- Animal slaughter
- Descriptions of Death
The Podcast About the Unknown
- Animal slaughter
- Descriptions of Death
Somewhere in Maritza Gulin’s basement, there’s a typewritten notebook that belonged to her father, Reynaldo. The notebook contains essential advice and warnings to Reynaldo, his wife Flora, and their five children.
- Mental Illness
- Animal Sacrifice
In his younger life, Reynaldo’s atheism was strong and biting. But chronic migraines would often flatten him for days at a time. A stranger approached Reynaldo one day on the subway to tell him that he’d always suffer until he got right with God.
Reynaldo subsequently became an adherent to two related Afro-Cuban* religions: Palo Mayombe and Santeria. Palo focusses on veneration of spirits of the dead and of the earth. Santeria focusses on a pantheon of demigods called “Orishas”, who are usually represented by equivalent Catholic saints.
The notebook in Maritza’s basement is notable for its specificity. When she recently rediscovered it, she found warnings for her father against eating beans, sleeping with all the lights off, a requirement for white pajamas, a prohibition on horseback riding. Reynaldo followed these rules. He believed in fate, and was pretty accurate at predicting the time of his ultimate death from old age.
Michelle Santana is a childhood friend of Maritza’s. She’s a psychic medium who’s not been formally initiated into Santeria, but she often consults the Orishas and the dead while working with her clients. She’s done a number of readings with Maritza. Michelle, too, believes in fate, saying that, cruel as it seems, some people are just destined live bad lives, die young, and nothing can be done to change that.
Maritza’s youngest sister, Vanessa, was born when Maritza was already an adult, so Maritza helped take care of her youngest sister. Vanessa experienced severe depression, especially after the birth of her first child. She committed suicide.
After her Vanessa’s death, Maritza and her mother Flora lost their faith. They asked: if the future’s written, why weren’t they warned? Why weren’t they told either in the notebook or during their regular psychic readings. Flora says she’s mad at God. Maritza says she no longer believes in destiny.
Despite this, Maritza still treads lightly around some of her father’s belongings. Some of this is due to respect for her father’s desires, and some of it is based on an abundance of caution. She recently deconsecrated a black metal cauldron that her father used in ceremonies. Michelle told her to bury it in her backyard or throw it in a river. Marita did the former. Inside, she found a toy revolver, a pair of ram’s horns, railroad spikes, and other small items.
Santeria’s practice of live animal sacrifice wound up in the US Supreme Court in the early 90’s as Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, in which a city in Florida passed an ordinance banning the practice of killing animals “in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption”. The court ruled unanimously that this ordinance was unconstitutional, citing its attempt to restrict religious practice.
Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.
*Today, Santeria and Palo are practiced across much of the Caribbean, especially Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. Other areas of Caribbean diaspora like Florida, New York and New Jersey also have significant populations of believers. However, solid numbers of followers are hard to estimate due to the religion’s decentralization, which also contributes to the varying beliefs across adherents of different origins. If you practice or used to practice Santeria/Palo/Ifa, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Tweet at us @HBMpodcast.
There’s currently an invisible, supernatural pandemic affecting the world, or so claims HBM host Jeff Emtman. What else could explain the wide-ranging malaise of our current times? He thinks that the most logical conclusion is that astral energy vampires are draining humans of their lifeforce en masse. Jeff’s never encountered one of these beasts, but that’s probably because he’s developed an elaborate spell to trap them in an alternate timeline. In this video episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff shares his special spell of repulsion.
- Stylized blood (video)
- Flashing images (video)
A note from Jeff on the creation of this episode:
I spent my teenage years listening to Coast To Coast AM each night from 10PM until I fell asleep. It’s a 4 hour nightly show about the supernatural that exists in a world of increased potential for the unusual. Guests, callers and hosts are so densely packed with stories of the strange that eventually what used to seem ludicrous becomes possible, and what used to seem possible seems likely.
Like many, I was deeply saddened to hear of Art Bell’s recent death. Bell was the original host of Coast To Coast. While I grew up in the George Noory era, Bell would still host most weekends.
But on further reflection of my years dedicated to this program, I came away conflicted. It is truly an amazing feeling to have one’s world blown open on a nightly basis by some new ‘truth’ revealed, it’s also a format that often peddles in fear of the unknown. It’s a fear that I internalized, hard. Now nearing 30, I’ve likely cumulative years of my life in fear of evils that don’t actually exist. And of the evils that do exist, I fall into nearly every demographic group that statistically protects me from them.
If I were a sociologist, I’d study whether there’s inverse correlation between the amount of generalized fear a person feels and how much danger that they actually live in. I have a hypothesis about misplaced fears and their relationship to the supernatural, but I am no sociologist.
So in this episode, I take a fanciful view on the enemies of the astral plane. The astral plane is a favorite location of Coast To Coast, probably because its inherent indefinability means that just about anything goes. But with that being said, please don’t bathe in blood, or electrocute yourself.
Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton. Thank you to Brian Emtman and Ariana Nedelman for loaning the camera and lenses.
This episode features illustrations by Fortunio Liceti from the 17th century. Fortunio did not believe his subjects to be hideous, as he considered deformity to be the intersection of nature and art.
Tatianna Zichella is the sideshow performer also known as The Amazing Mazi Keen*. Sometimes, Amazing Mazi sticks swords down her throat and into her stomach juices. Sometimes she suspends her body from hooks in her skin. And sometimes she asks people to make a wish, write it on a piece of paper, and staple it to a fleshy part of her body. “Like a human wish tree!” she tells producer Bethany Denton, as she hands her a staple gun.
“I used to think you were brilliant” Evan Williamson’s dad wrote to him in a letter. Evan was in treatment for chemical dependency at the time. His father asked if they could meet in Alaska to continue a family tradition of fathers and sons who fished together.
The Alaskan waters were teeming, and two spent entire days ending lives together. Evan’s dad, amid all the death, explained that he too was dying.
Music: The Black Spot
Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.