A Brief History of a Satanic Armchair

TheDevilsChair

La sillon del Diablo, or “The Devil’s Armchair,” is a cursed chair that’s said to kill anybody who sits in it. 

The Museo de Valladolid is a museum in the Spanish city of Valladolid that divides its collection into two sections, archaeology and fine arts. Among the museum’s collection, which spans the history of the city, you can find Roman coins, Renaissance-era paintings, and a 16th century chair associated with the Devil. “The Devil’s Armchair,” as this wicked piece of furniture is known, is said to be cursed.

According to legend, the chair’s original owner was Andres de Proaza, a 22-year-old student of Portuguese (some say Jewish) heritage. In 1550, Proaza was studying at the University of Valladolid’s Faculty of Medicine. He was enrolled in Spain’s first ever anatomy course, which was taught by Alfonso Rodriguez de Guevara, a renown physician who’d just come back from studying the subject in Italy.

For a subject that was just formally introduced to Spain, Proaza had an unusually deep understanding of anatomy. Everybody was impressed with his knowledge, and he was considered Guevara’s best pupil. His neighbors, however, were more scared than fascinated by the young man.

At night, they heard crying and moaning coming from Proaza’s house, and the stream behind his home was sometimes soaked with blood. Soon, a rumor spread that the promising anatomist was practicing necromancy. When a 9-year-old boy disappeared in the city, Proaza’s neighbors only grew more suspicious. They contacted the authorities to search Proaza’s house.

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The Kabukichou Love Hotel Murders

Kabukicho

Between March and June 1981, Tokyo’s red-light district was the sight of three unsolved murders, all of which occurred in love hotels.

Back in the 1980s, Akina Nakamori was one of the biggest pop stars in Japan. Compared to the other idol giant of the time, sweet goody two-shoes Seiko Matsuda, Nakamori sang gloomy songs about being a rebel and getting your heart broken. Recently, while exploring Nakamori’s back catalog, I heard a pretty catchy song called Shoujo A.

The title of the song literally means “Girl A,” but as one translator rendered it, it might better be understood in English as “Jane Doe.” In the Japanese media, for the sake of anonymity, names might sometimes be given as vague pseudonyms like Mr. A, Victim B, or Housewife C. In Nakamori’s song, the 17-year-old narrator calls herself Shoujo A, a nobody who isn’t special and can be found anywhere.

Now legend has it that Shoujo A was inspired by a series of unsolved murders in Tokyo’s infamous red-light district, Kabukichou. These murders, which all might have been committed by the same man, happened a year before the song’s release. The third victim was known as Shoujo A, and like the narrator of the Nakamori hit, was only 17-years-old.

Regardless of whether this is true or not, the story behind the rumor is an interesting one. Between March and June 1981, three women were killed in different love hotels in Kabukichou. The first body was found on the morning of March 20. The victim, Hostess A, had checked into the room with a young man the night before.

When it was coming time for check-out, the room didn’t answer the hotel’s calls. An employee sent to go check the room found Hostess A dead and alone. The cause of death was strangulation. A business card, belonging to Hostess A, identified her as a 33-year-old hostess at a local cabaret.

The name on the card, however, turned out to be a fake one.

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Androids Amok in Argentina

EugenioDouglas

In 1963, Eugenio Douglas was allegedly attacked by a UFO and chased by robot-like aliens in Argentina.

On October 12, 1963, in the middle of a terrible storm around 3 AM, Mateo Manocchio and his wife, children, and sister were driving home from a visit to the countryside in Monte Maiz, Argentina. Mateo’s brother, Ricardo, was following the family in a separate car. (Sounds like the opening scene of a horror movie, I know.)

While passing along a cemetery road, the Manocchios noticed a strong beam of white light shining behind them. The family figured it came from a̶ ̶g̶h̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ Ricardo’s headlights, but the light suddenly went out by the time they reached the entrance of Monte Maiz. Mateo, worried, turned the car around to look for his brother.

After backtracking, the Manocchios found Uncle Ricardo perfectly fine. He’d fallen behind, was all. But where did the white light come from? The family wasn’t sure. Ricardo, in fact, had no idea what they were talking about. He hadn’t seen any strange light. The Manocchios shrugged their shoulders and continued on.

