I enjoyed reading “10 Horrifying Haunts,” from November issue of “BBC History Revealed” on my Kindle, which inspired me to share with my fellow readers the story of a “legally” haunted house here in the U.S. Compared to the famed haunted castles, pubs, or inns with colorful histories in the U.K, it might be deemed rather commonplace, but it is the real McCoy in the supernatural phenomena devoid of hoaxes and mass media hysteria. It’s so spellbinding and real into the bargain that it’s worth the noting.
It’s the house built circa 1890 that sits right on the Hudson River in Nyack, New York. It had been used as both a boarding house and a family residence before one woman by the name of Helen Ackley moved in with her family, who soon realized that the house was also inhibited by the restless poltergeists of the supposedly Revolutionary War era. The Ackley family and the spirits began their tacitly mutual ghostly cohabitation until late 1980s when a young Yuppie couple from the New York City bought the house, not being aware of the haunted history of the house because neither owner Helen Ackley nor her real estate broker revealed the haunting to buyer Jeffrey Stambovsky before and at the time of a sale of the house. The aftermath of purchasing the house was all over but the shouting; the new Stambovsky family could not cope with the daily disturbances of poltergeist activities and wanted to rescind the contract with the former owner, who failed to inform them of such historicity of the house. Hence, the matter was eventually brought to the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, which rescinded the contract, ruling that a seller was duly to let a buyer aware of all the information about the house at sale resulting in a proverbial case law entitled “Stambovsky v. Ackley”, aka the “Ghostbuster Ruling”.
Bizarre or preposterous even the situation might seem, it was certainly a paramount case of a haunted house that a court of law, the authority of Reason and Judgment, officially declared it to be. The house with a spooky and celebrated litigious history still stands still at the same place but with a series of new residents always giving way to the old spectral residents. The story of the famed haunted Nyack house sends the chill down my spine because it even persuaded a solemn court of law to accept the phantasmal existence in this otherwise lovely old house in the ordinary landscape of everyday life that could be in my town and your town. By the way, the house is currently on the market. The address is: 1 Laveta Pl, Nyack, NY 10960.
The art of memory has been a popular subject for occultism and academicism throughout the centuries. The subject deals with our incredibly flexible human intelligence with its general multipurpose learning strategies that can work wonders if the doors of imagination are opened to the mystery of the knowledge without constraints of religiosity and fears of the unknown territories of human possibilities. Of the intellectual trailblazers of the craft of memory, none other than the figure of Giordano Bruno stood out blazingly even at the burning stake as an accused wizard. For it was akin to a witchcraft of perfect knowledge as expounded in his Thirty Seals & the Seal of Seals, the book banned by the Church in fear of losing the faithful to the Power of Knowledge.
The book illustrates a set of “basic” rules that reads more like Euclid’s Elements or Pythagorean Theorem, which means it is not written for general readers. This is because the book was part of a job application for a teaching post at the Oxford in the Elizabethan England, demonstrating his admirable erudition, superb command of the English language as a foreigner, and naked flattery to the academics at the university. Bruno got a few lecturing opportunities at the Oxford, but his cerebral mind devoid of wit in addition to his short, unprepossessing appearance was regarded as far-fetched and unfavorable to the attainment of the sought-after position at the Oxford. In fact, this book does not provide the reader with special spells for obtaining perfect memory but gives the method of encoding letters or syllables of the name of the thing into a set of predetermined images. It is magic in the sense that if this method is perfected, it works wonders. It’s a psychological mind game, the magic of psychology per se.
This magical book, this banned book will betray anyone who expects it to be something of magical Rosetta Stone for obtaining the secrets of perfect or better memorization. But that doesn’t mean the book is entirely abstruse to enjoy; the idea of the intellectual trinity comprised of Pallas Athena (The Senses), Vulcan (Imaginations), and Mars (Judgment/Reason), all of whom are overseen by Jove (the Soul) is quite intriguing and related to Socrates’s idea of reasoning. As a matter of fact, this book is not so much an esoteric book as deeply psychological literature that boasts Bruno’s indomitable intelligence and recalcitrant individualism that stigmatized him as a renegade. Maybe that’s the reason this illustrious intellect was burned at the stake as a dangerous pagan.
Witchcraft as popular belief system may sound anachronistic, if not extinct, in our age of the Internet, Satellite TVs, and planned colonization of the Moon, in the same way that people in Renaissance regarded the Medieval times culturally backward and religiously superstitious. Yet, it has survived the leaps of time and waves of persecution, withstanding like a flickering candlelight in hours of stormy dark nights and remains in modern landscapes of buildings, cars, airplanes, and people with mobile phones on their hands.
Thomas Waters in his Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times tells us how this ancient belief system of faith-based healing at its lightest and of maleficent bewitching at its darkest has kept its vitality from the rural areas of provinces to the bustling streets of cities in Great Britain throughout the centuries based on his extensive research of historical documents and scholarly analysis on the uncanny but very real phenomena that grips your attention on every page of this fascinating book.
If you are keen on historical facts and anthropological evidence of human nature in relation to the ancient esoteric knowledge that looks so appealing and tempting, this is an excellent book.