Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM106: Beautiful Stories about Dead Animals (part 2)

👉 Listen to Part 1 👈

This is a special two-part episode, in which Kryssanne Adams describes the many times where she’s seen death or inflicted it upon animals.  Soon, this will turn into a book, which will be available to purchase in our store.

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Content Note:

- Animal slaughter
- Descriptions of Death

Kryssanne is a writer in Bellingham, Washington, where she also helps run the Bellingham Alternative Library, sings in a Threshold Choir, and works at a museum.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.

Music: The Black Spot ||| Serocell

Kryssanne Adams. Photo by Jeff Emtman

Kryssanne Adams. Photo by Jeff Emtman

HBM103: Fate's Notebook

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.

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Content Note:

- Suicide
- Mental Illness
- Animal Sacrifice
- Language

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.

A dream about flamingos avoiding deep water, as interpreted by Reynaldo. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

A dream about flamingos avoiding deep water, as interpreted by Reynaldo. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

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.

Reynaldo Gulin at his funeral, wearing the clothes he wore on the day he was initiated into Santeria. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

Reynaldo Gulin at his funeral, wearing the clothes he wore on the day he was initiated into Santeria. (Photo by Maritza Gulin)

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.

Music: Circling Lights | | | The Black Spot | | | Serocell

*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.

If you are feeling suicidal, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help in the USA (phone: 1-800-273-8255). Outside the USA, consult Suicide.org’s list of hotlines. If you’re experiencing postpartum depression, Postpartum Support International has links to local organizations that can help you.

HBM089: Human Wish Tree

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.

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Content Note:

- Language

Music: Lucky Dragons

* This name is derived from Mazikeen, a comic book character from the Sandman series, who (in turn) derives her name from the Jewish version of the Arabian jinn or genii.

A post shared by Mazi Keen (@theamazingmazi) on

HBM070: The Way The Blood Flows

“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.  

The boat chartered by Evan and his father.

Some of the fish Evan and his father caught in Alaska.

The Way The Blood Flows a short story written and read by Evan Williamson, who currently makes videos and music with his wife Sidra as they travel the world.  Their series is called Sid and Evan Leave America.  You can follow them on YouTube and Facebook.

Music: The Black Spot

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. 

Here's some other news: Nick and Jeff have just published another podcast project: The Outer Reach: Stories From Beyond a sci-fi anthology from Howl.FM.  Give a listen!