks used by the firefighters in New York that day, a Ford Johnson R8. Rachel concluded that her son was recalling a past life, that he was the reincarnation of a firefighter who died on 9/11.

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Santa Claus’s body is leaking mystery bone juice

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Forget stockings and presents and candy canes this Christmas. What about a bottle of bone discharge from the body of the “right jolly old elf” himself?

The miracle of manna, it’s called. Manna is the name of the sweet-smelling liquid supposedly coming out of the bones of Saint Nicholas, the gift-giving, 4th-century Greek bishop on whom the legend of Christmas Eve’s busiest man is based. It’s a liquid that apparently has robust healing powers. Every May 9th, the “Santa Manna” is removed by priests from St Nick’s tomb at the Basilica of St Nicholas in Bari, put in glass bottles and sold to pilgrims. It is then consumed as a drink or poured over an injured body part.

Firstly, eww. Secondly, for real?

The original mince pie scoffer earned a reputation in the 4th century for secret gift-giving. Legend has it that he famously helped a poor man with three daughters, who couldn’t afford a dowry for them to get married. Nicholas delivered 3 bags of gold coins to the poor man by dropping them down the chimney (so that he couldn’t be seen). One of the daughters had just washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, so the bags of coins ended up falling in the stockings.

Mmmm. Sounds familiar.

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Witches, phantom dogs and pitchfork killers… Welcome to Meon Hill

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This week I’m getting in the spirit of Halloween by investigating the mysterious Meon Hill, on the edge of the Cotswolds in Warwickshire. It’s a place of Satanic legends, phantom black dog sightings, alleged witches and shadowy pitchfork-wielding killers. Anyone fancy pitching a tent there on October 31st?

Meon Hill is nestled between the sleepy Cotswold villages of Mickleton, Upper Quinton and Lower Quinton. An 8th century legend says that it was actually formed by the Devil. Frustrated by the growth of Christianity, the Devil chucked a large clod of earth at the recently built Evesham Abbey, intending to destroy it. However, the bishop spotted him and prayed for the clod of earth to miss its target. It did, landing and forming Meon Hill.

Another legend from Celtic Welsh folklore says that Meon Hill is haunted by the phantom dogs of Arawn, king of the ‘otherworld’. For centuries, numerous sightings of stray black dogs have been reported in the area. Black dogs are said to be nocturnal apparitions, bringers of death and agents of the Devil (think the Rottweilers guarding Antichrist Damien Thorn in The Omen).

But it’s what happened on 14th February 1945 — Valentine’s Day of all days—that really put Meon Hill on the map. This is when 74-year-old Lower Quinton farm labourer Charles Walton was murdered on its slopes.

Walton’s murder was brutal, gruesome and unusual. He was killed with his own instruments. His head was smashed in with his walking stick. His throat was cut with the trouncing hook he’d been using to trim hedges, which was found buried in his neck. And he was impaled and pinned to the ground with his own pitchfork.

There was a conspicuous further detail: a cross-shaped symbol was carved into his chest.

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Were the crew of the Mary Celeste swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle?

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The vanishing crew of the Mary Celeste is one of the biggest maritime mysteries in history. The Bermuda Triangle’s been blamed before, but is usually dismissed because the ship’s route didn’t pass anywhere near it. Could it be that whatever’s been swallowing ships and planes in the Triangle… moves?

On November 7th 1872, the cargo ship Mary Celeste set sail from New York City to Genoa, Italy, carrying 1701 barrels of raw commercial alcohol. The captain was 37-year-old Benjamin Briggs. His wife Sarah and 2-year-old daughter Sophia were with him, along with a crew of 7, making a total of 10 people on board.

On December 4th 1872, the Mary Celeste was discovered adrift near the coast of Portugal by the British Empire vessel Dei Gratia. It was still under sail, but not a single soul was on board.

The reason this empty ‘ghost ship’ has become so famous is that there were no real clues as to where the crew had gone and why. The ship was still stocked with 6 months’ worth of food and water. The cargo of alcohol was intact (but for a handful of barrels that were thought to have leaked). And everybody’s personal belongings, including valuables, were undisturbed.

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