Coming into town, however, things only got weirder. Monte Maiz had lost its power and the lights were out. Confused citizens found a hysterical, blanket-wrapped man, running around in the rain, waving a revolver and firing shots. The gunman begged for help, so some presumably terrified bystanders redirected him to the police. 

The man’s name was Eugenio Douglas. He was a 48-year-old truck driver from the city of Venado Tuerto, and he had a perfectly good explanation for why he was publicly shooting and waving his gun like a maniac: He’d been chased by robots and a UFO. 

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Bipedal Octopus Dwarves from Beyond the Stars

Uniden Digital Camera

Drawings by Yoshihiro Fujiwara of the aliens he saw in 1974.

Part of the fun in reading UFO stories, at least for me, is the descriptions of the aliens themselves. Outside of the usual grays and reptilians, I’ve heard stories of aliens who resemble robots, praying mantises, elves, demons, and perhaps freakiest of all, Scandinavians. When there are pictures of the weirder ones available, I save them to a folder on my computer. Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of adding a new species to my collection: bipedal octopus dwarves.

The fine creatures you see above come to us from The Nikoro Incident, a series of encounters that took place in Japan in April 1974. According to an article from a contemporary ufology magazine, Yoshihiro Fujiwara was a 28-year-old man who lived in Kitami, a city in Hokkaido. On April 6, 1974, at 3 AM, Fujiwara’s sleep was disturbed by a sound in his genkan, the traditional entryway in a Japanese home.

When Fujiwara went to investigate the sound, he found that his visitor was a three foot tall alien. Though he tried to make a run for it, Fujiwara was suddenly whisked off his feet and levitated to an orange-colored UFO hovering over a field outside.

Once he got to the UFO, Fujiwara was able to jump off and run to a neighbor’s house for help. Nothing out of the ordinary happened again until the evening, when Fujiwara developed psychic abilities. He now had the awe-inspiring power of bending spoons, and he could also talk to the aliens he saw earlier by telepathy. After two days, and what had to have been a countless number of mind-texts, the aliens told Fujiwara that they wanted to meet again.

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Zenhachi’s Unhappy Grandson: A Story of Reincarnation from 19th Century Japan

 

Bakin

Portrait of Kyokutei Bakin, the author of Rabbit Garden Tales.

Rabbit Garden Tales is a collection of strange stories gathered by the Edo-era Japanese novelist Kyokutei Bakin. The collection includes “true” accounts of supernatural stories involving ghosts and monsters, but it also contains some more… I guess we could say “realistic” material, like that of an eight-year-old girl who gave birth in a village in what is now Ibaraki Prefecture.

Bakin himself had heard these stories from the Rabbit Garden Society, a group of eleven other writers he’d met with during some monthly meetings in 1825. The following story, a tale about reincarnation, was said to have happened in the fourth month of the second year of the Bunsei era, or April 1819 for those of us who don’t measure time in Japanese imperial reigns.

Zenhachi was a retired picture framer from Edo (Tokyo) who loved to travel. During one of his trips, while walking on a road away from Osaka, Zenhachi saw a teenage girl about 15 or 16-years-old in his path. The girl was traveling alone, and suddenly fainted and collapsed when she passed by Zenhachi.

The wandering picture framer helped the girl, and after she came to, asked her what she was doing all alone. The girl explained that she’d run away from an employer that morning, and was so exhausted from her escape that she couldn’t help but collapse. So Zenhachi accompanied the girl back to her house in what is now the city of Tsu, and her family was so grateful for Zenhachi’s help that they invited him to stay with them for a while.

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The Airline Stewardess who Starved Herself to Death for Aliens

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A picture of Gloria Lee from her first book, “Why We Are Here.”

In September 1953, 28-year-old Gloria Lee began to hear a strange voice in her head. Fortunately, the voice didn’t claim to be a manifestation of schizophrenia, but a telepathic communication from Jupiter by an alien named J.W. (The Jovians were so utterly advanced that they had no use for names or vocal cords.) Lee, an airline stewardess who had a great interest in UFOs, was understandably thrilled with her psychic visitor. She’d heard stories from pilots and other stewardesses about flying saucers, but in her five years of experience had never actually seen one herself.

Imagine Lee’s disappointment, then, when J.W. refused to physically show himself to her. “Frankly,” she wrote in her first book, I was just plain disgusted J.W. didn’t “drop in for a visit” if he was who he said he was.” For months, Lee decided to ignore J.W., until one day she was hanging laundry outside her home in Westchester, California and suddenly heard a voice telling her to look up.

Not sure what to expect, Lee followed the command, and spotted a giant UFO flying northward. After hearing there were other witnesses who saw the object in near-by Redondo Beach, Lee’s faith was restored, and she took up talking to J.W. again. To further develop her powers, Lee also attended a “psychic development” class. Lee never claimed to have physically met or seen J.W., but a classmate did once sketch his picture after supposedly seeing him stand behind Lee in class.

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A Warning Unheeded: A Victorian Account of Precognitive Dreams

unknown artist; Reverend Frederick George Lee (1832-1902)

Painting of Frederick George Lee.

Today’s article is an account from Frederick George Lee’s 1885 “Glimpses in the Twilight: Being Various Notes, Records, and Examples of the Supernatural.” Lee was an English priest who believed in ghosts and wrote several books about the supernatural. He recorded this story, verbatim,  from the member of a Buckinghamshire family called Hickman. Unfortunately, the narrator gives us no date, but I assume it happened in the earlier part of the century. 

My grandfather had a favourite daughter. She was his youngest child, had been born about ten years after the birth of his youngest son, and to her he was devotedly attached. The loss of his wife when his youngest daughter was about sixteen years of age, seemed to deepen and strengthen the affectionate attachment in question.

He himself is said to have been a very hard-headed, unromantic, anti-sentimental man, who had been largely influenced by the Scotch philosophers of the last century in rejecting the revealed religion of Christ; and during the latter part of his life, with a habit of sneering and cynicism, appears to have given up any belief in God, the soul, or immortality.

He was, however, reputed to have been a person of great integrity and good principles; living an upright life, respected by his friends, and a good friend as regards things temporal to his poorer neighbors.

The daughter in question, going with others to an outdoor party in one of the most beautiful parts of Buckinghamshire, not far from Wendover, rambling far from headquarters, was with several others overtaken by a storm, caught a severe cold, went home, took to her bed, and in less than ten days was buried in the village churchyard.

The young girl in question was very fair both in form and features; and friends who came to see her in her coffin said that she had never in all her life looked more beautiful. She was interred in the family vault amid the tears of her relations, and to the intense grief of her sorrowing parent.

Her father was inconsolable at his loss, the more so as he knew nothing of the consolations of religion, having long ago rejected them, and fretted much at what he looked upon as the stern decrees of Fate.

The night after the funeral he is said to have had a most vivid dream. He dreamt that his daughter was confined in a cold and narrow underground cell, and that two resolute jailers were slowly filling her mouth with small pieces of cotton wool, in order to forcibly suffocate her; but that in the greatest trouble and agony she continued to resist, and would not be suffocated.

The dream disturbed him considerably; but, on waking and thinking over it, he acknowledged that his recent loss had no doubt served to disorganize his stomach, to confuse his brain, and to give rise to such fantastic fancies of the night.

However, a similar dream was had on the following night, and a third to his great astonishment on the night succeeding. His mental anguish and stress became so great that, at sunrise on the third day he rose from his bed, and went off to the clergyman of the parish to narrate what had happened, and to ask his counsel.

The clergyman, who had not then risen, surprised at being roused so early, came downstairs, listened to the curious and affecting narrative, and at once advised the immediate opening of the vault. This was done at once, and the coffin examined.

Under further advice- that of a doctor from the country town, who was going his rounds to visit his patients- the coffin was opened, when, to the horror of all who witnessed what was then and there discovered, it seemed perfectly clear that the young girl had been buried alive.

It was obvious that she had been put into the coffin in a state of suspended animation or trance, and that since the burial (for the body was turned and twisted, the hands compressed, the nails being dug into their palms, and the face fearfully contorted), the poor creature had died of suffocation.

An inquiry which was held resulted in nothing that could either give consolation to the living or benefit to the dead. The bare and melancholy facts as here recorded were both undoubted and unquestioned. The father of the girl soon afterwards died of grief, wasted away from sorrowing; and, as some said, died of a broken heart.

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